10 Lost Cities, That Have Been Found

lost cities

When you read history books you sometimes come across names of places that are no longer there. Some of these places are being rediscovered hundreds of centuries later. This top 10 is about these lost cities, which are now back on the map. They are ruins of old buildings. Some unknown, others world famous. So if you are a big fan of the old days, get on a plane and discover one of the places below.

10. Ciudad Perdida (Colombia)


A group of Colombian treasure hunters discovered the ancient city of Ciudad Perdida in 1972. They found a pair of stone steps that rose above the mountainside. They followed them and ended up in an old abandoned city. They found gold figures and ceramic urns. These were sold by them on local black markets. 

This caught the attention of archaeologists. Ciudad Perdida was built in the year 800. According to the locals, the city used to be the heart of a network of villages, inhabited by their ancestors. If you want to visit Ciudad Perdida, you have to be in good shape. In a mountainous jungle, you climb a stone staircase of 1236 steps and then arrive at a mountainside lined with paved roads and a number of small circular plazas.

9. Shi Cheng (China)

Unlike the other cities on this list, Shi Cheng was deliberately flooded with water in 1959, which means it is now under water. The city was built about 1,300 years ago. It was the political and economic center of an eastern province of China. The government needed a hydroelectric power station in 1959 and it had to be built where Shi Cheng was located. 

It was a forgotten city until 2009 when archaeologists discovered that the city in Lake Qiandao was completely intact except for the wooden beams and stairs. The city is now called the ‘Lion City’, because of its location between the Five Lions Mountains. It has been converted into an Adventure Park for tourists.

8. Derinkuyu (Turkey)

© Nevit Dilmen

In 1963, a Turkish man discovered an underground chamber while demolishing a wall. This led through a corridor to the ancient underground city of Derinkuyu. This city was probably created in Byzantine times in the years 780 to 1180. Who exactly built it and why is a great mystery. Derinkuyu has a depth of 60 meters and probably as many as 20,000 people have lived in it. It consists of a network of churches, schools, storerooms, graves, wells, common areas and kitchens. You could get there through 600 entrances with hard stone doors to stop intruders. Since 1969, about half of the city of Derinkuyu has been open to the public. It is a popular tourist attraction.

7. Bagerhat (Bangladesh)


The mosque town of Bagerhat in Bangladesh was discovered when a patch of vegetation was removed in 1895. At the beginning of the 15th century, Bagerhat was designed by the Turkish general Ulugh Khan Jahan. He designed a city with roads, bridges, mosques, palaces, tombs, a mausoleum, water tanks and reservoirs. 

In 1459 the founder of the city died. The place was gradually hidden by the jungle. In 1903 the restoration work of Bagerhat started. In 1985 the place was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city has also been named one of the fifteen lost cities in the world. Bakerhat boasts more than 50 Islamic monuments. The most famous architectural structure is the Sixty Pillars Mosque, constructed with 60 pillars and 77 domes.

6. Timgad (Algeria)

In 1881, the Algerian city of Timgad was excavated by archaeologists. It was then hidden a meter deep underground for more than a century. The Romanesque city was built by Emperor Trajan in AD 100 as a military colony. It then became a center for Christian activities and a Donatist center. Since the 5th century, Timgrad suffered from religious conflicts, civil wars and barbarian invasions. 

It was eventually destroyed by local Arab troops. Now the rediscovered Timgrad is known as an example of Roman urban construction. The city is characterized by an orthogonal design with square buildings and two perpendicular routes. There are temples, bathhouses, marketplaces, fountains, a theatre, library and arched gates. Timgrad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5. Heracleion (Egypt)


In the year 2000, French underwater archaeologist Dr. Franck Goddio in the Mediterranean Sea in search of French warships that had sunk there in the 18th century. He didn’t find them, but instead of the ships he found something much bigger: an entire city. It was the Egyptian city of Heracleion originating from 800 BC, which was submerged by the sea about 1200 years ago. Heracleion is located in Aboukir Bay. 

Remains of ships, statues of gods, gold coins and weights made of stone and bronze have been found, among others. Much of this has been brought to the surface for further investigation and exhibition. But there are also smaller remains to admire under water. The name Heracleion is mentioned a lot in legends. For a long time people thought that the city did not really exist, but now it has been proven otherwise.

4. Helike (Greece)

Helike was discovered in 2001 near the Greek village of Rizomylos. This city was already buried by a tsunami in 373 BC. Hundreds of centuries before that, Helike was founded in the Mycenaean period of Ion. It was the capital of the Twelve Cities of ancient Archaea. Long before 2001, archaeologists searched for Helike. But nothing was found by them except for two coins. Because Helike was buried in an old lagoon, the city was very difficult to find. But in 2012, ceramic roof tiles, pottery and cobblestones were excavated. This was great proof that the excavation was really the ancient city of Helike.

3. Holtun (Guatemala)

Deep in the jungles of Guatemala, the entrance to the ancient Mayan city of Holtun was discovered in 1994 by the locals. Traditionally, the name of Holtun is: La Máquina. The city dates from about 1000 to 300 BC (the Middle Preclassical period). It is not known when and how the city slowly sank into oblivion. Immediately after the discovery of the Guatemalans, the authorities decided that the area should be officially declared a protected area. In the years that followed, archaeologists discovered more and more about ancient La Máquina. 

They discovered a seven-story pyramid, the rough outline of nearly a hundred buildings, an astronomical observatory, and a courthouse. But the most spectacular find is the ‘Head of Stone’, a building made of giant masks measuring 1 by 0.5 kilometers in size. From 600 to 900 BC this was a center inhabited by about 2000 people. Although this is a gigantic find for archaeologists, it is disappointing when you see it in real life. The structures are still largely buried under soil and plants. The ‘Head of Stone’ is nothing more than a mountain in the middle of the jungle.

2. Pompeii (Italy)

In 1748, the ancient Italian city of Pompeii was discovered by a Spanish surveying engineer. The city was buried under four to six meters high ash and rock when the volcano Vesuvius erupted in 79 BC. Evidence of this comes from an old letter written by Piny the Younger. 

He watched the eruption from a distance and writes about his uncle’s death and how he tried to save civilians at the time. Pompeii was protected by the volcanic ash. This kept air and moisture from getting to the city, leaving Pompeii miraculously well preserved. But the job is far from done. After two and a half centuries of hard work, two thirds of Pompeii has been lifted from the ashes. This part occupies an area of ​​12.4 km². Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Machu Picchu (Peru)

Everyone knows Machu Picchu in Peru, the Peruvian ancient city, which is located on a ridge 2430 meters above sea level. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous tourist spots in the world. However, the city was only discovered in 1911 by Professor Hiram Bingham. The stone city of Machu Picchu dates back to the 15th century. It was built at the time as an estate for Inca emperor Pachacuti. 

Many nobles and kings had their temporary country residence there. One hundred years after its construction, the city was conquered by Spaniards. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle overgrown Machu Picchu. The city is now extremely famous, as the buildings, walls, terraces and slopes are of very good architectural and technical quality. The terraces were provided with fertile soil, very suitable for agriculture. Machu Picchu also had an extensive water distribution system. You can visit this very spectacular place from different places on foot (via the Inca Jungle Trail) or by (Peru’s most expensive bus).

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