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Top 13 Most Mysterious Lost Cities In The World. Photo KnowInsiders
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Perhaps in distant future, one of our descendants will gaze upon the ruins of Taj Mahal or Statue Of Liberty and wonder about the settlements around. It won’t be a surprise if, then, a lot of present day cities would already be submerged. After all, the history mentions many ancient lost cities of the world that were drowned, abandoned, or merely lost in the wilderness.

Top 13 Most Mysterious Lost Cities In The World

1. Machu Picchu, Peru

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Photo Getty

One of the most famous lost cities in the world, Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by Hawaiian historian Hiram after it lay hidden for centuries above the Urubamba Valley. The “Lost City of the Incas” is invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs. Although known locally in Peru, it was largely unknown to the outside world before being rediscovered in 1911.

Surrounded by towering mountain peaks above the Urubamba Valley and cloaked in clouds, Machu Picchu is one of the most mysterious "lost cities" and was discovered by accident in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. Bingham was looking for another lost city called Vilcabamba but instead stumbled upon what is easily one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient Inca Empire. Only inhabited between the 15th and 16th centuries, archaeologists believe it was abandoned because of the Spanish Conquest. Now a popular tourist spot, it is definitely worth the challenging hike through the Peruvian mountains.

2. Ctesiphon, Iraq - the ancient Persian capital city

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Photo unusual traveler

Ctesiphon was the capital of the ancient Persian Empire and is located on the River Tigris not far from modern Baghdad. Its showstopper is the enormous vaulted hall, dominated by what is still the world’s largest brick-built arch (pictured). The throne room behind it was 30m high and 48m long: truly fit for a king.

3. Babylon, Iraq

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

Once home to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Babylon's remains lie south of Baghdad in modern-day Iraq. It was one of Mesopotamia's first cities and was constructed by an incredibly advanced civilization with a complex language, religion and legal system. The city became Mesopotamia's "holy city" during the time of the infamous Hammurabi's reign, and it was there that much of the well-known Hammurabi's Code was created. Babylon underwent multiple foreign-occupancies and eventually was abandoned and left to fall into ruin.

4. Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan

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Photo touropia

The Indus valley civilisation that built Mohenjo-Daro around 2600 BC was a rival of its better-known Greek and Egyptian equivalents. Though little is known about its people, this was once home to early masters of town planning and civil engineering. Today its complex of houses, shops, ramparts and streets are under threat from erosion.

It is sometimes referred to as “An Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis”. It has a planned layout based on a grid of streets, which were laid out in perfect patterns. At its height the city probably had around 35,000 residents. The buildings of the city were particularly advanced, with structures constructed of same-sized sun dried bricks of baked mud and burned wood. Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Valley civilization vanished without a trace from history around 1700 BC until discovered in the 1920s.

5. Angkor, Cambodia

Top 13 Most Mysterious Lost Cities In The World
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Once the capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor was a massive city in the jungles of Cambodia that was constructed by Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II. The entire city complex includes over one thousand temples, many of which have been restored and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive structures in the world and draws millions of tourists every year. In 2007, a team of researchers used satellite photographs to study the 1,000-square-kilometer city in its entirety and to determine that it was the largest pre-industrial city in the world.

6. Dwarka, Gujarat

The submerged city of Lord Krishna is one of the mythical lost cities. The present-day Dwarka is claimed to be the 7th city, with first 6 submerged off its coast in the Arabian Sea. Archaeologists, however, have only succeeded in recovering ruins that date back to the 15th century BC.

Location: Gujarat

Established in: 1500 BC (estimated)

Abandoned in: 1443 BC (estimated)

Discovered in: 1983 AD

7. Tikal, Guatemala

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Photo touropia

The ruins of Tikal in Guatemala were abandoned more than a thousand years ago, and were rediscovered by a gum sapper in 1853.

Tikal was the capital of a warring state which became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Maya.

But the new ruins were unusual — and different from the rest of Tikal — showing off the distinctive architecture found in Teotihuacan, more than 800 miles to the west.

The pyramid-shaped complex is thought to be a replica of a square at Teotihuacan known as the Citadel, National Geographic reports.

8. Ani, Turkey

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Photo Turkish Travel Blog

Ani is known as The City of 1,001 Churches and was once the capital of the tenth-century Bagratid Armenian kingdom. The city stood on various trade routes and included some of the most technically and artistically advanced religious buildings, palaces and fortifications in the world at the time. Some of these structures still stand among the ruins left by a Mongol invasion, a devastating earthquake and the eventual abandonment of the city. Recognized as an important cultural, religious and national heritage icon for Armenians, Ani is a beautiful symbol of their great history.

9. Pompeii, Italy

Top 13 Most Mysterious Lost Cities In The World

Pompeii is easily one of the most famous lost cities in the world because of the tragic story of Mount Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD that blanketed the entire city under ash and pumice. Because of the rapid burial of the city, it was kept mostly intact and looks as though everything was frozen in time, giving archaeologists one of the best examples of an ancient Roman city. Lost for 1,700 years, Pompeii was rediscovered in 1749 by local farmers and it has since become a tourist hotspot. A disaster that destroyed a community now offers visitors a window into Roman society. 10. The ancient port city of Carthage, Tunisia

11. Petra, Jordan

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Photo touropia

Made famous by Indiana Jones, Petra was once the capital of the Nabateans and was an important trading center that linked Asia and Arabia with the West. Its intricate, rose-colored buildings were carved directly into the rock and have awed visitors for generations as Jordan's most popular attraction. The Nabateans utilized Petra's location on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah and their skill at constructing water supply systems to establish the city as a major trading hub. Recently named among the New 7 Wonders of the World, Petra is truly spectacular.

12. The legendary city of Ephesus, Turkey

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Photo Audley Travel

Ephesus, located southwest of present-day Selçuk, Turkey, was a port on the River Cayster. It over time grew into one of the largest Mediterranean cities in the Classical era. The Temple of Artemis – a wonder of the Ancient World – once stood here, and its striking fragments still remain.

Legends relate that Ephesus was founded by Androclus, son of King Kodrus of Athens, who was advised by an oracle to settle at a place indicated by a fish and a wild boar. Androclus and his entourage arrived here to find natives roasting fish by the sea; embers from the fire set a bush ablaze, out of which charged a pig, and the city was on its way. The imported worship of Artemis melded easily with that of the indigenous Cybele, and the Ephesus of 1000 BC was built on the north slope of Mount Pion (Panayır Dağı), very close to the temple of the goddess.

13. Teotihuacan, Mexico

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Photo touropia

In the 2nd century BC a new civilization arose in the valley of Mexico. This civilization built the flourishing metropolis of Teotihuacán and it’s huge step pyramids. A decline in population in the 6th century AD has been correlated to lengthy droughts related to the climate changes. Seven centuries after the demise of the Teotihuacán empire the pyramids of the lost city were honored and utilized by the Aztecs and became a place of pilgrimage.

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