15 Most Legendary Ancient Cities in the World

There are cities that have changed the history of the world and have been the subject of many movies and novels. Some never came to light again, while the remains of others have survived to the present day.

Lost cities, the most beautiful cities of their time, from all over the world, of which only a small part remains today. Sometimes these cities left their mark on world history, and sometimes they disappeared. We wanted to explore these cities, delve into the depths of history and show you their mysterious stories and structures.

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1. Persepolis

It remained famous until it was burned down by Alexander the Great in 330 BC. Persepolis historical city of Iran, called Taht-ı Cemsid (Throne of Cemsid) in Persian, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Persepolis was the most perfect, most beautiful city of its time.

So much so that the Greeks at that time were described as not being able to see such beauty even in their dreams. Persepolis was forgotten for centuries after it was burned and destroyed by Alexander the Great.

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2. Machu Picchu

It is among the most mysterious lost cities ever discovered and studied. It remained hidden in the Urubamba valley until it was discovered by a Hawaiian historian named Hiram in 1911. The city was built by the Incas in the 1400s but was destined to be abandoned due to smallpox from outside.

In the construction of the city, according to some, this is a temple, according to others, it is a prison. The mystery of the city is still preserved, but after its discovery, extensive study and research have been carried out.

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3. Sudden(Ani) Ruins

The first discovery of Ani, which was abandoned about 500 years ago and also called the city of 1001 churches or the city with 40 gates, dates back to the 1880s. The City of Ani was active from the second half of 1000 AD until the beginning of the 18th century when it was destroyed as a result of an earthquake (although the period passed to different administrations). There are very important structures related to the Armenian cultural heritage in Ani.

Archaeologists say that there are 23 structures seen in Ani, but most of Ani is 50-60 cm underground. The Historical City of Ani was inscribed on the World Heritage List at the 40th Meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

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4. Sukhothai

It gained its independence in the 13th century. The Sukhothai kingdom, which enjoyed a long period of prosperity, was invaded in 1378 by the rival Siamese city-state, the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which emerged in later periods.

The remains of the glorious days of the ancient city are under protection under the name of Sukhothai Historical Park. This park, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, is one of the most important tourist areas of Thailand.

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5. Palenque

It is an ancient Mayan city near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Although the city’s establishment area is not very large, the structure and sculptures it contains are magnificent. The part of the city discovered until 2005 is 2.5 km², this discovered part is not even 10% of the part of the city that has not been brought to light.

The unexplored part of the city is covered with forest, and because of this dense forest, more than a thousand structures of the city cannot be reached. The city of Palenque was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1987.

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6. Atlantis

Another lost city that is the subject of legends is Atlantis. The magnificent legendary island of Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean is mentioned in the works of many writers and thinkers of the Ancient Age, including Plato. According to the legend; The ruler of Atlantis is Neptune, the sea god called Poseidon in Greek mythology. Neptune lives here with his wife Cleito. They have a total of ten sons, including five twins. One of these ten boys, named Atlas, becomes the king of the island in the middle. The other nine become rulers of the remaining nine circular islands. The kings and people of Atlantis are descended from these ten children.

Atlantis is a very rich and glamorous country. But like all good things, this golden age of Atlantis has come to an end. The people suffered great corruption at the end of this glorious life. At the end of this corruption, they lost their discipline and could not avoid being defeated by the Athenians. But the disaster did not end there. The gods had decided to punish the Atlanteans with greater calamity. And one day, whatever happened, in one night the ocean swallowed up these nine circular islands.

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7. Angkor

Angkor Wat is 6 km from Siem Reap, Cambodia today. King II in 1115-1145 in the ancient city of Angkor in the north. It is a giant temple city built by Suryavarman. It is one of the most important examples of Khmer architecture.

Located in Cambodia, this city is left over from the Chimer Empire, which ruled between the 9th and 15th centuries. Its most sought-after structure is the temple of Angkor Wat, known as the largest independent religious structure in the world. Angkor Wat, which includes more than fifty temples, was built in about 30 years during the Khmer Kingdom, which ruled for 630 years.

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8. Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus, which dates back to the second century BC and is accepted as one of the seven wonders of the world with the Temple of Artemis inside, is an ancient city that attracts great attention from cultural tourists despite thousands of years and its destroyed structure. The ancient city of Ephesus, which is thought to have been built for Artemis, the Goddess of Fertility, by the Lydian King Kroisos, and which took 120 years to build, became the capital of the Hellenistic Age, but became one of the most important political and commercial centers of the period, due to its proximity to the ports and its location.

Although many buildings of Ephesus, which contains 58 ancient structures, have not survived to the present day, its ruins are spread over an area of 8 km2 due to its displacement many times. The ancient city, which is divided into 4 main regions as Ayasuluk Hill, Artemision, Ephesus, and Selcuk, hosts an average of 1.5 million tourists annually.

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9. Chan Chan

Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America, is an archaeological site located 5 kilometers west of Trujillo in Peru, in what is now La Libertad Region. Chan Chan is located at the mouth of the Moche Valley and was the capital of the Chimor Empire from 900 until 1470 when it was defeated and joined by the Inca Empire.

Chan Chan is located in an arid part of the northern Peruvian coastal desert. Due to the lack of rain in this region, Chan Chan’s main source of water has been rivers carrying runoff from the Andes. This water flow enabled soil and water to be controlled through irrigation systems. The city of Chan Chan is spread over an area of ​​20 km² and has a dense urban center of 6 km² with very dense Ciudadela in these areas.

Ciudadela’s were large architectural structures for the royal family that housed structures such as royal residences, warehouses, and cemeteries. The splendor of these Ciudadela’s indicated their relationship with the royal class. For the lower classes of Chan Chan’s hierarchical society, the residences were known as small, irregular agglutination rooms. On 28 November 2016, the Chan Chan Archaeological Site has declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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10. Rome

Rome, the capital of Italy, is undoubtedly one of the cities where the world’s greatest civilizations were established. While there are countless historical artifacts in Rome, which are still preserved on the day it was first established, it can make tourists feel like a historical documentary.

With its churches, streets, fountains, and buildings smelling history, Rome stands out as a dazzling city in every respect. The Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain, and the Colosseum are among the must-see places for those who want to explore this city.

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11. Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe is a ruined city in the southeastern hills of Zimbabwe. The site is located close to the country’s border with Mozambique in the southeast of the African continent. Great Zimbabwe was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age. It was built by the Bantu people in the 11th century, stone ruins have survived to this day. It is thought that 18 thousand people lived in the period when it was most crowded. People have left the city due to changes in politics and commerce and the dramatic change of climate.

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12. Hatra

Hatra is an ancient city in the province of Nineveh, Iraq. It is located 290 km northwest of Baghdad and 110 km southwest of Mosul. It is one of the powerful cities of the Parthian Empire period. It was wanted to be occupied by the Romans several times, but its thick walls and towers did not allow this. It was taken by the Sassanids in 241 and completely destroyed.

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13. Leptis Magna

Leptis Magna was an important city in Roman Libya. Originally a Carthaginian foundation, the city was greatly expanded by a native of the city, Emperor Septimius Severus. Legio III Augusta was stationed here to defend the city from Berber attacks.

Leptis Magna, one of the prominent cities of the Roman Empire, is located within the borders of Libya. It was a wealthy city located on the Mediterranean and Sahara trade routes. With the weakening of Emperor Septimius Severus, it started to lose its importance and was destroyed in 642.

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14. Babylon Ancient City

During the time of its most famous king, Hammurabi, the star of this city begins to shine. Hammurabi builds the city of Babylon. In the city of Babylon, great breakthroughs and stages are seen in the cultural, technical, and legal fields. Although there is not much left of the city today, there is no one who has not heard of the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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15. Calakmul

Calakmul is a Mayan archaeological site located deep in the forests of the great Petén Basin in the Mexican State of Campeche. It is located 35 kilometers from the border with Guatemala. Calakmul is one of the largest hidden cities in the Mayan plains. It is a spacious and powerful city that was used to break the power of Tikal. It was discovered deep in the forest. It lost most of its population in the war with Tikal in 695, which led to the downfall of the Mayans.

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