The World’s Lost Cities Everyone Should Visit
Delve into the magic and mystery of the world’s lost cities, where ancient memories float among the crumbling ruins of civilisations. Adventures into the past blend awe-inspiring scenery, fascinating cultures and historical wonders, to create holidays worthy of top billing on your travel bucket list.
To get you started, here’s a look at the world’s lost cities everyone should visit.
The ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Most of its residents fled as the volcano spewed ash, rocks and dust, but the ones who remained were buried, leaving hollow spaces where their bodies lay. Hundreds of years later, archaeologists filled them with plaster to create moulds of their last moments.
You can walk the site, as well as trek around the volcano, which is still active. In Italy, travel to Pompeii from Naples or Sorrento via the Circumvesuviana train and take a shuttle to Vesuvius from the Pompeii stop.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The awe-inspiring landscape that surrounds Machu Picchu, between the Andes and the Amazon Basin, provides a backdrop worthy of the magnificent ruins. Machu Picchu was built in the fifteenth century, only to be abandoned by the Inca Empire, when the Spaniards conquered in the 16th century. It’s a place of spiritual harmony, incredibly artistic architecture and unresolved mysteries.
Travel to Machu Picchu via train from Cusco, for incredible views as you wind your way through the valleys, or hike the famous Inca Trail, over 4 days for the fit and physical or 2 days for an easier trek.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
An ancient city that was once the centre of the Maya empire, Chichen Itza’s pyramids, temples, columns and stone structures are evidence of a sophisticated and spiritual civilisation. The Temple of Kukulkan has 365 steps, one for each day of the calendar year, as devised by the Mayans. The city was left to the jungle in the 1400s, but there’s no known record as to why.
Visit the World Heritage site by flying to Merida or Cancun and taking a bus to the town of Piste. The ruins are open daily and you can see the famous shadow serpent of El Castillo, which falls on the pyramid, at the spring and autumn equinoxes.
Undeniably dramatic and hauntingly beautiful, Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans and a major trade centre for incense, silks and spices. The abandoned temples and towers cut into mighty cliffs of red and orange sandstone, making it one of the world’s most fascinating archaeological sites.
As with many ancient sites, the best time to see Petra is in the early morning or late afternoon, so plan to stay in a hotel nearby. You can take tours, hire a taxi or drive from Amman to Wadi Musa, which is the village surrounding the ruins.
Termessos is northwest of Antalya and the ancient city is one of Turkey’s major tourist attractions. The ruins of the Pisidian city tumble down the side of a mountain and include well-preserved walls, a gymnasium complex, the magnificent theatre and temples. You can take tours and excursions to the site, from Antalya.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The temple complex of Angkor Wat is believed to be the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the first half of the 12th century, the complex is, not surprisingly, one of the top travel bucket list destinations in the world. It was constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer empire, dedicated to the god, Vishnu.
To visit the complex, you can stay in the vibrant town of Siem Reap, in accommodation ranging from budget to luxury. The changing light creates magical moments for photos, so visiting at different times of the day is recommended.