25 Amazing Ancient Cities You Probably Never Heard Of
Everyone knows about the main lost cities in the world; their ancient ruins spring to mind immediately when you hear names like “Pompeii,” “Machu Picchu,” and “Angkor Wat.”. You’ve probably seen dozens of pictures of them. But there are many “lost cities” all over the world. These stony relics of times past can date back thousands of years, and are stunning in not only their good condition but in the way that they resemble modern cities so closely.
Here are 25 of the ancient cities you’ve probably never heard of.
You probably know about Troy from the Iliad, but the doomed city was actually a very real place. It is located in the northwest corner of what is now Turkey. The famous Trojan War is said to have taken place in Troy in the mid- to late-13th century BCE.
Memphis was the first capital of Egypt and remained an important city for thousands of years. Legend says that King Menes built the city by rerouting the Nile, and its founding is dated by Herodotus as 3100 BCE.
Carthage, located in what is now Tunisia, was founded by Phoenicians in the first millenium BCE. It quickly rose to power thanks to its coastal location, but soon, it found itself fending off the Romans.
Mohenjo-daro, meaning “mound of the dead,” is a modern name; its real name might have been “Kukkutarma.”. You might remember this city in the Indus Valley in Pakistan from history class as one of the world’s earliest urban centers.
5. Skara Brae
Hatra, in Iraq, was the capital of the first Arab Kingdom. Its thick, high walls helped it fend off even the Romans. It flourished as a center of trade and religion under the Parthians, but was eventually destroyed by the Iranian Sassanid invasion.
10. Chan Chan
11. Great Zimbabwe
The country of Zimbabwe is so named for complexes of stone ruins found throughout it, which are also called “zimbabwes.” The largest of these is the Great Zimbabwe, which started being built in the 1200s by the native Bantu people.
Hattusa became the capital of the Hittite Empire in what is now Turkey in the 17th century BCE. About six hundred years later, it collapsed, along with many other Bronze Age settlements in the Eastern Mediterranean regions.
15. Mesa Verde
17. Leptis Magna
This used to be one of the largest cities in the world, with 500,000 people calling it home. During the height of the Vijayanagar Empire this city flourished, but was often in conflict with the neighboring Muslim kingdoms.
Tikal is the Mayan city that gets all the credit, but it maintained an intense rivalry with the city of Calakmul. The struggle for power between the two cities is usually understood as a struggle between the two superpowers of the Mayan culture.
23. Ciudad Perdida
Its current name translates to “Lost City,” but this mysterious ruin in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada is also known as Teyuna and Buritaca. Founded in 800 CE, it predates the Inca city of Machu Picchu by about 650 years.
Ani rose to prominence in the 5th century CE, and by the 900s, was the capital of Armenia. Its nickname was the “City of 1,001 Churches,” and what remains today shows an incredible variety of medieval architecture.