History has a strong imprint on all cultures and societies of the world. In some cases, this is much more evident, with historical artefacts and sites a physical marker of a bygone age. Hidden, or ‘lost’, cities are prime examples of such historical spots.
Some amazing examples found scattered across the globe just waiting to be discovered by the curious traveller.
Machu Picchu, Peru
It’s often called the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ and the 15th-century Machu Picchu is one of the most famous of ancient settlements. Found at almost 8000 feet above sea level, the city is perched on a mountainside overlooking the Urubamba Valley. It was forgotten and overgrown until it was rediscovered in the early 20th century. Thought to be the birthplace of Incan civilisation and a past royal retreat, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and remains one of the most fascinating of historic sites.
Carved into the towering rocks of Jordan’s Mount Hor and largely obscured by the mountains of the Arabah Valley, for centuries Petra remained undiscovered by the Western world. Thought to have been built as early as 312 BC, it was the Nabataean capital city, serving as both a fortress and an important stop on ancient commercial routes through the Middle East. Reintroduced to the world in 1812, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, Angkor, which translates as ‘Holy City’, was the centre of the historic Khmer Empire, which dominated the region from the ninth to the fifteenth century. Today, the ruins are found tucked away in rural Cambodia amidst rice fields and forests. Over a thousand temples mark the site, the biggest of which is Angkor Wat. It is said to be the largest religious monument in the world. It has also been named as the world’s largest pre-industrial city, covering over 100 square kilometres.
Ciudad Perdida, Colombia
The ‘Lost City’ of Ciudad Perdida is an ancient site in Sierra Nevada in Colombia. It is believed to have been built in 800 AD, although it was not discovered by the modern world until 1972. Set amidst dense jungle, the ruins are accessible only via 1,200 stone steps that lead to the carved terraces, roads and plazas that make up Ciudad Perdida. While it’s a destination of unequalled beauty, both the terrain and political situation of the area makes purchasing holiday insurance an advisable option for anyone looking to undertake a trip to this amazing hidden city.
From the mountains of South America to Asia's paddies, hidden cities can be found across the globe. While all are fascinating historical sites, each one is unique and waiting to be discovered and explored by the inquisitive traveller.
Article by Chris Rowlands, keen travel writer for MoneySupermarket.com