There are no words to describe the feeling you get as you set foot in an ancient ‘lost city’ for the first time. Knowing that amongst the ruins are thousands of years of history, of stories and of people’s lives is unimaginable
It’s cities like these, rediscovered in modern times, which help us to understand the lives of ancient civilisations. The recent discovery of two more lost cities in the Honduran jungle has inspired us to take a look at some of the once lost cities in Europe that we now have the privilege of visiting on Explore adventures.
Albania – Butrint
Butrint is one of the greatest archaeological sites in the Balkans. This early Neolithic settlement was later occupied by the Illyrians, Greeks and the Romans before being plundered by the Normans. It then lay abandoned until thankfully it was protected as a National Park and UNESCO site. All periods of its history are represented in the ruins including its Roman theatre, villa and thermal baths, as well as a fine baptistery with fabulous mosaic floors.
Make it happen: Europe’s Last Frontier
Greece - Mycenae
The mighty ruins of ancient Mycenae are perched on a hilltop overlooking the modern city. Mycenae is connected to the legend of King Agamemnon who commanded the 10-year long military action against Troy. The site was unearthed in the 1870's and is prized for its Lion Gate and royal tombs. Equally impressive are the 'beehive tombs' which include the Treasury of Atreus.
Make it happen: Peloponnese Explorer
Italy - Pompeii and Herculaneum
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were both buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Pompeii is a remarkably well-preserved example of a provincial Roman city. The town once housed 15,000 people and was a favourite residence of wealthy Roman patricians. The eruption encased the town and its citizens in layers of ash and pumice, which affords us an emotive snapshot of this catastrophic event. Nearby are the ruins of Herculaneum, which was hermetically sealed under a thick layer of volcanic mud, which preserved a staggering amount of wooden furniture and other organic materials, such as fruit.
Make it happen: Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast
Turkey - Ani
The ruined Armenian town of Ani is set within a dramatic ravine on the Armenian/Turkish border. This once wealthy city is now an abandoned ghost town since its destruction by the Mongol hordes in 1239. Parts of the citadel and the convent are still standing, but its many ruined churches are its main attraction. These have thankfully retained some of their remarkable decoration and wall paintings.
Make it happen: Eastern Turkey, Eastern Turkey Explorer
Turkey - Ephesus
Selcuk's historic neighbour is the great Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. Visited by Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, this famous seaport reached its zenith in the 2nd century AD. Ephesus became one of the main cultural and economic centres of the ancient world until it went into decline after the 7th century. Today, its impressive ruins include a theatre, gymnasium, baths and the famed Library of Celsus.
Make it happen: Best of Turkey Highlights, Asia Minor Explorer, Historical Treasures of Turkey or Highlights of Turkey
Turkey - Kekova
The so-called Sunken City of Kekova is the result of various earthquakes, which submerged ancient streets and buildings that are now visible in the crystal clear waters of the Turquoise Coast. There are even steps leading down into the depths of the bay. The Kekova region also encompasses the whitewashed village of Simena, whose harbour is dotted with ancient tombs, Roman baths and houses that cling to a hillside beneath a medieval castle.
Make it happen: The Lycian Way or Blue Cruise