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These Are Legendary Historical Places...That Never Existed

 All of us at times wish to leave the troubles of our lives and escape to a magical land where we can be free. Throughout history, man has continued to be fascinated with mythical lands. Our ancient past is filled with stories of people being completely enthralled and captivated by mysterious places, cities, and islands where a utopian world supposedly existed. Many of these places weren't real but they continued to enchant people for centuries. This is because the legends related to these mythical lands were so strong that people even spent their entire lives in the quest for finding them.
The enduring mysteries of lost cities buried by time have inspired several authors, poets, and filmmakers. And even today, we can’t help but be hooked into any story that talks about a legendary or mythical land. 
Today, we will learn about five such ancient mythical places that have rich and intriguing stories.

1. Atlantis 

Mythical Places, Atlantis 
We’ve all heard of the myth of Atlantis at some point in our lives. And the legendary mythical island nation continues to enchant people and historians more than 2,000 years after Plato first mentioned it in his dialogues “Timaeus” and “Critias”. "It's a story that captures the imagination," says James Romm, a professor of classics at Bard College in Annandale, New York. "It's a great myth. It has a lot of elements that people love to fantasize about."
Plato wrote about the story of Atlantis around 360 B.C. He stated that the founders of Atlantis were half god and half-human. According to him, the Atlantis islands contained gold, silver, and many other special metals, along with rare, exotic wildlife. The powerful and highly advanced kingdom supposedly sank into the ocean around 9,600 B.C. by way of divine punishment.
Exactly where Atlantis existed is still a subject of great debate. It’s most popular location is believed to be the Greek island of Santorini, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 1,600 B.C.  According to Plato, Atlantis existed more than 9,000 years before his own time and he said that its story had been passed down by various poets and priests. However, barring Plato's writings about Atlantis, there are no known records of the island’s existence. 

2. The Kingdom of Prester John

Prester John

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 
Prester John was a legendary Christian ruler of the East. Also called Presbyter John or John the Elder, the myth of this famed ruler and his vast kingdom is believed to have originated in the 1130s after the Byzantine and Holy Roman emperors received a letter from a monarch claiming to be “Prester John.” This mysterious king supposedly ruled over “the three Indies” and all its 72 kingdoms. The king described his massive kingdom to be rich in gold, filled with milk and honey and teeming with outlandish races of giants and horned men.
"For gold, silver, precious stones, animals of every kind and the number of our people, we believe there is not our equal under heaven,” read the letter.
While there was no trace of Prester John’s kingdom, Europeans believed in the myth of this utopian land for hundreds of years. Later on, the kingdom of Prester John even fascinated noted travelers and explorers. In the 1400s, several Portuguese explorers went to Africa in search of this mythical kingdom but failed to find it. Interestingly, despite no evidence of its existence, Prester John's legendary kingdom was used as a little area on maps as late as the 1570s.

3. Hy-Brasil

Mythical Places, Hy-BrasilImage Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Hy-Brasil (also called Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, and Brazir) was a mysterious island that appeared on maps from 1325 to the 1800s and is said to have existed off the West coast of the Emerald Isle. This mythical landmass was located roughly 321 km (200 miles) off the west coast of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean in most maps but no real traces of the island have been found to date.

The name of the island is derived from the Irish word Breasal, meaning High King of the World.  According to Irish legends, Hy-Brasil was supposedly covered in mist except for one day every seven years. Countless stories and myths about the mysterious island have been spread throughout Europe for centuries. Most of the tales talked about how Hy-Brasil was the promised land of saints and monks who possess ancient knowledge and a paradise that was inhabited by a highly advanced civilization. 

Despite having no proof of its existence, Hy-Brasil caught the imagination of numerous Britain-based explorers in the 15th century. Several famous expeditions were also launched during this time to hunt the place but were met without any success. Interestingly, a few explorers in the following centuries had claimed that they had indeed spotted the island and even spent some days in it. The last documented sighting of Hy-Brasil was recorded in 1872 by Robert O’Flaherty and T.J. Westropp. Westropp, in fact, claimed that the island appeared out of nowhere in front of him and his family and disappeared like magic in front of their eyes.

Today, there is no existence of the island called Hy-Brasil on any map and there are no historical documents to show what happened to it.

4. Thule

Mythical Places, Thule

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

The legendary island of Thule (pronounced: thoo-lee) had fascinated ancient explorers and romantic poets alike. Believed to be situated in the northern regions, near Britain and Scandinavia, or to the North West, Thule’s legend goes back to the 4th century B.C. It was ancient Greek explorer, Pytheas, who first wrote about the mystical island during his travels between 330-20 B.C. Pytheas described the people of this island as barbaric; primarily farmers living on grain, roots, and honey. He further described the land as a place where the sun rarely set and the land, sea, and air merged to form an odd jelly-like mass. It was also believed that the island housed a number of rare creatures.

The claims of this unusual island raised several doubts initially. However, Thule soon captured the European imagination. In the later years, many explorers, writers, and researchers described the island’s location as being North West of Ireland and Britain, or possibly Iceland or Scandinavia. 

Thule has drawn intrigue and curiosity for centuries and the legend of supposed lost land along with its beauty and strangeness will remain one of history’s captivating mysteries.

Related Article: Full Documentary: Exploring The Lost City of Petra

5. El Dorado

Mythical Places,

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

El Dorado, a lost city of gold, had enthralled European explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries. This mythical city of gold, supposedly located in the unexplored regions of South America, had become the subject of obsession among countless people in that time and wasted many lives. 

The myth of El Dorado began when Spanish explorers reached South America in the early 16th century and heard stories of a tribe of natives who lived high in the Andes mountains. Many accounts say that the native king of this tribe would cover himself with gold dust, and would throw the jewels and gold into a sacred lake as part of a coronation ceremony. Once the stories of this king began to spread, rumors of a golden city of unimaginable wealth and splendor too began taking shape. And thus commenced the endless and fruitless search for this famed golden city and the innumerable riches it could offer. 

In 1617, the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh traveled up the Orinoco River in search of El Dorado but had to come back disappointed. Till the 1800s, the quest for finding the city drove many people insane and even led to great violence. Then, in the same period, scientists Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland took a research expedition to Latin America and soon labeled the city a myth.

However, the legend of El Dorado still endures because deep down all of us want it to be true. In his 1849 poem "El Dorado," writer Edgar Allan Poe shared his thoughts on how to find this mystical city: "Over the Mountains of the Moon, down the Valley of the Shadow, ride, boldly ride … if you seek for El Dorado."

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