Legends Are Made of These – WIF Mythical Travel Edition

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Ancient Places of Legend

That May Never

Have Existed

History books tell us of ancient places with amazing architecture, and world wonders long past. Archeological discovery has learned much about the world before us. The idea of many of these locations has inspired imaginations for many years. However, the truth is that history gets distorted over time both through constant retellings and sometimes through historical records that were actually just fanciful stories written after the fact. Many of the most famous locations may not have existed at all. Many of those that did, were much different than most people usually imagine.

Editor’s Note: Anything relating to The Bible is probably true (despite these explanations)

10. The Legend of El Dorado Didn’t Start Out About a City


The City of El Dorado, also known as the City of Gold, was popularized in myth. Fairly recently, it was retold in a very shiny and colorful Disney movie. The myth claims that there was a city of gold, told of by the South American natives. Many explorers went searching for it in the hopes of finding amazing riches. However, the original legend was actually about a person, not a city. It morphed into a city that needed to be searched for, because many of the natives were happy to lead the explorers on a wild chase.

The original legend told of an ancient leader who was so rich, that every morning he would be doused in gold dust. Then every evening, he would bathe in sacred waters, washing the dust off again. This was an example of his absolutely ridiculous wealth. However, while the legend is based on this, it isn’t actually true either. Archeologists have discovered that the original story began because of the Musica people who would perform a similar ritual when anointing a new king. But they certainly weren’t wasting that kind of gold every day. It was for very special occasions.

 9. The City of Troy May Not Be At All Like People Think


The City of Troy has captured people’s imaginations ever since The Iliad and The Odyssey. More recently, there have been very visually stunning movies that have helped rekindle modern interest in the ancient city. Many people assume the city and the famous siege that took place may have been similar to how it was described in Homer’s work, or in the movies. But the issue of Troy is extremely complicated.

To begin with, much of Homer’s original work that would complete the two famous stories is missing, and may never be found. This makes it difficult to understand how much of his work was fact, and how much was fiction. Also, for some time historians weren’t sure the city of Troy existed at all. Now they have found an archeological site that they believe may contain the city, but that has only made the problem even more complicated. The site has several layers built on top of each other, which means that even if Troy was once there, figuring out which layer was the Troy described in Homer’s epic would be incredibly difficult.

Archeologists also have good reason to believe at this point that the siege described in Homer’s work actually took place over the course of many years. There also may have actually been more than one siege, of more than one Troy, over the course of history — all on the same spot. For this reason, trying to get a historically accurate picture of Troy may be next to impossible.

8. The Lost City of Atlantis Was Probably a Myth, Or Just a Regular Destroyed Island


 The Lost City of Atlantis has been popularized in myth for millennia. The idea of a lost city of prosperous people, who perhaps had interesting knowledge or technology is a fascinating idea. Some myths even go so far as to suggest that the people of Atlantis somehow continued to survive underneath the ocean. Wilder myths even suggest they are responsible for the Bermuda triangle — bringing down anything that gets too close to the truth of their hidden existence.

However, in all likelihood if Atlantis did exist, it was just an ordinary island struck by natural disaster. The first references to such a place were in an allegory by Plato about the suddenness that something could disappear, and about the hubris of not being prepared for danger. Many people are convinced this is the truth, and that there was no Atlantis. But, people often write about what they know. There is evidence that a prosperous island fairly near Plato was swallowed up almost instantly by a volcano, so he could have been making a reference to that event. Either way, there was nothing particularly special about the city Plato was referencing.

7. The Fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon Were Probably Not That Advanced


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the wonders of the ancient world. They also probably never existed at all. Many people have an idea from artwork of a huge city of mostly sandstone, with beautiful terraced gardens throughout, despite being in the middle of the desert. It certainly captures the imagination, but the first references to such a place were not written until hundreds of years after the city of Babylon was gone, greatly calling into doubt their existence.

The site of Babylon was only recently found, and wasn’t exactly where archeologists expected, either. It turns out it was closer to a neighboring city known as Nineveh. The people of Nineveh had taken over the Babylonian culture through war. But they liked to assimilate the enemies’ names into their own cities, making archeological identification difficult at first.

 Archeologists have not yet been able to prove the existence of any kind of hanging gardens or super advanced irrigation system. But even if they had, it wouldn’t have been that impressive to begin with. It turns out that the actual site of Babylon is not particularly arid, and would be quite useable for growing vegetation.

6. The Bermuda Triangle Is A Modern Myth, Not An Ancient Danger For Mariners

bermuda triangle

The Bermuda Triangle is a place that will cause many people to short circuit the logic part of their brain. They’ll start talking about the silliest paranoid conspiracy theories imaginable. Nearly everyone knows a mysterious story or two about the area. While most people would agree it is a natural phenomenon, the average person is convinced that something is going on there.

However, the truth is that there is no such thing as the Bermuda Triangle in the first place. What we mean by this is that there is no map in the world that has ever considered that particular region to be anything special to avoid or not. The entire idea of the triangle was made up by folklore.

Statistics show that there are no more accidents or disappearances of boats and planes in the triangle than anywhere else in the ocean. In other words, you could draw a triangle anywhere in the ocean and you would be just as likely to find a similar set of mysterious disappearances. This is because weather can cause ships and boats to go under, and the ocean is incredibly vast. Any part of the ocean can be dangerous. But there’s no evidence that particular area is any more dangerous than any other.

5. The Garden Of Eden Was Probably Philosophical, Not Physical


 The Garden of Eden is a subject that has caused some controversy for many years. Certain Christians are convinced that the Garden of Eden was once a physical location somewhere on the globe, and have done a lot of research to suggest various possible locations. Most of them are somewhere in the Middle East, fairly near the locations mentioned in the early days of the bible.

Interestingly though, the Jewish faith never believed in the Garden of Eden as a physical place to begin with, but as a state of being. When men were first created, in their view, they were in a state of perfect harmony. The sin of man broke that harmony and they were no longer in the Garden of Eden, but harshly viewing the world as it actually was — alone, in the desert to fend for themselves. Many Christian scholars have increasingly taken up a similar viewpoint over the years.

4. The Tower of Babel was Probably Just an Unfinished Building


The legend in the bible says that after the great flood, many people who spoke the same language came together and arrogantly forgot about God. They planned to build a tower to reach the heavens. Partway through their building, God struck them with confusion. Now, they had many languages, and they scattered across the globe. Some people dismiss the entire thing as just a story, and some people have looked for archeological evidence. The truth is a little more complicated.

 There is no evidence to support the biblical story itself. However, there is evidence of a great Ziggurat that could fit the description of the tower that existed in the Babylonian Empire while the Hebrews were their slaves. The Ziggurat was unfinished during that time. Despite being quite grand, multiple attempts had been made to finish it. Some historians believe that the Jewish writers of the time, looking for allegories to teach important lessons, were inspired by the unfinished Ziggurat nearby.

3. Ponce De Leon was Probably Never Actually Searching for a Fountain Of Youth


We already know there was no actual fountain of youth. The idea of a magical fountain that could restore the vitality to anyone who bathed in it is quite ridiculous. However, while no one today really believes the story, some assume that the people of a few hundred years ago would have been stupid enough to believe it.

The legends claim that Ponce De Leon wasted years of his time in Florida searching for this mythical fountain. A fountain, it turned out, that was a trick allegedly played on him by the natives. However, there is no evidence in his writings he was searching for any such thing. The only source for his alleged search was a fanciful account written by a suspect source, trying to gain political favor with his views. It is more than likely the entire legend was a complete fabrication from beginning to end.

2. Jericho Was Probably Just Built on a Fault Line


Many people have heard the story of the fabled Wall of Jericho. Jericho was an ancient city in biblical days, held under siege. God was to help bring down the city, but needed the help of His chosen. The army was to blow their trumpets and march around the city continuously, and He would bring the city walls down for them. After several days, the walls came down, and the people of God were victorious.

 Now, while the city of Jericho was real, many historians believe this story was far stranger than many people first realized. The city was actually in an area that would have been prone to earthquake activity. With armies using up nearby waters during a siege, it could increase the risk. Some historians would say that the army got lucky. Or, that someone knew the earthquake activity in the area and hoped to use it to their advantage. Believers would suggest that perhaps God chose that moment to activate an earthquake along that particular fault-line. No one will ever know.

1. Roswell is Really Just Home to an Old, Unused Air Force Base


We know the military presence at Roswell was hardly anything ancient. But with the belief many people have in ancient aliens, and their connection to Area 51 and the US government, it brings the entire thing full circle. Now, we aren’t saying that the town of Roswell, New Mexico doesn’t exist. But we are saying that there is a lot of confusion over what exactly Roswell is. Most people know that it’s the town where there was an alleged crash of a UFO. The Air Force would later claim it was just a weather balloon. Over time, most secret government projects have been associated with Area 51. Somehow the two places — Roswell and Area 51 — have often become conflated in the popular mindset.

While there was an Air Force Base located at Roswell, it has not been functioning for many years now. And it was never used for highly secret projects. In fact, Walker Air Force Base was a fairly generic and unimportant military post. When budget cuts came near the end of Vietnam, it was one of the first bases to close up shop. There’s a museum celebrating the legacy of the base, but what is left now serves commercial purposes. And no, there are no aliens there.

Legends Are Made of These

WIF Travel-001

– WIF Mythical Travel Edition

Magical Mythical Tour – WIF Guide to Legendary Places

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Mythical Places You

Can Visit Right Now

Atlantis! Valhalla! Shangri-La! Paradise locations shown over and over in movies, games and TV. Places of wealth, beauty and happiness that belong entirely in myth. If you found out one of them was real, you’d probably get on a plane before finishing this…oh, there you go. Well, while you’re readying that road trip, you can read up on some of the places of legend you can actually check out.

Hold on to your butts, gang, because while Shangri-La might not be real, you’d be amazed to find out some of the incredible mythological landmarks that are.

10. Mount Olympus, Home of the Gods


Olympus, home of the gods. A golden, sparkling, iridescent paradise where no mortal man dare tread. In Greek mythology, the likes of Zeus, Hera, and Ares shared a pad at the top of a mountain in what would certainly have been the greatest Real World season of all-time. As with most things in myth, it’s also based on a very real place.

The highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus, to be exact. You probably could have guessed that, considering that’s what it was called in the myths, too. You’ve got to hand it to the Greeks – they could find any number of new and inventive ways for Zeus to take advantage of a mortal woman, but coming up with fake names for physical locations was where they drew the line with creative license. Rising high above Greece and its citizens, you can visit this treacherous terrain yourself, if you don’t mind climbing a large and snowy mountain. Don’t expect gods at the top though, just a beautiful view.

9. Troy, Site of the Trojan War  


Troy. You might know it more from the Brad Pitt movie than from mythology, but it’s a well-spring that fueled the works of Homer. Here is where the Trojan war was fought, and heroes of legends were made, including Odysseus, and Achilles of the treacherous heel and even more wobbly accent that Pitt decided to give him. Ending with sea monsters and started by the Goddess of Discord, the Trojan War and its home were long thought myths. But Troy is a real place, because again – the Greeks sucked at creating fantasy lands.

Discovered in the 1800s, Troy is located in Turkey and was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1998. Though it is not in the same shape it was during the war, you can still touch the walls of Troy, behind which the Trojan Horse was rolled in.

8. The Fountain of Youth


The Fountain of Youth. The spring of eternal life and ultimate desire of Ponce de Leon. Sought after by early settlers of North America, the Fountain of Youth is up there with El Dorado (the Lost City of Gold) with myths of the New World.

However, unlike that shining Mecca, the Fountain of Youth does exist. Despite its name, however, there’s no everlasting life to be found for youhere. But there is wonderfully pure mineral water, a lovely tour, and Florida’s sunny weather. Located in St. Augustine, it really seems all-too fitting that the Fountain of Youth would be in Florida, doesn’t it? Suddenly we’re realizing why everyone’s grandparents move down there as soon as their social security checks start rolling in.

7. Atlantis of the Sands


Atlantis, the sunken city of Greek myth is, sadly, not real. However, its cousin city – a city consumed by sand, not water – is.

Iram of the Pillars, the Atlantis of the Sands, is a fabled lost city destroyed by God in the Quaran for her sins – sort of an Islamic Sodom and Gammorah. It’s known by another name though, one which Lawrence of Arabia used for it – Ubar. Located in a place that is almost as mythical as Atlantis, the Rub’ al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), one of the most isolated and inhospitable places on Earth, Ubar was recently uncovered in the desert wasteland. It was originally a trading post for the brave souls who dared to venture from one side of the Quarter to the other. You can travel there – if you dare – but be warned, legends warn the city is populated by spirits you can’t see…but that can see you.

6. Middle Earth (The Shire)


We’re cheating a little with this one, but Middle Earth is as fantastical as Valhalla or the Fountain of Youth with the proverbial kids these days. The land created by JRR Tolkein in his groundbreaking Lord of the Rings series is a wonderful place; from the dark mountains of Mordor, to the plains of Gondor, to the peaceful home of the Hobbits, in the Shire, it’s a land of myth and magic. And, as with the others on this list, you can go visit yourself.

While the New Zealand landscape (along with some hefty CGI) served as the stand in for Mordor, Rohan, and Gondor, Hobbiton itself is actually all there. Just prior to filming, they constructed an entire village that you can visit. There are even tours of the Shire. Now, we know that Tolkien actually based Middle Earth in Europe, and specifically the UK, but the movies and their locations embody the spirit of Tolkien as well as any physical locations used as a basis for the books.

Go see where Bilbo’s going away party was, walk the roads Frodo did as he left the Shire, and see where Sam lived as he penned the last words inthe saga of The Lord of the Rings. Chances are you’ll never want your trip to the Shire to end, which is fitting given how long they stretched outReturn of the King.

5. Roanoke Colony


Roanoke’s mystery has plagued the world since the beginning of America. Early settlers came to the New World looking to make a new life, only to vanish, seemingly without a trace. The only clue to their disappearance was a mysterious word scrawled on a nearby tree – Croatoan. No one knew what it meant and the legend that the colony was wiped out by some supernatural entity has grown over the years, presumably never to be solved.

Except that’s not true, like, at all. The mystery was solved before it even began. Before settling, the early colonists told those who would follow that if they needed to leave for any reason, they would leave a sign of where they were going, and so they did. The mysterious “Croatoan” carved into the tree? That should have immediately tipped people off as to what happened.

The Croatoans were a tribe who lived in the area, on a nearby island. The early settlers travelled to the island, lived there, and even had children with the Croatoans. So if you want to see what happened to the early settlers of Roanoke, just stop by Hatteras Island and see for yourself.

4. Hindu Kingdom of God


Rama is the blue-skinned avatar of the Supreme God in Hinduism. His most famous story is about his fight against Ravana – a many armed, many headed king of Lanka – who kidnapped Rama’s most beloved wife, Sita, and held her captive. To get her back, he built (with the help of a monkey god, because even Hinduism appreciates a buddy comedy featuring talking simians) a huge bridge and travelled from his Kingdom to get her back.

And you can actually see all of that. Well, apart from the monkey god, regrettably. Lanka is now Sri Lanka, and the bridge is famous in the area, known as either Adam’s Bridge or Rama’s Bridge. It used to be an entire land bridge joining India and Sri Lanka, which is where Rama’s Kingdom was. Rama was a king of an actual place in India, called Adodhya. You can go live through the whole adventure, starting off in India, travelling across his bridge and finally getting to Sri Lanka. You’ll have to provide your own monkey sidekick, though.

3. Themiscyra, Home to Wonder Woman 


Wonder Woman is one of the most popular superheroes of all-time, despite what Hollywood wants to believe. She came from a beautiful paradise island called Themiscyra, home to warrior women who can compete with gods. It’s based on a mythological place in Greek mythology, and warrior women found in poems detailing the Trojan War. And like most things in the poem, it was considered mythological.

But, if you’ve been paying attention, you can probably figure out thatThemiscyra is actually real. Don’t expect the Wonder Woman movie to be filmed on location though. Unlike the others mentioned on this list, Themiscyra itself was completely destroyed but you can still visit the former location on the coast of the Black Sea, which looks as close to Paradise as you’re likely to find on this list.

2. Gates of Hell


Travelling to the underworld is a popular journey for heroes of myth, whether it’s to save a loved one, or to gain hidden knowledge. Dante travelled through Hell in his Inferno; Orpheus to save his beloved. All damned souls will pass through the gates to the underworld, and it’s where demons and Satan make their way up to torment us. However, almost all gates of Hell are real places. Now, they are distinctly lacking the ability to transport you to Hell, but there are dozens of them.

From the Cape Matapan Caves, where Greek heroes descended to the underworld; to Hekla, an Icelandic volcano considered the eternal home of Judas Iscariot; to Actun Tunichil Muknal, the terrifying cave network underworld of the Mayans – the Gates of Hell are everywhere.

So, uh, great? Hey, at least it’ll cut down on our travel time once the end rolls around.

1. Armageddon 


The End of Time. Not to be confused with a lousy Ben Affleck movie that you’d never admit to crying at (but you totally did), Armaggedon is from the Bible – the end of time, the battle between Satan and God for the whole Universe. However, in the Bible, Armaggedon isn’t the name of the battle, but the name of the actual battlefield.

Yes, Armaggedon is a real place. It’s located in Israel, and is protected as a World Heritage site. It’s known today as Megiddo. A tel (a type of false hill built from many different people settling in the same area) Megiddo has been home to many different people and wars. Luckily, though, none of them have involved the end of the world. While visiting the birth place of Christ and his crucifixion, make sure to stop by and check out where he’ll come back.

Magical Mythical Tour

– WIF Guide to Legends