17 Mythical Places That Actually Exist

You’ve likely heard all the fascinating legends and stories growing up and struggled to determine what’s made up and what actually exists! We’re here to help. From The Hanging Gardens of Babylon to King Arthur’s Camelot, this article shares 17 legendary tales and their connections to real-world locations.

Mount Olympus

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As the stories go, Mount Olympus is home to the Greek Gods. Naturally, this is located in Greece, though there are actually multiple peaks named Olympus across Europe. In mythology, it’s revered as the abode of the Greek pantheon. In reality, it’s a majestic mountain with archaeological significance and multiple peaks, offering a glimpse into ancient Greek beliefs.

Sherwood Forest

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The tale of Robin Hood is an extremely well-known one, and Sherwood Forest is famed as the hideout of the legendary outlaw. The good news is that you can actually visit! Sherwood Forest is located in Nottingham, England. It’s a real forest, now a National Nature Reserve, steeped in history and folklore.


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The infamous site of the Trojan War and central to the iconic Greek tales, Troy is steeped in more than 4,000 years of history. The archaeological site is located in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and is open to visitors. According to UNESCO World Heritage, “Troy is located on the mound of Hisarlık, which overlooks the plain along the Turkish Aegean coast.”

King Arthur’s Camelot

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Known as the capital of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, you may have wondered if the stories are true and if King Arthur’s Camelot can actually be visited. The answer is—sort of. There are multiple sites in the UK that historians claim to be the real location, such as Cadbury Castle in Somerset.

Cyclopean Isles

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If you’re hoping to see the Cyclops, unfortunately, you’re going to be disappointed. However, you can visit the Aeolian Islands in Italy to see the place featured in Homer’s Odyssey as the dwelling of the Cyclops. It’s an archipelago with unique geological formations and inspiring tales of the mythical one-eyed giant.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

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One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are a sight to behold. As shared by Britannica, “British archaeologist Leonard Woolley suggested that the gardens were built within the walls of the royal palace at Babylon, the capital of Babylonia (now in southern Iraq).” The location is said to be near present-day Hillah, Babil Province, in Iraq.

Lake Guatavita

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Lake Guatavita in Colombia, associated with the El Dorado legend of the city of gold, has long captivated explorers and historians. This serene lake, tied to the Muisca tribe’s gold rituals, represents the elusive pursuit of wealth and mystery. It draws lots of visitors to its tranquil waters and lush surroundings​.

Wat Huay Mongkol

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This not-so-mythical place is known as the home of the “miraculous monk,” and is located in Thailand. Phra Luang Phor Tuad was known for his miracles and Wat Huay Mongkol is home to several statues of the monk, reflecting his revered status in Buddhism.

Sites of Paul Bunyan Legends

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The legend of Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack, is celebrated across North America with statues and landmarks. From Minnesota’s Bemidji to Maine’s Bangor, these tributes to Bunyan’s mythical feats, like creating the Grand Canyon, reflect the enduring charm of North American folklore​.

Origins of the Chinese Zodiac

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As shared by the Lam Museum of Anthropology, “A zodiac system has existed in Chinese culture since the Qin dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago.” Rooted in tales of animal races, the zodiac system is integral to Chinese culture. For those who are interested, there are various locations in China that offer insights into the ancient lunar calendar system.

Great Zimbabwe

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The legendary medieval castle of Great Zimbabwe is known as a stone fortress built by an ancient African civilization. Built around AD 900, it’s now an archaeological wonder that is famed for its large circular wall and tower—a testament to Africa’s rich historical tapestry​.


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Known as the eighth wonder of the world, the legends tell the story of a majestic castle built atop a boulder. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in Sri Lanka, features an astonishing ancient palace with unique architectural features.

Leptis Magna

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Leptis Magna, a once-thriving Roman city in Libya, was lost to a sandstorm and rediscovered as a well-preserved ruin. Its magnificence as a major trading hub of the Roman Empire is evident in its grand structures, reminding visitors of the empire’s vast influence and architectural mastery​.


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Xanadu, the legendary palace of Kublai Khan described by Marco Polo, was real. Found in China, its grandeur is said to have matched the vivid accounts of a marble palace amidst a sprawling park. Today, according to UNESCO, the large archaeological site is generally covered by grassland.


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The city of Thebes is associated with several Greek myths, including the story of Oedipus. It’s now known in modern times as Thiva and can be visited in Greece. Thiva is a stunning historical city with archaeological significance, reflecting its mythological past.


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Linked to Lord Krishna in the Mahabharata, Dvaraka was a major city eventually submerged underwater. Once simply known as a myth, recent underwater explorations in India suggest the existence of the ancient city, possibly one of the oldest on Earth, mirroring the city’s description in the epic tale.


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“Arcadia was a mythical rural realm ruled by the god Pan,” as per the National Gallery. It’s largely known as a utopian land of natural beauty in Greek mythology, but it’s also a real geographical region in Greece, embodying the mythological idea of a pastoral paradise.

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