Few legends are as famous and enduring as that of Atlantis. Plato created the legend over 2,000 years ago. But why is it still popular? Is it based on a real event? And if so could it ever be found? Debate still rages over these questions and is likely to continue to rage on for years to come.

While we may never find the fabled city of Atlantis, we have found a number of other lost cities and civilizations. One can actually visit the lost Inca capital city of Vilcabamba in Peru today. If in Italy one can visit the formerly lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum - buried under an ocean of volcanic ash.

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Plato's Legend of The Lost City of Atlantis

One of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato's most famous stories is that of Atlantis. The story of the cataclysmic destruction of an ancient civilization. The story has been told countless times over the last 2,300 years since Plato's death and is a story that continues to capture the imagination. It's a story that has so many elements that people love to fantasize about (and Hollywood loves to make countless movies about).

According to National Geographic this story "is almost certainly false." The reasoning comes more apparent when one considers that Plato said the founders of Atlantis were half god and half-human. The civilization they created was utopian and they became a great naval power.

The islands were filled with gold, silver, and other precious metals and the home of rare and exotic wildlife. There was a great capital city on the center island. Atlantis, he said, was made up of concentric islands that were separated by wide moats but the people eventually became greedy and "morally bankrupt."

  • Origin: Plato Told The Story Around 360 BC
  • An Ancient Civilization: Plato Said Atlantis Existed Around 9,000 Years Before His Time

Plato claimed that the story had been passed down over the millennia by priests and poets, but his writings are the oldest known today.

Many of these details can not be true. But many stories were embellished (read the story of Troy for example that most scholars believe did take place).

Scholars note that Plato included many philosophical theories in his story including ones of divine versus human nature, gradual corruption of human society, and others. He used the story of Atlantis to deliver some of his favorite themes.

The story is one of moral and spiritual decline where the gods sent fire and destruction upon Atlantis to cause it to sink beneath the waves (rather like that of Sodom).

Related: Pompeii Was Destroyed 1,924 Years Ago, But Many People Still Don't Know These Things About The City

Other Tales Of The Destruction of Civilizations

There are other stories of the destruction of ancient civilizations over which scholarly debate continues to rage as to whether they were based on truth or not.

  • The Destruction of Sodom And Gomorrah: Debate Continues To Rage
  • The Siege of Troy: Considered To Be Based on A True Event
  • The Destruction of Pompeii: Definitely True And One Can Visit Today

But Could Altantis Be Based On Real Events?

Unfortunately, there are very few scientists who think that Atlantis actually existed. But that's boring. So going with the minority view that it may have, where could it have been?

There are many theories that it may have been an island in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Spain - or just outside of the Strait of Gibraltar in the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the theories put forward have been somewhat credible, while others have been exercises of humanity's boundless flights of fancy. Locations have been suggested for just about any location one can point to on the map (even under what is now Antarctica).

Cataclysmic floods and volcanic explosions have happened throughout history and on rare occasions, they have ended civilizations. If the legend of Atlantis is based on history, then it would likely have been somewhere close to the ancient Greek world.

Related: The Lost City Of Cahokia: 10 Theories About What Took Place There

The Theory Atlantis Was The Minoan Island of Santorini

Perhaps the most credible explanation is the massive volcanic eruption that devastated the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea (today part of Greece).

It is known that a highly advanced society of Minoans lived on Santorini and that the Minoan civilization disappeared suddenly around about the time of the volcanic eruption.

The eruption was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. It happened at the height of the Minoan civilizations and left a massive caldera surrounded by volcanic ash hundreds of meters deep.

  • Eruption: Called The Minoan Eruption ( or the Thera Eruption)
  • Date: Around 3,600 Years Ago (around 1,300 Years Before Plato)
  • Tsunami: The Large Tsunami Is Hypothesized To have Devastated the Minoan Civilizations On Crete

It is even possible that it could have indirectly triggered the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.

Next: Lost City Of Atlantis: 25 Things We Thought Were True (But Are Actually False)