In Micronesia is an ancient ruined city built upon a coral reef. History forgets who built it, but local legend tells it was inhabited by a superior race of humans who could command magic and mythical creatures. She is among the most mysterious and unique places on Earth, attracting researchers from all around. It has long been rumored to be the last visible remnant of a lost continent like Atlantis. But another rumor makes some people too scared to come near. According to it, the entire city is cursed and simply setting foot on it can destroy your life.

Welcome to Nan Madol

Upon 92 artificial islands, built on a coral reef is the mysterious city of Nan Madol. It’s the only known ancient city built upon a coral reef. But it’s unknown why it was built on coral when there was so much nearby land available. There’s no obvious reason for this and 800 thousand tonnes of stone were used to build the city – a lot more than would be needed if built on land. It also means life in the city would have been difficult as it was divided up by a network of canals. Archaeologists have no idea how the massive stones used to build the islands were transported here. No current theory seems realistic.

Ask locals and you will hear them explain it with tales of black magic. They will tell you that long ago, two wizards came to the islands from a far away land where dragons and giants live. They arrived by boat with a dragon flying behind and chose to build upon coral as they believed it had mystical properties. Using magic, they levitated the massive stone blocks into place. With their magical island city and loyal dragon the local population accepted them as rulers. One of the wizards had children with a local woman. The family became a dynasty that ruled from the city for many generations.

But in the 16th century the dynasty was overthrown. By this time the secrets of their magic had been long forgotten. I mean at this point it’s basically just Game of Thrones – but set on a coral reef rather than a massive continent. I don’t think Game of Thrones coral reef addition would make it to eight seasons, just saying. So anyway… after many generations the mysterious dynasty ruled from Nan Madol until the arrival of a warrior called Nan Paratak. By the time of his arrival the island’s rulers had become corrupt and tyrannical.

It’s king was known to take the daughter’s of nobles as wives. Local nobles eventually grew tired of their daughter’s living as virtual prisoners to their abusive king and were just waiting for an excuse to rebel. Nanparatak sailed to the island with 300 men and several children. He did not intend to invade the island; but when a fight between local children and the one’s accompanying him escalated it became war. The aggravated nobles joined his side immediately. Yet still it was many years before the current rulers were overthrown and driven into the forest. The forest was then surrounded and set on fire. No member of the dynasty survived, leaving Nanparatak free to become king and establish his own dynasty.

They too ruled from Nan Madol – but eventually abandoned the city believing a curse was put on it by the previous dynasty. It’s not clear how much of this legend is true. Either way, many today believe that death and misfortune will meet anyone to make it their home. As I already mentioned it’s also unclear why the city was built upon islands on top of a coral reed. But the canals have caused many to call it the Venice of the East.

The Mysterious Mu

Before the islands were found to be man made some thought it might be the last visible remains of a lost continent. Researchers believed it was part of a submerged continent called Mu. The concept of Mu was put forward by Augustus Le Plongeon, a Victorian photographer who travelled the globe. According to him a great civilization once called Mu home. But when massive Earthquakes hit Mu the continent sank into the Pacific Ocean. Some of the civilizations ancient knowledge survived, as refugees fled Mu before it was lost. These refugees then created the ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilizations.


His theory was used by H.P. Lovecraft in the Cthulhu mythology, which is a work of fiction but it popularized the concept of Mu. It was thought refugees from Mu first fled to South America, where some stayed to become native Americans. Others then traveled along the coast of Atlantis, which apparently also existed… I forgot to mention that. So anyway, they reached Africa thanks to Atlantis and so human civilization spread across the globe, apart from Antarctica.


Antarctica was too cold even for those who settled in Sweden. The concept of Mu is still believed by some, as if the idea of Nan Madol being of a lost continent. Even if none of these legends are even slightly true, Nan Madol is still an incredibly mysterious place, being built by unknown methods by unknown people and for an unknown purpose. It was likely built to impress – for elite members of society to live in and be separate from people of lower status who lived on the island. We may never know for sure but it;s not unusual to call Nan Madol the eighth wonder of the world.

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