If you aren’t going away this half term, there’s no reason why you can’t travel far and wide by reading stories. Nothing transports you better and there are plenty of amazing mythical places you can visit this week. In Storytime issue 21, you can even travel back in time and visit one of the most legendary places of all – the Lost City of Atlantis!
Our illustrations (above and right) by the incredible Karl James Mountford suggest some of the grandeur Atlantis might have had at its peak, before greed and laziness took hold and the Gods plunged the Atlanteans into the depths of the ocean.
The fact that Atlantis isn’t real hasn’t stopped people speculating on its existence and searching for its watery ruins. That’s because Atlantis, like other mythical places, seems to rouse the imagination far more than real locations. Pondering its reality, picturing what it might look like, how people lived and where it might be is exciting. In mythical places, anything is possible, hence the ongoing interest, many centuries on.
It’s also why stories about mythical places are perfect for kids. They take you to impossible locations and inspire creative thinking, as well as activities. For instance, read our Lost City of Atlantis story (you can buy the issue here), then get stuck into making maps or stories, doodling and drawing what it looked like, play acting, or finding out more about Greek gods and Atlantis itself. You might find our Myths and Legends Resource Pack helpful for this too.
So pack your cases and join us on a story adventure to four more…
Favourite Mythical Places
1. Avalon and Camelot – Avalon is another legendary island, made famous in Arthurian legends. It’s a beautiful isle of apple trees, where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged. Some people claim that Glastonbury in Somerset was once Avalon. Camelot, on the other hand, was King Arthur’s magnificent castle and home to the legendary Round Table. Its location remains a long-disputed mystery, though the Welsh stake a fairly strong claim.
2. El Dorado – this myth started life as a tribal chief who spent much of his time covered in gold dust. Over the years, it transformed into a fantastic city made of gold, hidden somewhere in South America. People searched for El Dorado for many centuries, even Sir Walter Raleigh got in on the act! For a long time, El Dorado was even marked on maps, until explorers grew tired of searching and decided it didn’t exist. Or does it? The BBC has an interesting feature on its history.
3. Shangri-La – Shangri-La was first mentioned in a 1933 novel called Lost Horizon by James Hilton. In the novel, Shangri-La was a lush paradise. A mystical hidden valley in Tibet where everything was harmonious and people lived forever. Hilton‚’s Shangri-La was inspired by several Tibetan myths and the legendary Buddhist kingdom of Shambhala. Explorers have been searching for the real Shangri-La for decades. Read more about Shangri-La and its origins here.
4. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon – One of the original Seven Wonders of the World, yet nobody has any idea whether it really existed. The story goes that King Nebuchadnezzar II transformed an arid patch of desert, possibly in Iraq, into beautiful terraced gardens to please his new wife, Amytis. The gardens would have been a bold feat of engineering, but archaeologists still aren’t sure whether they’ve truly tracked them down.
There you have it – an isle of apples, a secret castle, a sunken city, a city of gold, a valley of eternal life and a wondrous garden. Amazing mythical places to please the mind’s eye and hopefully keep you busy for a day! We hope you’ll investigate them further and be inventive and inspired with your kids. Sometimes, a story is truly all you need to get away.
I’m off to Atlantis. See you next week!