Places of Legend

The National Geographic Channel is airing a special called Finding Atlantis, so it inspired me to think about all the mythic places throughout history that may or may not have actually existed.  Are they locations of myth only, or are the legends about them based on some reality?  Did they stem purely from the imaginations of the people who originally thought them up as works of fiction, or do they have some grounding in fact, embellished but still based on some truth?

The ones that come to mind are:

The Garden of Eden -- The biblical paradise on Earth was the oasis where Adam and Eve frolicked innocently until that darn serpent tempted them to taste the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Four rivers were mentioned, giving readers tantalizing clues of an actual location -- Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. 

Atlantis -- Plato described some interesting details about the lost continent, but he was paraphrasing Socrates who was carrying on an oral tradition of communication -- basically a game of telephone over a thousand years after the rumored city was allegedly destroyed.  Did it ever really exist?  Check out the National Geographic special to learn the latest developments in the age-old mystery.

El Dorado -- Ahh, the "Lost City of Gold," people still want to find it.  Famous explorers risked their lives to search for any clue about its whereabouts.  Is it just a fable or might remnants of it be hidden someplace in the forests of the Amazon or on some otherwise unremarkable tropical island?  Or is it just the stuff of movies and tall tales?

Camelot and Avalon -- They say all myths have some basis in fact.  If so, what can we say about the legend of King Arthur?  Was his kingdom of Camelot real?  Is he buried in a place that was called Avalon?

Shangri-La -- This is a fictional place invented by James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon, but is it any less real than any of the other locations I mentioned above?

Utopia -- Then there is the place synonymous with perfection -- the ideal society as described by Sir Thomas More.  Can it ever exist, or could it have actually at one time existed but is now lost to history?  How many civilations may have come and gone, only to fade away, their achievements never recorded, their footprints erased by the winds of time?

I didn't mention legendary places that we know were real, like Machu Picchu in Peru or Xanadu (Shangdu) in China.  Any other mythic places that might have actually existed?