Atlas of Vanishing Places: The Lost Worlds as They Were and as They are Today – Travis Elborough

Atlas of Vanishing Places. What a cool title! 

The travel section offered by Edelweiss is pretty rich, full of books I’d be interested in, but as I’m a little old lady swimming in a sea of words, I’m forced to pick and choose. This time, the title was a discerning factor, as nostalgia of old atlases reared in. You know the paper ones, detailing small towns and national parks alike? Yup.


Imagine what the world once looked like as you discover places that have disappeared from modern atlases.

Have you ever wondered about cities that lie forgotten under the dust of newly settled land? Rivers and seas whose changing shape has shifted the landscape around them? Or, even, places that have seemingly vanished, without a trace?

Following the international bestselling success of Atlas of Improbable Places and Atlas of the Unexpected, Travis Elborough takes you on a voyage to all corners of the world in search of the lost, disappearing and vanished. Discover ancient seats of power and long-forgotten civilizations through the Mayan city of Palenque; delve into the mystery of a disappeared Japanese islet; and uncover the incredible hidden sites like the submerged Old Adaminaby, once abandoned but slowly remerging.

With beautiful maps and stunning colour photography, Atlas of Vanishing Places shows these places as they once were as well as how they look today: a fascinating guide to lost lands and the fragility of our relationship with the world around us.

208 pages
Quarto Group – White Lion


Cover: Um. Nope? Maps are interesting, but here I’m feeling like Bruce Dickinson, water, water everywhere.


  • AofVP, written by Travis Elborough, is a comprehensive book based on places that have either faded away already or are on the brink of fading. Divided in four sections (Ancient Cities, Forgotten Lands, Shrinking Places, and Threatened Worlds), it gives us a broad impression of cities and locations scattered around the world. Every continent is covered, a feat I’m very happy about.
  • While the writing itself gives me pause every now and then, the tales Elborough tells are interesting enough. A lost island–as in, it was there at some point and then it went pouf, gone–a temple scoured by the sea, a Fleet with a capital F in London… I mean, wow! I’ve got to learn something new with every chapter, and that’s a valuable thing.
  • There are less photos than I expected, but they are impressive nonetheless. I do like seeing the big picture and the small details both, and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about well-known spots like Petra or more obscure ones like Skara Brae. Show me everything 😀
  • I already mentioned the sections, and I think it was a good idea to structure AoVP like that. It makes for easier searching.

Special mention:

  • Port Royal, Jamaica. Lawless place, yes, but the concept itself is fascinating.
  • Roanoke, USA. The whole story gave me the chills, no lie.
  • The Dead Sea, Jordan/Israel. This is my second fave sea! The first one is of course the Aral Sea.
  • The Great Wall, China. I’ll forever be fascinated by it.
  • The Everglades, USA. Swamps. I mean, the aerial picture is amazing.


  • Well, the main problem I have with AoVP is that it’s lackluster. The maps–I’m blaming the color palette here– and the writing, they both have potential but they end up falling short. Elborough’s style puzzles me sometimes, certain turns of phrases or word usage sound a bit odd, and I couldn’t shake the feeling off throughout the whole book. 

3 stars on GR.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s