12 Imaginary Places
Religion, legends, and literature alike are replete with various conceptions of ethereal or terrestrial paradises or places with romantic flair. Here are a dozen examples of ideal locales, including their names, their origins, and their definitions.
1. Arcadia (the Greek region of Arcadia): an idealized, unattainable pastoral state, bereft of civilization
2. Atlantis (allegorical legend recounted by Plato): an island with a complex, advanced civilization that was submerged in a cataclysmic disaster in preclassical times)
3. Camelot (European legends and folklore): the seat of the court of King Arthur, renowned for its splendor
4. Cockaigne (European medieval legend): a place of idleness and luxury
5. El Dorado or Eldorado (Spanish legend): the name given to a Native American chieftain and, by extension, to the prosperous city and surrounding empire he supposedly ruled; later, a metaphor for happiness or personal fulfillment
6. Erewhon (Samuel Butler’s satirical novel Erewhon): a seemingly utopian society with the same flaws as actual civilization
7. Faerie (European fairy tales and folktales): the magical realm of fairies and other legendary beings
8. Neverland or the Neverlands or Never Never Land (J. M. Barrie’s stage play Peter Pan and his novelization Peter and Wendy): an idyllic land serving as a metaphor for escapism and perpetual childhood
9. Shambhala (Buddhist tradition): a mythical hidden kingdom in Central Asia adopted as an ideal state by believers in mysticism
10. Shangri-La (James Hilton’s romantic novel Lost Horizon): an idealized paradise in a hidden valley in Asia
11. Utopia (Sir Thomas More’s allegorical novel Utopia): an island with a harmonious sociopolitical system; in uncapitalized form, any idealized society
12. Xanadu (Chinese history): a city in what is now Inner Mongolia, the historical summer palace of Kublai Khan, but also, inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, an idealized place of luxurious splendor
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