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1 : À en croire la légende, cette ville aurait été construite par des pirates.

2 : On raconte que cette porte serait brusquement apparue un jour, au cœur d’un terrible blizzard.

I might just as easily have used the Passé Composé or the Passé Subjonctif instead myself.

  • This use of the past conditional reminds me of how reporters/journalists use it to report unconfirmed facts, but they usually don't start each reported information/statistic with "If you believe in what I'm going to report, ..." or "I'm reporting that ... ." If they did (just as in your case) I'd agree with you that the past conditional might not be required. – Papa Poule Dec 9 '16 at 14:43
  • @PapaPoule It wasn't a good idea to use the brackets, after all. Merci. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Dec 9 '16 at 14:47
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It's not mandatory, you can also use indicative (passé composé/passé/sometimes present).

It usually means you're really not sure, or you don't want to assume it's true, just say what the legend says so it's especially relevant if you say "according to..." or "if we believe the legend..."

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Here the use of Conditional is quite logical I think. You don't really know if the story is true or false, so that's why you have to use this tense.

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