We have all heard of the ancient underwater city of Atlantis, but as we are all aware, the ancients are no strangers to heavily exaggerating their stories. For this very reason, many have questioned whether the legend of Atlantis was actually based around what was once considered a great city that fell into the depths of the ocean due to natural causes.
While Atlantis is still yet be found, archaeologist have managed to discover - over the past century - a number of mind blowing underwater cities that show many similar characteristics and date back as far as 10,000 years ago.
However, thanks to strict government laws many of these ancient underwater ruins are not available for the public to visit in hopes that they can preserve the location from any further damages occurring. However, some particular sites have been opened to the public after archaeologist were finished documenting the area.
If you ever get the chance, here are five stunning underwater ancient cities that you can actually explore.
Lion City – Qiandao Lake, China
Hidden below the surface of the Qiandao Lake in the Zhejiang Province of China are two mysterious ancient cities that date back as far as the Han and Tang dynasties.
The Qiandao Lake was intentionally created in 1959 when it was flooded to create the Xin’anjiang Reservoir and Xin’an River hydroelectric station – causing more than 290,000 people to relocate their homes.
Despite being forgotten for over 50 years, the ancient city was rediscovered in 2001 where early divers described the site as a ‘time capsule’ as almost every structure remains completely intact, including wooden beams and stairs. For those adventurous enough, local dive operators host regular tours where they take you diving to experience the ruins first hand.
Pavlopetri – Greece
Discovered by Nicholas Flemming in 1968, the ancient ruins of Pavlopetri are believed to date back all the way to the Mycenaean period during 1600-1100 BC. While the cause of Pavlopetri’s fall has yet to be determined, oceanographers have reason to believe that the city has been submerged since approximately 1000 BC, thanks to a series of earthquakes that affected the area.
With pottery dating back to the stone ages, the sunken city consists of multiple buildings, courtyards, tombs, religious structures, and a series of neatly laid out streets. Thankfully though, Pavlopetri sits only 3-4 meters underwater, which is why it has become the ideal location for diving and snorkeling– however, just be careful though as there is a very strict no touching policy in place.
Cleopatra’s Palace – Alexandria, Egypt
Presumed to be lost during a terrible earthquake and tsunami more than 1,400 years ago, Cleopatra’s Palace and Alexandria’s old lighthouse were among some of the greatest ancient wonders of the world.
Found during the 1990’s, archaeologists have discovered many amazing features such as: ancient cargo ships, jewellery, vases, pillars, and even Cleopatra’s palace that consisted of shrines, temples, statues and 2 perfectly persevered sphinxes.
Luckily for those that are not certified divers, the site is only 5-8 meters below the surface – making it the perfect place to explore for those that may not have a lot of experience in diving. While many claim that the experience is amazing, just be sure that you understand exactly what you’ll be viewing as many of the detailed artifacts have been placed into museums for safe keeping.
Baiae – Italy
The sunken city of Baiae is often praised as one the most spectacular ancient underwater cities that you can actually visit as many of the famous sunken cities have banned the general public from ever visiting. From ancient brick piers, columns, luxury villa’s, and baths, Baiae is one of the few sunken cities that still have many of its core features still intact for you to explore.
No matter how adventurous you may be feeling, the sunken city of Baiae has a little something for everyone as the popular tour destination has daily tours scheduled for Glass Bottom Boats, Diving, and even Snorkeling. Just remember, don’t take anything from the site as it is against the law.
Yonaguni Monument– Japan
Discovered in 1986 by Yonaguni-Cho Tourism Director Kihachiro Aratake the Yonaguni Monument has been the cause of many debates as nobody can provide a definite answer as to how the underwater ruin was actually formed. While many geologists believe the pyramid shaped ruins are a natural formation, others firmly disagree and believe they are in fact artificial structures that were constructed by humans at least 10,000 years ago.
If you’re looking to explore this underwater ruin, experienced divers can take part in a number of regularly scheduled tours – however, be prepared for strong currents and rough surface conditions.