Underwater cities offer divers the chance to immerse themselves in history. Discover ancient cultures, explore an underwater prison, or follow in the steps of archeologists by visiting some of these underwater cities.
Canada – Lost Villages of the St. Lawrence River
The St. Lawrence River is home to nearly a dozen “Lost Villages.” The historic towns (some were founded back in the late 1700’s) were sacrificed to the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. Highways and railways were rerouted, residents relocated, and in July 1958, the villages were flooded. View aerial photos of the submerged towns.
China – The Lion City in Qiandao LakeOne hundred feet (30 meters) beneath Qiandao Lake in China lies Lion City, also known as Shi Cheng. Intentionally flooded in 1959 as part of a hydroelectric dam project for the nearby city of Hangzhou, Lion City was built during the Han Dynasty approximately 1,000 years ago.
Underwater features include lions, dragons, and phoenixes carved in stone alongside pagodas and temples from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This dive is recommended for advanced divers with experience diving in low-visibility conditions. An overzealous kick can disturb the fine silt at the lake bottom and visibility can quickly drop to zero. Read more about diving The Lion City.
Rummu, Estonia – Underwater Prison
At the bottom of Rummu Lake is a former Soviet prison. With the right permission and a proper dive guide, it’s possible to safely explore the underwater buildings and sunken forest. The maximum depth is about 42 ft/13 m, with average visibility around 15ft/5 meters.
Good buoyancy skills are a must. The site was never meant for diving and it’s possible to be seriously injured while going for that epic underwater shot. Barbed wire and sharp clams are just a few of the hazards that await divers who don’t pay attention or stray too far. Contact PADI Dive Center Oxygene Tallinn to arrange a dive tour of Rummu.
Greece – Pavlopetri
Pavlopetri is the modern name given to a Bronze Age city located off the coast of Laconia. Researchers believe it may have been part of the Minoan dynasty and an earthquake caused the city to sink beneath the waves. Pavlopetri is a UNESCO site and not open for recreational diving. But you can snorkel above the 5,000 year old city and explore land-based ruins nearby.
Israel – Ruins of Caesarea and Underwater Museum
Divers and snorkelers can participate in an archeological adventure at the Caesarea Underwater Archaeological Park. Explore the underwater ruins of docks, warehouses, boardwalks and ancient shipwrecks.
Visitors receive a guide where each number on a map corresponds to a point of interest underwater. Divers can follow a rope from one point of interest to the next and learn about the ancient city.
Italy – Sunken City of Baiae
In its heydey, Baiae was a hotspot for wealthy and powerful Romans. Today, it’s a great place for divers and snorkelers to dive among ancient statues relics and beautiful mosaics dating from the first century BCE.
Norway- Lake Lygnstøylsvatnet
In 1908, a small Norwegian village unexpectedly became a future scuba diving destination when a rockslide dammed the nearby River Lygna. As water levels rose, the village was evacuated. Today, divers can float across the submerged bridge into the sunken village. Read more about diving Norway’s underwater town.
By Megan Denny
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