13 Mind-blowing Underwater Cities That Deserve to be Called ‘Modern-day Atlantis’

Once upon a time, there was a really advanced city, some would say even too advanced for its time. The legend says that one day, the ocean swallowed the city and it was never seen again. This is a legend most of you heard about: the legend of Atlantis. We still can’t be sure whether Atlantis existed or not but what we can be sure of is that there are several once-great cities that today lie underwater. In this article, we’ll share some of the most mind-blowing underwater cities of our time that you probably didn’t hear about, or how I like to call them, our modern-day Atlantis.

Yonaguni Pyramid, Japan

yonaguni pyramid
by Melkov/Wikimedia Commons

The Pyramids of Yonaguni are certainly one of the most amazing sights in the world and one of the most mind-blowing underwater cities. First of all, it’s confusing how did the Egyptian mythological symbol of such size end up just next to the Japanese coast. Scientists are still debating whether the pyramids are man-made or it was a natural occurrence, with both sides not providing enough evidence. However, both sides agree on one fact; the pyramid is older than 12,000 years.

Shi Cheng (Lion City), China

Shi Cheng, also known as The Lion City is one of China’s most popular tourist attractions. The city was founded during the rule of the Han dynasty around 2,000 years ago and was once the economic hub of the eastern province Zhejiang. However, the amazing architecture and intriguing statues didn’t save the city from flooding in the 1950s when the government decided to build a new hydroelectric power station. Today, all of the amazing sculptures and buildings are around 130 feet underwater. What’s left of the Shi Cheng is a flooded city with a size roughly equal to 63 football fields.

Dwarka, Gulf of Cambay, India

This city was supposedly the ancient home of Lord Krishna and was once considered to be a myth. However, the ruins discovered in the mid-2000s prove that this city wasn’t only an Indian fairytale. The ruins of the ancient city are located 130 feet beneath the ocean surface, confirming that Dwarka is one of the seven oldest cities of India. Artifacts taken out from the ruins have amazed archaeologists, with the oldest ones dating back to as early as 7500 BCE.

Port Royal, Jamaica

Once upon a time, Port Royal was one of the most frequented places in Jamaica. The city was famous as the ‘Pirate hub of Jamaica’ and as the ‘Most sinful city of the world’. Reading about this city, I totally see where ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ got its inspiration from. In 1692, after the big earthquakes that hit Jamaica, Port Royal was swallowed by the ocean. Most of the inhabitants died. Some people still claim that this was God’s punishment for the most sinful city in the world which today lies forty feet underwater.

port royal underwater city

Villa Epecuen, Argentina

32 years ago, one of the most famous spa towns in Argentina vanished when Lake Epecuen completely flooded the town after the heavy rains. 5,000 people lost everything they had with the blink of an eye. In 2009, the lake began to recede and in 2011 the town got back one of its inhabitants. Pablo Novak is currently the only resident of Villa Epecuen.

villa epecuen underwater cities
by Santiago Matamoro CC by 3.0

Heracleion, Egypt

Near the coast of Alexandria lies the ancient palace of Cleopatra, part of the sunken city of Heracleion. According to most scientists, the city ruins have been cast into the sea after an earthquake 1600 hundred years ago and remained there until being discovered in the early 2000s. A lot of ancient artifacts were found in the flooded city, including Cleopatra’s grave and the temple of Isis. Unfortunately, the ruins are still not open to visitors, but we hope that’ll change soon. There’s a lot to see down there.

Atlit-Yam, Israel

atlit yam
by Hanay/Wikimedia CC by SA 3.0

This list couldn’t be complete without one of the oldest underwater cities- Israel’s Atlit-Yam; an ancient Neolithic village that shows there were signs of organized life on this territory 8,300 years ago! Some of the most remarkable sights of Atlit-Yam are the 10-acre stone circle that looks a lot like an underwater version of the Stonehenge and the megalithic monument at which 65 human skeletons were discovered. Interestingly, two of them showed signs of tuberculosis, making them the two oldest cases of this widespread disease.

underwater cities

Baiae, Italy

The city of Baiae was the Las Vegas of ancient Rome. The city was famous for its hot springs and its bohemian status, attracting noble people from around the kingdom. By 1500, the former luxurious city was abandoned and the water levels flooded the city, drowning everything in it. Today, the ancient city remains are ‘partying’ 20 feet below the surface.

CuronVenosta (Graun im Vinschgau), Italy

The city of Curon Venosta is located beneath Resia Lake near the border of Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Curon Venosta was flooded after WW2 when the building of a dam went wrong. The only thing left on the surface is the bell tower of what was once the biggest church in the town. To make things even more interesting, the lake freezes during winters and you can literally walk to the tower, knowing that there’s an entire city below your feet.

CuronVenosta

What’s even more interesting, people claim that they still occasionally hear the bell ring from the tower, despite the fact that the bell was removed 30 years ago…

Pavlopetri, Greece

Halfway between the southern Laconia coast and Elafonisos Island, you can discover the majestic remains of Pavlopetri. After initial estimates showed that the city dates back to the early Mycenean era, further investigation showed that the city is actually between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, making Pavlopetri arguably the oldest submerged lost city in the world.

pavlopetri
by Spiridon Ion Cepleanu/Wikimedia CC by SA 3.0

Vilarinho da Furna, Portugal

Vilarinho da Furna was one of the oldest villages in Portugal before being intentionally flooded during the dam construction; the village which was flooded in 1972 has been around since the early days of the Roman Empire. Today, the land leftovers still belong to the descendants of the owner of the only surviving house. Unfortunately for them, their property is useless as it’s underwater throughout most of the year. 

Bonus #1: Mauritia

This one isn’t really a city, but rather a whole continent. Some scientists in the past claimed that there used to be a piece of land connecting the Indian subcontinent to Mauritius and Madagascar. And there has been some proof about this claim recently. This huge piece of land was swallowed by the sea during massive movements of land across the Earth’s surface.

However, according to scientists, this wouldn’t have been the best place to live. Mauritia was covered in volcanoes and earthquakes were quite common across the continent.

Bonus #2: Ocean Spiral, Japan

So far, we covered a lot of underwater cities whose glory days are far behind them. But how about an underwater city of the future? As futuristic as it may sound, Shimizu Corporation (Japanese construction firm) has been working on creating a modern-day Atlantis that can seriously revolutionize our contemporary living ways. The ambitious project is named Ocean Spiral and they’re working to making the city completely self-sufficient by harnessing the resources of the ocean.

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It’s mind-blowing how most of these underwater cities used to be so important in the past and today most people don’t even know about them. The game of history is surely a fascinating one…

Which one of these unfortunate underwater cities was your favorite? Which one would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments.

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10 thoughts on “13 Mind-blowing Underwater Cities That Deserve to be Called ‘Modern-day Atlantis’”

  1. I can’t believe the number of modern-Atlantis around the world. The most fascinating one for me is The Yonaguni Pyramid in Japan whether it’s man-made or not. It’s sad to read about Villa Epecuen in Argentina though. I think because it happened not too long ago.

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  2. THis looks so incredible and If they are real, I cannot imagine how many are still undiscovered as water depth still hides a lot. I loved the pyramid in Japan the most, this is truly impressive. I would add to this list underwater ancient city in Turkey, on the south, which was put under water after the earthquake. It looks really impressive to snorkle there.

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  3. There are so many underwater cities. It’s surprising how many of these were created on purpose by flooding when dams were created. Jal Mahal in India is fascinating since you can visit it when the waters only cover the bottom floors.

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  4. I loved the list of underwater cities and great to know about them, as Legend of Atlantis is always interesting for me. I was knowing about Dwarka and visited many times but it is great that it existed 7500 BCE. I never knew about Jal Mahal’s first four floors were flooded and sometimes when the water level is higher then the only rooftop can be seen. Thanks for sharing a very interesting post.

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  5. Of course I have heard the legends of Atlantis. But how exciting to read about some real life underwater cities! All of them are intriguing but it’s especially exciting that the ruins of Cleopatra’s Palace might one day be open to visitors.

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  6. Woah! I did not know these existing. The Cleopatra’s place is definitely on top of my bucket list now and I hope they will someday open to visitors. These underwater cities are very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing these. I got so excited reading your post.

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  7. Whoa! This is a rather unusual concept to travel! I’m super glad to see that there are 2 sites from my country, India!
    Yes, when they first discovered the 7500BCE artefact in Dwarka, it made major headlines in the art / history/ archaeology communities.
    I really hope the excavations there resume and more information is unearthed!

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  8. Your article is soooo interesting. I never thought there were so many cities submerged around us and the story behind each one is so fascinating. I have never been to any of these places but the idea of going underwater and seeing these places sounds so fun.

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  9. I’m not a fan of underwater to be honest but when I saw these photos, my heart skipped fast and was really happy seeing them. I want to see them in real person. I just wish I know how to dive or swim. This is a very good read. I’ll share this to my bestfriend.

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