Ancient Underwater City in China
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
There is a mysterious ancient underwater city located in Chun’an County, Zhejiang, China that is easily comparable to the lost city of Atlantis. It is called Shicheng or Lion City. Situated at the foot of the Wushi Mountain or Five Lion Mountain beneath a manmade lake, it is believed to have dated back from 1,300 years ago.
Based on findings, Shicheng was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty. The size of the area is half a square kilometer. Back in those days, it was the center of politics, economics, and culture in Zhejiang. According to an old map of this city, there were 5 gates and 5 towers in all directions, with 2 on the west. There were also 6 streets that connect every corner of the city. These were stone roads made of flagstone and pebbles. The houses inside the city were built with bricks and wood. There were also magnificent carvings and engravings of inscriptions on walls, statues of lions, dragons, and phoenixes. There were a total of 265 archways all over the city.
The difference from other sunken cities is that it was intentionally flooded with water in 1959 and was completely forgotten for 53 years. The manmade lake was called Qiandao Lake or Thousand Island Lake and the hydroelectric station was called Xin’an Dam. Around 300,000 people were relocated and evacuated for this project.
Mysterious Preservation and Rediscovery
The stone architecture is believed to have originated in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Despite its old age, the underwater city maintained the glory of its structure including walls, statues, arches, and wooden details. It hasn’t eroded that much although there are portions taken over by sea life. Archaeologists are baffled and amazed at how much they can discover from the well-preserved sunken ruins. There are a lot of traditional Chinese statures that are submerged but still in perfect shape.
The lack of wind and sun exposure helped in keeping the city intact. Though it is believed that the water used to flood the city did not contain any corrosive chemicals. The consistent water temperature also helped in the preservation. Since it is manmade, there is no marine animals that might dwell in the ruins. Over the years since the city was submerged, it was undisturbed and hidden at a depth of 26 to 40m.
In 2001, the lost civilization submerged in the manmade lake was discovered when the Chinese government organized an expedition. It even garnered more worldwide interest for exploration when the Chinese National Geography published some before and after pictures and illustrations of the sunken city.
The Ruins Today
The underwater city has become a paradise for underwater photographers and divers. Since its discovery, divers go on expeditions to explore other areas in the underwater city. Up to this day, the pristine condition of the sunken civilization makes the professional divers want to establish it as a tourist site complete with tours and routes. There are even plans for submarine tours for viewing purposes only. Underwater tunnels are also being considered since this is better than the submarine tours.
Unfortunately, the entire underwater city has not yet been fully mapped for a guided tour, so all visits are only for experienced divers. Dive operators such as Big Blue and Zi Ao Diving Club conduct regular exploration for professional divers between April and November.
The underwater city’s rich history can reveal more about how the powerful dynasties lived an ancient way of life and their old architecture. Aside from that, the artificial lake is a sight to see. Since it has already been a recreational area, a local tourism official suggests making Shi Cheng a destination for diving clubs. The location of the lake is just 400km south of Shanghai and it is accessible via buses.
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