Many individuals have heard a lot about the lost city of Atlantis, an underwater city which Greek philosopher Plato wrote about in 360 BC, and although this city is fictional, there are many mysterious underwater destinations that do exist -- and these real lost cities include one that is believed to have inspired the myth of Atlantis.
The Earth is made up of mostly water, so it should come as little surprise that there are mysterious places within its seas and lakes, many of which have not yet been discovered. And others which remained hidden for thousands of years, until the work of dedicated archaeologists finally paid off. Now, the discovery of several underwater cities has helped researchers learn more about ancient civilizations, but they are also incredibly fascinating. And often, quite eerie.
There are other locations found in the deep sea which are man-made, but for different purposes; some have been created with the aim of using art and environmental science to form a reef structure which promotes marine and coral life. But sculptures have also been erected built to honor lost souls, or to serve as a place of pilgrimage for those devoted to their religion.
Below are 25 underwater locations that can be found across the globe.
25 Shi Cheng Is An Impressive Submerged City In China
The world is filled with many beautiful and interesting places, but few can compare to the magnificence that is Shi Cheng. This ancient city lies 40 meters underwater in the Zhejiang province in China, and according to News.com.au, it dates back to the 2nd century.
Built during the Eastern Han Dynasty, the architecture is impressive and the detailing remarkable, but what makes this city truly fascinating is the eerie feeling it now commands because it is sunken. It came to be this way in 1959 when the Xin’an Dam flooded the city.
24 Japan's Yonaguni Monument Is A Popular Attraction For Divers
Japan is home to an interesting underwater destination referred to as the Yonaguni Monument. It is a giant rock formation comprising of sandstone and mudstone, which was discovered in 1987. According to All That’s Interesting, there is some debate about whether the formation is natural, or was was manmade, but the publication notes there are several details which seem to suggest it could be the latter, and these include the pillars and columns located on the site.
The Yonaguni Monument has become a popular tourist attraction for divers who find themselves in the region.
23 Neptune Memorial Reef Is A Green Burial Site With A Difference
Just east of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, you will find an underwater destination that's worth seeing, the Neptune Memorial Reef. This is not a lost city, but it is no less remarkable. Designed by artist Kim Brandell, the burial ground was opened in 2007, Atlas Obscura reports.
According to the Neptune Memorial Reef website, the location is the world’s largest man-made underwater reef, but it’s also a cremation memorial site (a green burial of sorts). It is located 40 meters underwater, and the structures have produced marine habitat.
22 The Lost City Of Thonis-Heracleion Is Filled With Historial Importance
According to The Guardian, in the early 2000s, divers off the coast of Egypt discovered a statue of Hapy (god of fertility in ancient Egypt), and when they continued to search they made a remarkable discovery; it was the lost city of Thonis-Heracleion, complete with temple ruins, pottery, and jewelry.
The location is the site of present-day Abu Qir bay, and according to Atlas Obscura, the ancient city was once one of the greatest port cities in the world, controlling trade into Egypt. It dates back 2,300 years.
21 Cleopatra’s Palace Was Thought To Have Been Lost Forever
Adding to the interesting ancient Egyptian underwater destinations is Cleopatra’s Palace, which according to Ancient Origins, was first uncovered by French archaeologists, Frank Goddio, and his team in 1998. Located on the sunken island of Antirhodos, this palace was previously thought to have been lost forever because of an earthquake and tidal waves, Go UNESCO reports.
Lonely Planet reveals that today, divers can visit the destination, where they will be able to marvel at statues of sphinxes, as well as columns, platforms, and pavements that once made up the former palace.
20 Archaeologists Made It Their Quest To Find The Civilization Of Urartu
To find Urartu or The Kingdom of Van had long been a quest of archaeologists who wished to uncover the 3,000-year-old civilization. And according to National Geographic, none more so more than archaeologists from the Van Yuzuncu University. It was this team of dedicated explorers that ultimately found the lost city, buried underneath the surface of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey.
The publication notes that the ruins were mostly intact, and are believed to be The Kingdom of Van, a civilization that dates back to the Iron Age.
19 There's A Mysterious Stonehenge-like Structure In Lake Michigan
When you think of Stonehenge, your mind immediately goes to the prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, but there is a different type of Stonehenge, and this rock formation can be found underwater.
The Stonehenge in Lake Michigan was discovered in 2007, at a depth of 12 meters, and according to Ancient Code, it is around 10,000 years old. Researchers believe the rock formation is man-made because the stones all measure the same distance across, which would not occur if the structure was natural.
18 Bohol's Underwater Grotto Is A Pilgrimage Site, But Also A Smart Way To Protect Marine Life
The Philippines is home to an underwater grotto referred to as Bohol. In 2010, it was created at the Danajon reef by the local government of Bien Unido, as a place of meditation and worship. According to ABS CBN News, the religious statues of Mother Mary and the Holy Child Jesus are located 60 feet below sea level.
The aim of the project, according to Choose Philippines, was to discourage fishermen from their illegal and damaging fishing techniques, like the use of dynamite.
17 The Titanic Ruins Are Eeerie And Off Limits
The sinking of the Titanic was a tragedy, and seeing the Wreck of the RMS Titanic at a depth of about 12,500 feet is eerie. The vessel sunk on its maiden voyage in 1912, and according to Atlas Obscura, was discovered by the nonprofit organization, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1985.
The wreck is a landmark and many feel it should be left alone entirely, and it was eventually granted UNESCO protection, under the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.
16 The Ancient Neolithic Village, Atlit-Yam, Is Around 9,000 Years Old
Atlit-Yam is an ancient village, between 8 to 12 meters beneath sea level, that dates back 9,000 years, and is located off the coast of Atlit, Israel. According to Ancient Origins, it is a Neolithic site, which spans across 40,000 square meters, and the submerged village was first discovered by marine archaeologist Ehud Galili in 1984.
Excavations have located many significant pieces, with tremendous historical importance, including human remains, floral and faunal remains, and water wells. According to Atlas Obscura, the site is believed to have been abandoned by the inhabitants because of a tsunami hitting the area.
15 Museo Subacuático De Arte Has Found A Way To Combine Art And Nature
The underwater museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), was formed in 2009, in México waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.
According to the MUSA website, the project was launched by the former President of the Cancun Nautical Association and the Director of the National Marine Park, with the aim of using art and environmental science to create a reef structure that promotes marine and coral life. It is now home to more than 500 permanent sculptures, and visitors can explore them by diving, snorkeling or taking a trip on glass bottom boats.
14 The Amphitrite Statue Off Grand Cayman Is The Queen Of The Sea
For travelers who are in search of something different, there is the Amphitrite statue, located in 55 feet of water off the Grand Cayman Island, Mermaids of Earth reports. The statue that was installed is a 9 foot tall, 600-pound bronze mermaid statue, created by Canadian sculptor Simon Morris.
According to Sports Diver, in Greek mythology, Amphitrite was married to Poseidon, thus making her the queen of the seas. But the name for this mermaid statue was chosen from a competition, and it was a 14-year-old girl who came up with the name and won.
13 Iceland Is Where A Crack In The Earth Is Visible Underwater
The Silfra crack is a rift between North America and Eurasian tectonic plates and is located in the Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. According to Amusing Planet, this crack in the Earth’s surface is widening about 2 centimeters a year, and although it’s barely visible in the Atlantic Ocean, in the waters of the pure Icelandic glaciers it is visible underwater.
According to Dive, there is underwater visibility of over 100 meters in Silfra, and the water remains around 2°C to 4°C year round.
12 Ontario Is Filled With Lost Villages, Some From The American Revolution
The Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1958 submerged communities in the Canadian province of Ontario. The event happened when a controlled explosion opened a cofferdam, and according to Sunken Villages, it took four days for the Lake of St. Lawrence to consume the villages.
According to The Weather Network, there are no less than nine underwater Canadian villages, between Cornwall and Morrisburg. These villages were once home to around 6,500 people, and some of the communities who lived in these now-underwater locations date back to the American Revolution.
11 Baiae Was Once A Resort City For Rich Romans
Baiae is an Ancient Roman town located on the Gulf of Puteoli, 10 miles west of Naples, Britannica reports. It was a resort city popular with the rich and was home to many beautiful villas, including those of Julius Caesar and Nero. But the thing that makes this city really interesting is that more than 328 feet of it is submerged in the bay, and according to the publication, this was due to volcanic activity.
Atlas Obscura reports that the ancient ruins of the city can be visited and it is one of the few underwater archeological parks.
10 Pavlopetri Peloponnese In Greece Could Be The Oldest Submerged City
Of all the cities on this list, it may be Greece’s Pavlopetri Peloponnese that is the oldest submerged city.
The city first came onto the radar in 1967 when it was discovered by Dr. Nicholas Flemming, and according to Learning History, it was mapped for the first time the following year by a team from Cambridge. The researchers determined that the city was dated to the Mycenaean period, 1600 to 1100 BC, but later studies have found it could have been first inhabited in 2800 BC.
9 Olous City Is A Destination That Should Only Be Seen When Underwater
The Sunken City of Olous is located at the present day fishing town of Elounda in Crete.In its heyday, Olous was a powerful city-state near Lato and had its own harbor and coinage, Explore Crete reports.
Here, tourists will be able to see semi-submerged walls from the ruins, and although interesting, it is not quite as magnificent as some of the other destinations on this list. Greek Boston notes that travelers are often disappointed when they travel here by foot, as it’s a destination that should only be explored via snorkeling.
8 The Great Blue Hole Is One Of Nature's Mysteries
The Great Belize Blue Hole is something you can admire from the sky, but also from within the ocean. Every year, this destination is visited by scuba divers who want to marvel at the marine life and coral formations that exist here, and it is considered one of the ten reasons to visit Belize.
According to the Belize website, the hole, which is circular in shape, is a sinkhole off the coast of Belize. It measures 300 meters across and 125 meters deep and is a natural formation unlike any other, which is why it commands attention and has earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its scientific and educational value.
7 The Apollo 11 Engines Look Otherworldy When Left To Erode Underwater
The Apollo 11 moon landing mission played an important role in space travel. After liftoff, the F-1 engines fell into the ocean, and according to Wired, they landed 4 kilometers below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made it his mission to locate the engines. He launched his mission in 2012, and by the following year he had exciting news to reveal; they had recovered the site of the Apollo 11 F-1 engines, 44 years after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon.
They were heavily corroded, which made their appearance underwater beautiful, and almost otherworldly.
6 Las Cruces De Malpique Is A Formation Of Crosses To Honor Lost Souls
The Las Cruces de Malpique is a site that has a collection of forty stone crosses built on sand and rock. According to Princess Hotels & Resorts, it is located 20 meters below the surface on the south end of La Palma island and exists in the memory of the Martyrs of Tazacorte -- men on the vessel Santiago, who were captured by pirates in 1570, and later declared martyrs by Pope Benedict XIV.
The crosses, which now make a fascinating diving spot, were set up in 1999, in honor of the martyrs.
5 The Ancient City Of Dwarka Was Once A Bustling Port City
Stone ruins were found near the Gulf of Kutch, at the present-day town of Dwarka, and, according to Archaeology Online, they are believed to represent the ancient city of Dwarka. Mysterious India notes that according to ancient texts, Lord Krishna founded the holy city of Dwarka, and it is a sacred place of pilgrimage for people of the Hindu faith.
The findings of these stone structures and stone anchors suggest that Dwarka was once a port city, the publication claims.
4 Helike Is Thought To Be The City That Inspired The Myth Of Atlantis
Helike was an Ancient Greek city, which became submerged in 373 BC after an earthquake caused a tsunami, History reports. While this city was for a time believed to just be a legend, archaeologists worked hard to determine if that was true, or if there really was an ancient ruin lying beneath the Corinthian Gulf. In 2001, researchers finally got their proof that this city existed, and found artifacts and ruins which had been covered by an inland lagoon, not an ocean.
Many pieces of historical value, including pottery, were found in this now-excavated settlement. And Helike is believed to have inspired the myth of the lost city of Atlantis.
3 Jamaica's Port Royal Is A UNESCO Site And A Former Pirate Town
In Jamaica, there is a sunk pirate city, which is as fascinating as it sounds. According to Atlas Obscura, Port Royal was once famous for its pirates, rum drinking, and ladies of the night, and it was nearly destroyed by a massive earthquake which hit the island in 1692. The effect of the earthquake resulted in buildings, roads, and people being sucked beneath the ground, and what followed were tsunami waves. After it was all over, 33 acres of the city were submerged.
The publication notes that many buildings were left intact, and for this reason, the site was designated a World Heritage Site in 1999. To dive in the ruins, special permission from the local government must be granted.
2 The Cenotes In The Yucatán Peninsula Are Breathtakingly Beautiful
While many underwater locations are mysterious and eerie because they contain man-made structures representing lost civilizations, there are also natural mysteries worth noting. And perhaps one of the most beautiful of these is the Cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
According to Lonely Planet, these hidden cave locations make for the perfect (and Instagram worthy) swim, and are formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock. The clear water gives tourists a clear view of the seabed, where an abundance of small fish and plant life can be seen, and while it’s not very deep, it’s spectacularly beautiful.
1 Ocean Atlas Is The Largest Underwater Sculpture In The World
Located on the western coastline of New Providence in Nassau in the Bahamas, Ocean Atlas is reportedly the biggest sculpture installed underwater. According to This Is Colossal, it stands at 18 feet tall and is more than 60 tons. The sculpture was designed by artist Jason deCaires Taylor and sponsored by B.R.E.E.F (Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation).
Ocean Atlas was installed in 2014, and according to Underwater Sculpture, it is modeled to look like a local Bahamian girl.