No great metropolis stands forever. Eventually, every city falls. Some due to war, others to disaster. But the saddest and most poignant ruined cities might be the ones which have been swept under the ocean. Here are some of the most beautiful submerged cities.
Top image: Alexandria.
Alexandria, Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC
Some of the most interesting sections of the magnificent city, including the palace quarter with Cleopatra’s Palace on the Island of Antirhodos and the old city of Rhakotis, were submerged by tidal waves and earthquakes more than 1200 years ago.
(via Franck Goddio)
Heracleion (also known as Thonis), Egypt, founded in the 8th century BC
This ruin was discovered in 2000 by Team IEASM (Institut Européen D’Archéologie Sous-Marine). Before the foundation of Alexandria, it was the most important port of Egypt. And it was sunk in the 8th century.
Heracleion had the temple of Amun, which played an important role in rites associated with dynastic continuity.
(via Franck Goddio)
Canopus, in the eastern outskirts of modern-day Alexandria
First mentioned in the 6th century BC. Canopus was known for its sanctuaries of Osiris and Serapis. Discovered in 1933 by Prince Toussoun.
(via Franck Goddio)
Mystical stone structures below the waters off Yonaguni Jima Island, Japan, discovered by a local diver in 1986
Is that a 5,000-year-old city sunk by an earthquake 2,000 years ago with an awesome monolithic, stepped pyramid — or just a natural sandstone structure?
There are ruins of a castle, five temples, a triumphal arch and at least one large stadium, connected by roads and water channels, according to Masaaki Kimura, a marine geologist at the University of the Ryukyus.
Saeftinghe (or Saaftinge), southwest Netherlands, now a swamp known as the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe
The land around the town was lost in the All Saint’s Flood of 1570, and the city was sunk in 1584, during the Eighty Years’ War, where Dutch soldiers were forced to destroy the last intact dike around the town.
Port Royal, Jamaica, founded in 1518 and destroyed by an earthquake, a tsunami and fires in 1692
It was a popular spot for the English and Dutch sponsored privateers to spend their treasure in the 16th century, but later it turned to the main base of pirates. The earthquake of 1692 liquefied the sand, and lots of buildings slid into the water or simply sank straight down.
The city of Baiae (also known as Campania) and the Portus Julius, home port of the western Imperial Fleet, Bay of Naples, Italy, a popular resort for the ultra wealthy in the last decades of the Roman Republic. It had a casino and a giant swimming pool, too.
Baiae was sacked by Muslim raiders in the 8th century, and was entirely deserted because of an epidemic of malaria around 1500. The most of the buildings are now under water, due to local volcanic activity.
The 5,000 years old city was discovered in 1967 by Nicholas Flemming, but the archeologist kept finding new buildings every year.
The Neolithic village of Atlit-Yam, off the coast of Atlit, Israel
This site, lies 25-40 ft (8-12 m) beneath sea level dates at least between 6900 and 6300 BC. There are some rectangular houses, wells and a stone semicircle with seven megaliths, 1320 lb. each. Ten flexed burials have been discovered, including a woman and child who were the earliest known cases of MTB (tuberculosis).
(via Wikimedia Commons)
Lion City (Shi Cheng) of Qingdao Lake, China
The city was flooded in 1959 to create an artificial lake for the Xin’an River Dam Project. 290,000 people were relocated.
Shi Cheng was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty (between 25 and 200). In the 7th and 8th century this place was a cultural, economical and political center, but now it lies 90 feet (27 m) below the surface.
Samabaj, the Lost Maya City in Lake Atitlan, Guetamala, found by Roberto Samayoa Asmus in 1996
The most important spiritual and healing center in Guatemala for over 2,000 years, Lake Atitlán has been inhabited since at least 300 BC. Ceremonies were performed from 200 BC-200 AD at a now-submerged temple on one of three islands off San Lucas.
Samabaj vanished beneath the water about 1,700 years ago, when the lake suddenly rose 20 meters. Archaeologists think Volcan Atitlán may have erupted and blocked the outlets at the bottom of the lake with mud.
But Lake Atitlán continued as a ceremonial center and remains a sacred site where Mayan astrology and spirituality are still practiced by many Maya as well as by people who visit from around the world or who now call the lake their home. – according to Mayan Calendar Users Guide.
Here’s a Spanish video with more pictures of the site (from 0:50), the found pottery and other artifacts:
and another one with English subtitles:
Bezidu Nou (Hungarian: Bözödújfalu, German: Neudorf)
The whole village, including two old churches, was flooded in 1988, and since then only one churchtower has been visible for more than two decades. This place was only one of the many destroyed towns and villages in the Ceaucescu-era.
Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde, an ancestor of the British Queen Elizabeth II was born here in 1812, but her final resting place was in the Reformed church of the town, which was renovated in 1936 thanks to a donation from Queen Mary of England, great-granddaughter of count Rhédey.