China's Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China

China’s Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China

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China’s Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China

Shi Cheng, Chun’an County, Zhejiang, China. An ancient city, established about 1300 years ago, now lies at the 26-40 m depth underwater. The city and the valley were deliberately flooded in 1959 in order to create an artificial lake and hydroelectric power station. Now it could be a unique paradise for divers.

A maze of white temples, memorial arches, paved roads, and houses… hidden 130 feet underwater: this is China’s real-life Atlantis.

The so-called Lion City, tucked in a lake between the Five Lion Mountain, was once Shi Cheng – the centre of politics and economics in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

But in 1959, the Chinese government decided a new hydroelectric power station was required – so built a man-made lake.

Erecting a dam, the historical metropolis was slowly filled with water until it was completely submerged by the turquoise-blue mass now referred to as Qiandao Lake.

China's Atlantis: Shi Cheng an Ancient Underwater City in China
Metropolis: Shi Cheng, dubbed Lion City after the Lion Mountains that surround it, has lain hidden under 131 feet of water since 1959 to generate hydroelectric power
Classical: The structures in Shi Cheng were built 1,300 years ago featuring traditional Chinese statues. Away from the wind and sun, it has remained intact

Depending on where on the lake bottom it is, the city is between 85 and 131 feet underwater.

And it lay forgotten for 53 years.

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote about Atlantis some 2,600 years ago, describing it as ‘an island situated in front of the straits called the Pillars of Hercules.’ 

Carvings: Visitors will be able to see the traditional engravings first-hand when guided by Qiu Feng and her team

He said the island he called Atlantis ‘in a single day and night… disappeared into the depths of the sea.’

Searches continue across the Mediterranean, particularly around Gibraltar, to find the original Atlantis.

But China’s manmade version will soon be a renowned attraction. Qiu Feng, a local tourism official, has now suggested using Shi Cheng as a destination for diving clubs.

A team was dispatched to explore the city before tours are designed.

Qui said: ‘We were lucky. As soon as we dived into the lake, we found the outside wall of the town and even picked up a brick to prove it.’

Protected from wind, rain, and sun, the entire city has been branded a ‘time capsule’ as almost every structure remains completely intact, including wooden beams and stairs.


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