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A Look at Atlantis and Some Real Sunken Cities

illustration of sunken city
Atelier Sommerland/Shutterstock

Most people have heard of the lost city of Atlantis, even if only connected with fictional tales, but it’s not the only such place. While cities lost underwater sound like something from a Piers Anthony book, they are a reality.

A Look at the Lost City of Atlantis

Fact or fiction? It seems that the story of the Lost City of Atlantis began as fiction, but was it based on a real place? Fiction sometimes imitates reality or at least enhances things from real life to make them more interesting.

The origins of the city of Atlantis, a place often referred to as a beautiful utopia with technology beyond our own, comes from stories written by Plato, from what historians can find. Of course, the stories may have been based on a place that wasn’t fiction.

By taking a trek through the history of Atlantis, which has been done numerous places, including Wikipedia, you can see the fictional and factual sides of this mysterious city under the sea. Knowing that there are actual cities that have been buried in water makes one Atlantis could be real, or it could be one of many other sunken cities already discovered.

One of the strangest histories revolving around Atlantis possibly being real is that of the belief of Edgar Cayce, a clairvoyant who envisioned details about the story of Atlantis. Of course, he also predicted the mysterious city would rise again in the 60s.

Whether Plato only made the place up or Edgar Cayce really saw the place in his visions, no one may ever know. Until the city is found and something ties it to the name Atlantis, it remains a great location for stories of all kinds and keeps us interested in lost cities under the sea that have already been discovered.

If you don’t feel like reading the Wikipedia listing, here’s a video with much of the same information, including where there may be evidence to its actual existence:

Other Sunken Cities Around the World

There have been at least a couple of dozen real cities found underwater around the world. Here are a few of them.

Port Royal, Jamaica

Jamaica’s Port Royal, what’s left of it, sits as a ghost town after two earthquakes caused most of the city to be sunk into Kingston Harbor. The first disastrous earthquake was in 1692. A massive chunk of the northern part of the town fell into the water due to liquifying sand, and a tsunami followed the quake, causing even more damage. The city lost at least 33 acres of land, which is a miraculous underwater city where archeologists explore still today.

Of the 6000+ inhabitants, possibly 1000 to 3000 died in the quake, the following tsunami, or because of falling buildings. The town suffered another earthquake in 1907, which claimed more of the city to Kingston Harbor. “The City that Sank” leaves behind a few structures, including a leaning building. Movies have been filmed on the site, and it’s a bit of a tourist attraction.

Take a step into what is left of Port Royal and see some images of the treasure found underwater from the parts of the city that sunk to the bottom of the sea:

The City of Cambay, India

The city of Cambay was discovered in the waters of the Gulf of Khambhat (formerly the Gulf of Cambay) in 2000. They found city-like structures submerged in the water. The find is thought to be 9,500 years old, because of carbon dating on a piece of wood that was discovered in the sunken city.

They have discovered artifacts in the sunken city of Cambay. Still, because of the way the artifacts were collected, it’s difficult to tie them to the lost city itself and makes it difficult to date the city.

This video not only talks about the finding of this lost city but also about the risks of earthquakes and other natural disasters potentially causing more loss in this area:

Yonaguni-Jima, Japan

We’ve seen ancient pyramids in Egypt and South American, but can you believe there were once pyramids in Japan as well? When the lost city of Yonaguni-Jima was discovered off the coast of Taiwan in 1995, something unusual was found with the remains of the sunken city–a pyramid much like those built in ancient Mesopotamia.

Described by some as a Japanese Atlantis, Yonaguni-Jima is still a mystery to many. It’s believed to be over 10000 years old. And, much like most discoveries, many believe there’s not as much to it as some others believe. There is speculation that the towering pyramid under the sea was created naturally rather than being handmade.

The perfect angles, drilled holes, and smooth look of the “steps” of the pyramid are enough to convince many that the structure was built rather than created by the sea. You can decide for yourself after watching this video:

Shicheng, China

Sometimes “lost cities” found underwater aren’t mysteries at all. In fact, there are times when cities are purposely flooded, for one reason or another. China’s Lion City was one such place, now lying under the waters of Qiandao Lake.

The city was sunk in 1959 (so it’s not really an ancient discovery, but the city itself is ancient) to make room for new construction. The sunken city, pre-flooding, was 600 years old. It sat underwater, undisturbed until exploration began in 2001.

Here’s a video that takes you to the depths of this purposely sunken city:

Dunwich, England

While Dunwich once stood as one of the largest England towns, storms rocked the village in the 13th and 14th centuries. The storms ate away at the town’s shoreline, burying much of it in water. While there is still some town remaining, at least four churches, many houses, and a toll house have been discovered under the sea.

Unfortunately, the waters are dark where Dunwich sank, and it’s difficult for divers to get good pictures. But, you can still learn about this ancient town by watching this informational documentary, which talks about the parts of the city lost to the water and what’s left above ground.


Baiae, Italy

If you want to see the sites of a sunken city, Baiae offers you a great chance, with crystal clear water surrounding the city that has sat beneath the water for over 1700 years. It’s an underwater park filled with fantastic archaeology that even amateur divers will be thrilled to experience.

Baiae is located 10 miles west of Naples. Called a paradise, the city of wealth was overtaken by the Muslim army in the 8th century, leaving is desolate by the 1500s. As volcanic vents slowly caused the waters around the city to rise, it was swallowed into their depths.

Here’s a beautiful tour of this city underwater:

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »