Discover China’s Unbelievable Underwater City

1300 years ago, the ancient city of Shi Cheng was established in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The city was once known as the center of politics and economics, marveled for its unparalleled architecture. Now known as China’s real-life Atlantis, Shi Cheng is 26-40 meters underwater. The entire city was intentionally flooded in 1959 to create an artificial lake and hydroelectric power station for the Xin’an dam project. Despite being underwater for over 60 years, the city’s architecture has barely eroded. Want to find out more about this city? Discover the answers today.


The City of Shi Chen is entrenched at the foot of Wu Shi Mountain. Sleeping 40 meters under Qiandao Lake, the city was intentionally submerged underwater in 1959 to make way for Xin’an Dam and its adjoining hydroelectric station. Underwater divers and photographers have revealed how well Shi Chen has been preserved in the absence of wind, sun, and storms.

According to experts, the underwater city has 265 arches, a city gate tower, six stone roads, and endless ornate carvings. Referred to as a time capsule by international archaeologists, divers are working hard to bring tourists to this hidden gem soon. Deep under bluish-green water, Shi Chen’s grandeur temple, prominent lion statues and lavish arches could easily be mistaken for an imitation movie set.


  • 290,000 people had to relocate from their homes for the dam construction.
  • Shi Chen was once the political and economic hub for Eastern China.
  • Artificial lake Qiandao is also an important tourist destination.
  • Chinese National Geography published some of the first pictures ever seen of the underwater city.
  • Historical inscriptions discovered in the underwater city date back to 1777.
  • Shi Cheng was built during the Tang Dynasty in 621 AD. The city is now declared as a historic relic and is under Zhejiang province.
  • Advanced divers can get closer to the ruins with operators such as Big Blue and Zi Ao diving club.
  • Due to sediments rising from the river bed, most expeditions are done under zero visibility and special equipment is required to avoid accidents.
  • A project to build a submerged underwater tunnel had to be terminated as it would damage the ancient structures. · Unlike the fictional Atlantis mentioned by Plato in his works Timaeus and Critias, this place is surreal.

How to Reach Qiandao Lake

As a popular weekend getaway from Hangzhou, there are regular passenger trains starting from Hangzhou East Railway Station to Qiandao Lake Railway Station. The journey takes around one hour. From the railway station, there are numerous local buses that will take you to the dock.

Abandoned cities like this provide local communities an excellent tourism opportunity to bring in more revenue and job opportunities. As Shi Cheng attracts more tourism, we can remain hopeful that the city will continue to be well-preserved.

One Reply to “Discover China’s Unbelievable Underwater City”

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