The legend of the sunken city of Atlantis is familiar to people around the world thanks to books and films. However, a real ancient city submerged in the waters exists in China. Known as the 'Atlantis of China,' the place is largely preserved intact even after centuries.
Situated at the bottom of a man-made reservoir, the 'Lion City' is also one among the few submerged empires in the world. Lion City, whose real name is Shi Cheng city, was an empire during the years AD 25-200. It, in fact, remained as one of the most powerful cities in China for several centuries.
Lion City sits at the bottom of the reservoir close to the Qiandao Lake near the picturesque Wu Shi Mountain. It has remained under water for over 50 years but is still well preserved. In 2014, after the authorities realized that the city was intact below water, they allowed tourists to visit the area by diving. Visitors can relish the 1,400-year-old architectural wonders at the diving site. However, only expert divers are allowed.
Dam project and history
The ancient Lion City was deliberately submerged by the Chinese government to implement the Xin'an hydroelectric and river dam project in 1959. At present, Lion City stands 40 metres below the surface of the Qiandao Lake.
Much of the architectural marvels in the submerged city date to the sixteenth century AD. In fact, it is considered one of the gems of Chinese architecture. Shi Cheng in Mandarin translates as Lion City and it was once the main political and commercial centre of Zhejiang province. The province also had the most number of islands in China.
The city achieved the zenith of its glory from 1368-1644 when the Ming dynasty ruled China. The existing walls of the city date to the sixteenth century. Among the notable landmarks are wide streets and 265 archways.
There are five entry gates with towers for Lion City which have an area of 62 football fields. Moreover, six main streets paved with stones connect all parts of the entire township.