Unearthing ‘Shi Cheng’: The Ancient Underwater City Of China

Last updated: Oct 04, 2023

There is a secret hidden beneath the glistening surface of Qiandao Lake in China’s mesmerizing Zhejiang Province—this gem is none other than the mysterious and ancient city, Shī Chéng.

Shī Chéng used to be a thriving hub of civilization. However, its fate took an unexpected turn in 1959, when the Chinese government, driven by industrialization ambitions, made a daring decision. Let’s discover more about this amazing city!

The Ancient City of Shī Chéng

Shī Chéng, aka 狮城 or Lion City, got its name from the nearby Wu Shi Mountain. The city was filled with life for centuries, a testament to human civilization.

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Many believe that Shī Chéng emerged about 1,400 years ago in 621 AD during the Tang Dynasty. History shows that it spans an area possibly larger than 60 football fields.

The Unique Attributes of Shī Chéng

Shī Chéng holds more surprises than anyone can imagine and defies conventions with its unique layout. This extraordinary city boasts five magnificent entrance gates and towers, exceeding the typical four gates and towers of other cities.

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Shī Chéng stones whisper tales of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The city’s architectural prowess mesmerizes, with 265 majestic arches adorning its streets, and the fortifying city walls evoke the indomitable spirit of the 16th century.

The End of an Era

Yet, the city’s story took an unexpected turn—the Chinese government had other plans in mind for the area. The government flooded the city to make way for a hydroelectric dam. This decision forced the government to find new homes for Shī Chéng residents.

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But fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. In 2001, upon rediscovering the lost metropolis, the Chinese government devised a plan for an expedition aimed at exploring its remains.

Exploring Shī Chéng

Shī Chéng, despite its subaquatic location, has managed to retain a remarkable state of preservation. Curiosity among the public and researchers was fueled by the release of photographs and illustrations by the Chinese National Geography in 2011. 

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The water effectively shields the metropolis from the detrimental effects of wind, rain, and sun erosion. Today, Shī Chéng’s submerged ruins have become a magnet for curious souls, enchanting underwater tourists, and diving experts alike.