Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’

Lion City, lost underwater Shi Cheng, dubbed China's Atlantis rediscovered

More than half a century ago, the Chinese flooded Lion City, also called Shi Cheng. Recently Shi Cheng was explored by archaeologists who dubbed ‘Lion City’ as China’s ‘Atlantis rediscovered.’ Photo #1 by Chinese National Geography via Cheer All

Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) in China hides a lost underwater city

Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Lake) is a gorgeous man-made lake located in Zhejiang, China. Photo #2 by trasyy

The valley was flooded in 1959 to create the lake for the Xin'an River Dam project. This is Xinanjiang Hydroelectric Station

The valley was flooded in 1959 to create the lake for the Xin’an River Dam project. This is Xinanjiang Hydroelectric Station. Photo #3 by Dragon Moon Bay Hotel

Submerged Shi cheng, underwater exploration of lost ancient Lion City

The first underwater exploration attempt of the drowned city was in 2001 when it was discovered there were 265 arches in the preserved ruins. Lion City is about the size of 62 football fields. Photo (Drawing) #4 by Chinese National Geography

Diving in China, Qiandao Lake, posted in 2009. Video #1 by Lukas H

Underwater film crew explored Qiandao Lake and the ancient Lion City that was sunk half a century ago to build the Xin’an Jiang hydropower station

According to Our World, “It was decided to make an underwater city accessible to tourists. Special submarine height of 3.8 meters and a length of 23 meters with a capacity of 48 passengers, was built over six million U.S. dollars to bring everyone in the underwater kingdom.” The proof-of-concept archimedes bridge, a submerged floating tunnel, was not finished and was “banned” to avoid damaging the “delicate undersea structures.” This image was captured in January 2011 as an underwater film crew tagged along with archaeologists to explore Qiandao Lake and the ancient Lion City. Photo #5 by Chinese National Geography via Animal World

Aerial shot of Thousand Island Lake in China, underneath is the Lost Lion City

This aerial shot of Thousand Island Lake is interesting, but even more interesting is what lies underneath in the Lost Lion City. Photo #6 by fotki

Rediscovering ancient city, China's Atlantis beneath Qiandao Lake

According to National Geography, as the dive depth increased beneath Qiandao Lake, ever darkening, it was almost all black by 28 meters underwater. The diving lights gave only about two meters of visibility and the submerged city is at a depth of 26-40 meters (85 – 131 feet). But they found out that even wooden beams and stairs were intact. Photo #7 by Our World

Intricate carvings engraved on buildings as seen when a group of Chinese archaeologists rediscovered the the underwater Shi cheng City

Intricate carvings engraved on buildings as seen when Chinese National Geography released images taken by archaeologists/divers rediscovering the the underwater ‘lost’ city. Photo #8 by Chinese National Geography

Chain of islands in man-made Qiandao Lake, China

There is a chain of over 1,078 man-made large islands and a few thousand smaller ones at Qiandao Lake. Photo #9 by Oksana Lyutova

Restoration picture of Shicheng city in east China's Zhejiang Province, the drowned Lion City since 1959

According to Chinese National Geography, “This is a restoration picture of Shicheng city in east China’s Zhejiang Province. The city has been submerged under Qiandao Lake since 1959 and the construction of the Xin’an River Hydropower Station.” Photo #10 by Chinese National Geography

Massive amount of fish on Yule Bridge on 1 of the Thousand Lakes Islands (Qiandao Lake)

Massive amount of fish on Yule Bridge, as seen while crossing one of the Thousand Lake Islands. Photo #11 by lenhz

Lovers Island in man-made Qiandao Lake

This is called ‘Lovers Island.’ Photo #12 by Dragon Moon Bay Hotel

Carp jumping wildly, fishing in China near where Atlantis was rediscovered

Carp jumping wildly, fishing in China near where “Atlantis” was “rediscovered.” Photo #13 by prikol

International archeologists said the submerged Lion City was an underwater 'time capsule'

International archeologists said Lion City was an underwater ‘time capsule’. Wikipedia states, “At the foot of the Wu Shi mountain (Five Lion Mountain) lays an ancient city known as Shi Cheng (Lions City), built in Dong Han period (25 – 200), first was set up as county in 208, it was named ‘Lion City’ because of the Five Lion Mountain that sits just behind the city. The city remains undisturbed from the surface at a depth of 26-40m, Big Blue dive operator based in Shanghai, runs weekend trips twice a month throughout the year to the city and has started to uncover parts of the lost city.” Photo #14 by Chinese National Geography via1-4all

Ancient city in 2008, Shi Cheng underneath Qiandao (Thousand Island) Lake

This was the ancient city in 2008. Photo #15 by Nihaopaul

Lost Lion city, China's Atlantis, as was seen in February 2012

Lion City had five city gates, each with a tower. Before it was buried beneath the water, Shicheng City had six main stone streets that were used to connect every corner of the city. Photo #16 by Chinese National Geography via 1-4all

Qiandao Hu fishing village as seen while touring Thousand Island Lake

Qiandao Hu fishing village as seen while touring Thousand Island Lake. Photo #17 by le niners

Cable cars over lush forests, another mode of transportation on Qiandaohu

Cable cars over lush forests, another mode of transportation on Qiandaohu. Photo #18 by Daniel Hjort

Autumn at Qiandao Lake

Autumn at Qiandao Lake. Photo #19 by Patrick He

Thousand Island Lake is a tourist hotspot with 'theme' islands including Bird Island, Snake Island, Monkey Island, Lock Island and Island to Remind You of Your Childhood

Deep beneath Thousand Island Lake used to be a political and economic hub of the region. Photo #20 by trasyy

Along Qiandao Lake

Before Shi Cheng was submerged, 290,000 people had to be relocated from a city where their ancestors had lived in for over 1,300 years. Photo #21 by Daniel Hjort

Video: CCTV Travels Underwater to Ancient City. Video #2 by CNTV

Sunset over the Thousand Island Lake

Sunset over the Thousand Island Lake. Photo #22 by Dale Ellerm

Aerial shot of China's Quiando Lake

Aerial shot of Quiando Lake. This is a tourist hotspot with ‘theme’ islands including Bird Island, Snake Island, Monkey Island, Lock Island and Island to Remind You of Your Childhood. Photo #23 by Our Planet


40 thoughts on “Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’

  1. Geri bildirim: Reshared post from Dragon Pak » Rage on Omnipotent

  2. Geri bildirim: The NEW Hollow Earth Insider » Lost Underwater Lion City: Rediscovery of China’s ‘Atlantis’ (w/video)

    • Thank you so much these series of Lion city are not only interesting from all points of view but amazingly impressive,the beauty of it through the years is unbelievable! I really enjoy this kind of emails please send more pictures.

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  4. Geri bildirim: La Città del Leone: la misteriosa Atlantide cinese | Gdr Italia

  5. It has only been underwater since mid 1950’s, although the article states that the city was founded 1300 years ago. This IS a historic site. Lee, this is not ‘too new’ to appreciate. What beautiful carvings and I bet a history to match!

  6. What Cb mentioned was that the Qiandao City was built around 1300 years ago, but was submerged for the hydro-electric development since the 1950’s.

  7. It shows zero respect for one’s own heritage. Flooding an ancient city is a dumb idea. I’m pretty sure they could have either moved it or built the dam upstream. But hey it’s not the party’s history.

  8. SOOO AMAZING… What A pity I have not seen that during my stay in Beijing in 1978 to 1981…
    why have they not promoted this Beautiful phenomenal Scenic beauty of CHINA when I lived there…???!
    Hmmmmmmmmm More to discover about China!

    • @Marlyn Kragh. Thanks for your fake comment. What’s your Chinese name? It’s evident from your writing that you, Ranjan Singh, and Eleanor Emilio are not real people. These are probably party members making sure everything in China looks like a good idea.

      Let’s face it, submerging ruins is a dumb idea. You can talk about development all you want but one thing developed countries know is how not to do it at the cost of losing their identity.

      • she said she lived there for a few years,,never said she was chinese,,you must have air between your ears,,,,if you cant be nice–be nothing—

      • It appears dumb, and in many senses it was dumb to submerge a city. But in 1959 China was under the Communist rule, and under the tyrannical leaders of the time, they did not appreciate their heritage, and their slogan was then “out with the old, in with the new”. But there was a call for that, because in many quarters, a lot of Chinese elite were riding on old policies, collecting art and had ‘refined’ and wasteful lifestyles while the mass proletariat suffered. Hence when the “out with the old, in with the new” policy came in, it was welcomed by the masses as they were hungry, and such beauty in architecture do not feed them, or bring them modern conveniences. Such heritage and art had become a symbol that robbed them of their basic survival needs hence they had no sentiment to attempt to keep them. To others, they find it too commonplace (for them at least) that they do not treasure them.
        I can think of many examples elsewhere when heritage buildings were destroyed, just for contemporary architects to leave their mark, creating monstrosities that one get sick of looking at just after a year. That I feel is a more heinous act. Many developed countries are guilty of this, just that it is not publicised.
        One needs to understand the history – and not make sweeping generalisations. There are some Chinese who realised what a mistake it was, and instead of blaming, they are trying to salvage it the best way they can, so please show some respect for them.

  9. It’s awesome and was a treat to eyes.. as stated above it is obviously a time capsule that will be of great help for the archaeologists and historians in far future. I an Ranjan from India.

  10. I think if the clouds in the picture are manufactured as well, man and what about the sun and I think I swallowed my tongue.

  11. China has so many historic sites, if we want to keep all of them, then it’s impossible that China can become a developed country.


  13. AD,

    If you know anything about China’s history of long periods of flood and drought, you would understand that to preserve life itself, some sacrifices have to be made such as dam over areas including historical sites. Just look at the number of historical sites submerged by the new Yangtse River Project.

    In the “developed” countries, you just DON’T HAVE anything of worth or historical interest to submerge. However, this does not preclude you from tearing down Roman walls to build cheap shelters or using some of the ancient temples in Egypt as dwellings whereby their cooking fumes completely blackened the roofs of said temples, and such like. So there you are.

    If China was to blindly follow the “Developed Countries”, they would be like the West now, broke and need bailing out every other week.

    • Thanks to that dam, China has nothing of historical worth anymore. Everything in the name of the mighty war machine the party intends to use against the Free World. A weak attempt at “submerging” the ideas and dreams of free peoples everywhere.

      • AD,

        China has plenty of historical sites, relics and more despite the damming of
        the River. How you link that with “war machines etc” is difficult to fathom.

        Anyway, save up and come over to visit and see for yourself. Even with your negative attitude towards this country, you would still be welcomed.

      • My comments are linked to comments made by party members such as yourself who use Anglo names in an attempt to create favourable illusions through the point of view of a non-Chinese. If China decides to become a free country in my lifetime I will visit her. Until the government stops going after artists and students I will keep a safe distance from such a place. I think Japan or Australia would be better places to visit.

      • AD,

        Initially I thought your dislike of China was due to distrust but I can see now that you are paranoid about this country. In the course of your comments, you have insulted everyone who doesn’t share your viewpoint by calling them non-people or imitators etc., or party-members. I myself don’t see any need to prove anything to you. Let the facts speak for itself. But perhaps you are already in an advanced state of being brainwashed that you would not let the facts get in the way of good anti-China propaganda.

        You claim that China wants to submerge ideas and dreams of free people everywhere. Let me say this. If you believe, whoever and wherever you are, that you are free, then you are sadly mistaken. However one thing is for certain, you are certainly not free to walk all over China as you and your kind did in the past. Ask yourself, has China ever invaded your country or did your country invaded China in the past. Domestically, certain sectors of the country are paranoid like you for enemies from within and the country is not unaware of the rest of the world thinks. However, when was the last time that China commented unfavourably about what your country did to your own people?

        Have no fear, China does not want to control suppress or in anyway harm you. In fact, China just want to trade with you or sell you inexpensive goods as opposed to cheap goods, because let’s admit it, that’s all you can afford these days and probably even have to pay for same on credit.

        Finally, if you hate the country so much, what made you tune in to view the submerged city in the first place? Not that you don’t have a right to, of course. So do some research, read more and let’s learn to debate without getting too personal with everyone.

      • I am not born in China. My forefathers migrated to eke out a living elsewhere and when China became Communist, they did not go back. I was raised in a so called democratic country that was very fearful of the Communist threat, hence I grew up indoctrinated with anti-Chinese and anti-Communistic teachings. Yet when I grew older and read more about that period of Chinese history, I began to understand more. I learnt not to judge when decisions and choices do not fit my own set of values, as I then realise that we do not choose our country of birth, and often we do not choose where grow up, and for a lot of us as adults, we do not have a choice as to which country we choose to live in. And our values and viewpoints are affected by what is around us.
        Even in a very liberal country, the liberalism has resulted in undesirable elements as well. Before throwing stones, one should look closely at one’s own house. If one looks hard enough, one will realise that it is made of glass.

      • Mighty war machine to use against the Free World???
        Are you smoking something??
        I’d rather a Chinese Empire than an American, anyday.
        One seeks to grow by trade, the other to grow by death and theft.

    • australia is not broke,,and the history is mostly natural wonders,,not made by men,,
      but i marvel at what the chinese have achieved and taught the world over hundreds of centuries,
      but please dont include the antipodes with the northern western world,,,we are very different,,come visit,,

  14. Beautiful. Fantastic.
    Perhaps those days China did not have the resources, otherwise the City could have been lifted out before flooding the area.

  15. I hope the beautiful senses of tranditional cultures ( the life philosophy
    ~ arts cultures, including architectures, chinese calligraphy, paintings, any carvings … etc. )of China can be viewed and learnt again over the world.
    The 5,000 years of human history has her deep foundation of cultures, those are the incredible treasures of the human world …

  16. I can’t wait to see the video. I’m curious, all those man made islands, they kind of look like Chinese text (from aerial view) or symbols, has anyone gave them a serious look?

  17. Beautiful pictures of ancient preserved city.
    There is no need to post negative comments.
    To criticize is easy but to move forward from the ruins of civil wars & wars of invasions,
    centuries of stagnant advancement, is a very different story.
    Right or wrong, every country made deccisions to suit and learn from past inconveniences

    • Beautiful pictures have nothing to do with a totalitarian regimes ill-conceived notions of what is necessary and at what costs it should be done. No participation of the people and corruption throughout the system. They build new cities that go abandoned or topple over from poor construction. They lock their workers into long work hours and inhouse dormitories. I understand how one group can enslave another for being different. But only China has been able to enslave their own for being the same. Run them over with tanks for wanting to be free. No innovation. No creativity past what has already been done. And a desire to bury their heritage under a lot of water. You won’t be able to defend China until she is truly free. China isn’t free.

  18. Wow, Oh, Wow – forget the political jabber – – – appreciate the absolutely fantastic amazing photos, videos of the Lost Underwater Lion City. I would truly enjoy seeing the television broadcast of the exploration of this ancient city, lisiten to the experiences of the divers, learn more about Lion City’s history, especially why it was decided to have five gates instead of the customery four; and certainly there must be a unique story behind the name of Lion Mountain! Certainly the country’s decision to flood Lion City was most difficult. Thank you for introducing me to this unique historical site, and look forward to many more photos and video of Lion City – – – hopefully a video of the television broadcast. Thank you and enjoy life to it’s fullest. js

  19. Simply amazing. Pictures are so clear, of this wll preserved site. Plan to visit it sometime soon. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Simply A M A Z I N G . It’s a pity that such beautiful, ancient, historical entire city to be flood for the modern needs of electricity. I had never heard about this wonderful site. It is difficult to understand that such historical entire city had to disappear and that nowadays so many attention is given to higher, bigger, larger sky-scrapers or bridges… I only can regret such things happen without the world knowing about it. It is a great luck that one now can see those lost beauties thanks to modern diving technics.

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