10 Eerie Abandoned Cities You Can Visit

Shicheng, China
Under Qiandao Lake, in Zhejiang province, China, lies Schicheng, the lost "Atlantis of the East." Yaorusheng/Getty Images

For centuries, Shicheng was a bustling city in China's Zhejiang province, some 224 miles (360 kilometers) southwest of Shanghai. But in 1959, Chinese officials decided a dam and hydroelectric station needed to be built in that locale, so after relocating Shicheng's 300,000 residents, the city was flooded. And forgotten. Then, in 2001, a local tourism official proposed using the ancient city as a means of luring diving clubs. Interest in this "Atlantis of the East" quickly grew, increasing in 2011 when underwater photos of the city were published [sources: Galloway, White].

If you'd like to see Shicheng, tours are available between April and November, although you need to be a diver with deep-water, night and buoyancy experience. (Shicheng lies under roughly 100 feet [30 meters] of water.) Those who meet the criteria are in for a treat. The ancient city, which covers about 62 football fields, features ornate stonework of lions, sneering dragons and phoenixes dating from the Ming to the Qing dynasties (1368-1912). Its city walls, built around the 16th century, sport five entrance gates, not the traditional four. Amazingly, the city is quite well-preserved; wooden staircases and beams are intact, for example, along with intricate drawings. That's thanks to its watery grave, which protects it from the erosive powers of wind, rain and sun [sources: Galloway, White].

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