11 Underwater City Names To Inspire Your World Building

Georgia Stone
Feb 16, 2024 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Dec 01, 2020
City under water -  global warming effect concept.
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Read time: 7.7 Min

From the sunken island of Atlantis to the incredible submerged city of Pavlopetri, our myths and legends are loaded with accounts of cities gulped up by the ocean. Each city represents a snapshot in time; in many cases almost untainted by the passage of time if not for a smattering of seaweed or two.

Some cities can even be visited with approved dive teams, so you can explore for yourself and imagine exactly what the place was like at the height of its excellence.

Through studying these submerged cities, we learn that in many cases, building a day-to-day existence on the coast can be a problematic endeavor. In other cases however, there seem to be more questions than answers, and we begin to wonder if there's perhaps some magic at play.

Real Underwater Cities And Their Names

Underwater background.

There are many sunken cities all over the world, most of which are underwater due to environmental disasters like earthquakes and landslides.

1. Baiae in Italy: Baiae was an ancient town in the region of Rome, Italy.

The town was known for its luxurious and elegant location near thermal springs. The town of Baiae was in an active volcanic region with beautiful hot springs, and the thermal springs were used as therapeutics in 176 BCE.

In literature, Baiae's hot springs were often portrayed as either natural heaven, or as a hub of evildoing. Many powerful figures such as Caesar and Nero visited this city and even built permanent vacation villas there.

Later, these hot springs became the reason for the town's extinction and turned it into ruins. It is believed that a bradyseismic event was responsible for the town's destruction.

A chamber of magma covered the town and its nearby regions resulting in the sinking of the above land. The city, at present, is half under the ocean and is half above the shore.

2. Pavlopetri, Greece: The lost underwater city of Pavlopetri, Greece is located on the southern coast of Laconia, where it is submerged multiple meters below the sea.

At around 5,000 years old it is one of the oldest submerged lost cities. The name 'Pavlopetri' literally translates to 'Paul's stone'.

Its ruins were discovered by the scientist Nicholas Flemming in 1967. Nicholas recognized about 15 houses, roads, 37 graves along with a piece of stoneware. In 1968, a team of archaeologists from Cambridge mapped Pavlopetri and found that it was well planned with modern urban city design including roads, gardens, and houses.

The city had a large open court in the center of its sunken ruins. The one-magnificent city of Pavlopetri, Greece is believed to have sunk around 1000 BCE as a result of an earthquake that shifted the Greek islands and altered the sea level.

3. Port Royal, Jamaica: Port Royal in Jamaica was considered to be on one of the most ideal routes for trade and exchange between the Caribbean and Britain.

The population of Port Royal, Jamaica increased at the end of the 1600s — by the end of the century, the population of just 740 inhabitants was raised to 7,000, out of which half were pirates.

The growth of bars and an ever-increasing partying population made turned the city of Port Royal, Jamaica into hub of debauchery and it became known as the 'wickedest city on Earth'. Not long after, the population of Port Royal was shocked by a brutal earthquake that took place on June 7, 1692.

This earthquake took the lives of 2,000 people, leaving 3,000 injured, and submerged 66% of the region's land.

The earthquake was later followed by a series of warehouse fires and hurricanes, damaging Port Royal to the point of no return. With special permission, you can visit the ruins of the sunken city via a diving experience.

4. Point Fermin, Los Angeles: Property owners during the 1920s went to see the newly made houses in San Pedro, a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Some of the houses were built on the edge of the Point Fermin cliff. The designer of the homes was not aware of the strength of the waves that loosened the soil under the houses when hit by the recurring powerful waves of the sea.

Residents noticed cracks appear in the ground and, after inspection, were advised to evacuate.

Most inhabitants were able to shift their houses from the location in time, but in in 1929 the cliff began to slide and eventually took two houses with it, tumbling into the sea. At present, the ruins are not accessible to the public, and we can only see the remnants of these houses from a distance.

Fictional Underwater City Names

Sea world under water background.

We know that space may be seen as our final frontier, but did you know that we know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean?


Lyonesse in the movie 'War-Gods of the Deep': 'War-Gods of the Deep' is an adventure and sci-fi film that depicts a storyline based on a submerged city off the coast of Cornwall named Lyonesse, which stretches from the western tip of Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. The name Lyonesse is inspired by a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

The story has Vincent Price as Captain Sir Hugh Tregathian, who has lived in Lyonesse with his team for years using the breathable oxygen-esque gas discharged by a nearby volcano to this city in the ocean.

6. Atlantis in the TV show 'Stargate Atlantis': Do you think you know your underwater city mythology?

'Stargate Atlantis' is a science-fiction film revolving around a submerged ancient metropolis named Atlantis, which was inspired by real literary accounts of the Lost City of Atlantis. In the show, a team of explorers takes the city along with them to the Pegasus galaxy.

7. Otoh Gunga in the movie 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace': The metropolis of Otoh Gunga in the science-fiction film 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' is found under the surface of Lake Paonga on the planet of Naboo.

It looks like a cluster of jewel-like air bubbles floating underwater, and each bubble is strong enough to keep the water out. Otoh Gunga's chief is a frog-like character, and the natives are known as Gungans.

8. Aphrodite in the book 'Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus': The book 'Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus' is written by Isaac Asimov. In the young adult fiction book, Isaac describes a fictional submerged city named Aphrodite, which is part of an organization of many domed areas under the Venusian oceans that lodges millions of people.

Ancient Underwater Cities

Over the years, a number of sunken cities have been discovered all over the world; some buried by the sea over a millennium ago, some more recently. From Ancient Egypt to India and China and beyond, so much history can be found beneath the ocean's surface.


Alexandria in Egypt: less than 20 meters beneath the surface, just off the coast of its modern-day namesake, lies the ancient city of Alexandria, home to Anthony and Cleopatra, the magnificent Alexandria Library and temples and palaces galore.

In its prime, Alexandria was one of the greatest cities on the planet, filled with the buzz of possibility and opulence.

But around 1,600 years ago, an earthquake shattered the city and, combined with corresponding tidal waves, much of the city sank underwater, where it lay untouched until its ruins were unearthed in the 1960s, providing historians with ancient artefacts in the form of statues, coins, and jewellery that led to better knowledge of the everyday lives of those who lived there.

10. Dwarka in India: According to Indian mythology and folklore stories, Dwarka is believed to be one of the oldest underwater cities of India and is heavily tied to Lord Krishna.

Lord Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism and is believed to have been born in Dwarka. According to the myth, the city was submerged after his death. Hence, this city is a pilgrimage center in India.

It was was considered a myth until the foundations and ruins of the ancient city were found 131 ft (40 m) underneath the Arabian Sea near the Gulf of Cambay. The ruins were found just below modern-day Dwarka, and the city's excellence has astonished archaeologists and experts alike.

11. Lion City, China: The Lion City in China is one of the most remarkable submerged ancient cities.

The construction of Lion City is believed to have taken place during the Tang Dynasty, so it is assumed that Lion City is around 1,400 years old.

A city underwater is nothing new, but unlike others, this sunken city was purposely submerged.

It is now covered by Qiandao Lake, a man-made lake created in 1959 as part of a project to build a dam for the surrounding valley.

The city is about the size of 62 football fields, and its ruins are impressive to behold even now, over 50 years since it was covered, and over a thousand years since it was initially built.

Experts have expressed concern that some modern-day coastal cities around the world may go underwater within the next 10-30 years. The cities facing this threat are Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Kolkata in India, Venice in Italy, and Bangkok in Thailand.

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Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

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Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

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