The City at the Bottom of a Lake


A town in the middle of a lake? No, not on an island, but actually below water level.

The ancient city of Seuthopolis in Bulgaria was discovered and explored between 1948 and 1954 during the construction of the Koprinca dam. Unfortunately, after the dam was filled with water the first and the best preserved Thracian city in modern Bulgaria remained on the bottom of the artificial lake. The good news it is being unearthed via the most insane architectural project ever.

Seuthopolis, the city of the Thracian king Seuthes the 3rd, and the capital of the ancient state of Odrissia, (end of IV c. BC.) is being taken back from the water via the construction of a huge circular dike that’ll be a whopping 1,377 feet in diameter and 65 feet high. According to the project website, the area inside the dike will resemble a well, with the historical epic of Seuthopolis presented at the bottom, as on a stage.

Approaching the surrounding ring by boat from the shore, Seuthopolis is completely hidden for the eye. Arriving at the wall, however, a breathtaking view awaits the visitor – with its scale, comprehensiveness and unique point of view; from the boundary between past and present. The possibility to see the city from the height of 20 meters allows the perception of its entirety – an exceptional opportunity for excavations of such a scale. The movement with the panoramic elevators providing access to the ground level further enriches this impression.

The landscaped terraces convert the wall into a park with hanging gardens, places for recreation, flower parterres, open-air exhibitions. Indeed, the focus isn’t on archeology here, but rather on tourism, with Bulgaria looking to create a striking image that draws people in. And really, could anything make a town more striking than have it sit on the bottom of a lake? Cool stuff and great idea.

A cross-sectional image of what the proposed Seuthopolis site will look like. Source: Seuthopolis Project
An aerial view of how Seuthopolis would fit inside an artificial bottom island walling it off from the waters of the Koprinka Reservoir. Source: Seuthopolis Project

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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