Drought Reveals 400-Year-Old Treasure Hidden Underwater

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Credit: AP/David von Blohn

Credit: AP/David von Blohn

While adventurers and archeologists have fantasized for ages about finding the fabled City of Atlantis, wouldn’t it be nice for once if the lost gems of the Earth just exposed themselves without us having to look?

That’s the exact feeling that residents and tourists of Chiapas, Mexico have right now. A drought has unveiled a 16th century temple in the middle of the Nezahualcoyoti dam reservoir.

The Temple of Santiago, also known as Iglesia de Quechula, was built in the mid-1500s by Friar Bartolome de la Casas and his monks. At it’s highest point—the bell tower—the temple is nearly 53 feet tall. Water levels in the reservoir have dropped almost 86 feet during the drought, making the structure fully visible for the first time in years.

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Credit: Instagram @exploringchiapas

Credit: Instagram @exploringchiapas

The temple was abandoned sometime between 1773-1776 due to severe plague outbreaks in the area, but this isn’t the first time the ruins have been visible in recent years. The church was originally flooded in 1966 when the dam was completed. Most recently, an even more severe 2002 drought revealed the temple, attracting hundreds.

While visitors still need to be ferried to and from the church, it hasn’t stopped them from climbing inside the temple. Leonel Mendoza, a local fisherman who spoke to the Associated Press, said that the tourists are mostly being respectful of the abandoned house of worship:

“The people celebrated. They came to eat, to hang out, to do business. I sold them fried fish. They did processions around the church.”

Check out this video to learn more:

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