Lonely Planet Writer

An underwater ancient city in Turkey may open up to diving for the first time in 30 years

A sunken city near the island of Kekova, near Antalya in Turkey, may open up to diving for the first time in 30 years. Diving at the ancient underground city has been banned since 1986 in order to preserve it, but with the cooperation of archaeologists and local experts, the ban could be partially overturned.

The island of Kekova in Turkey
Underwater city near Kekova may open up to divers soon. Photo by: Raimund Franken/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The ruins are along the northern shore of Kekova, partly submerged 6m below the sea and referred to as the Batık Şehir (Sunken City). The ruins are the result of a series of severe earthquakes in the 2nd century AD; most of what you can still see is a residential part of the ancient site of Simena. Foundations of buildings, staircases, moorings and smashed amphorae are visible. It is forbidden to anchor or swim around or near the sunken city, as well as dive.

Divers may soon beging to explore the sunken city of Kekova
Location of the sunken town off the Island of Kekova. Photo by: Raimund Franken/ullstein bild via Getty Images

“All Antalya’s coastlines are rich in terms of archaeology, not just Kekova,” Antalya’s mayor, Münir Karaloğlu, told Hürriyet Daily News. “Our efforts to diversify tourism alternatives have begun to bring results, and interest in diving tourism has increased. If permission is received from the ministries, diving tourism will be available with the help of guides and archaeologists in Kekova,” he added.

Given the difficulty of getting to the Kekova area by public transport, most people end up taking a boat tour from Kaş or Kalkan. At the moment the closest you can get to the Kekova sunken city ruins is on sea-kayaking tours run by Kaş operators. But if the ban is overturned, archaeology buffs and divers could find themselves able to get much nearer to the evocative remains.