The Amazing Sunken Cities Of The Ancient World

Published August 2, 2011
Updated January 22, 2024

Port Royal, Jamaica

Port Royal

ImgurThe remains of Port Royal, one of the most notorious sunken cities.

Once referred to as the “Wickedest City on Earth”, part of Port Royal sank after an earthquake in 1692. The ruins scattered in the Kingston Harbor, and currently, the remains of the city encompass 13 acres at depths of up to 40 feet.

Port Royal was famous around the world as a hub of piracy, prostitution, and rum. It was a place run by pirates; in 1675, the city named a deadly buccaneer called Henry Morgan their Lieutenant Governor, giving him a deadly reign over the wickedest city on earth.

Sunken City In Jamaica

ImgurThe great, underwater roads of Port Royal.

Few tears were shed when, on June 7, 1962, a massive earthquake rocked the island, pulling its building down into the earth. Tsunamis waves crashed against the shore almost immediately after, pulling the shattered ruins of the city into the water.

By the time it was over, 33 acres of the city had been submerged into the sea and 2,000 people had died.

At the time, the destruction of Port Royal was seen as a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah: a city of sin justly destroyed. The stories written didn’t mourn their deaths; instead, they wrote that “your heart would abhor to hear of the depredations, robberies and violences” that ensued in the chaos of the city’s destruction.

But since 1981, the sunken city has been become an archaeologist site, with investigations led by the Nautical Archaeology Program of Texas A&M University.

Port Royal has become a treasure trove of history; a place where historical documents, organic artifacts and a vast amount of architectural debris have been discovered, submerged in a city under the sea.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.