Tour an Ancient Basilica Hidden in a Lake in Turkey
Visitors to Turkey will soon have the chance to see a stunning underwater basilica in the country’s Bursa province.
The basilica, which was discovered about 65 feet (20 meters) offshore in Lake Iznik in 2014, dates back to the fifth century, and is believed to have been dedicated to Saint Neophytos. The Archaeological Institute of America named it one of the 10 most important discoveries that year.
Archaeologists and historians estimate that the basilica collapsed during an earthquake that hit the region in 740 A.D, leading to its submersion in the lake.
Earlier this year, the Bursa Metropolitan Municipality and Uludag’ University’s Department of Archeology announced that underwater renovations were taking place, and that the basilica would be opened to the public as an underwater museum.
The opening will allow visitors to go inside the basilica and learn of its fascinating history. Artifacts include mosaics, graves, and coins that date back thousands of years.
Mustafa Sahin, a professor in Uludağ University’s archaeology department, which is overseeing the excavations at the basilica, said the basilica will be open to the public on the first and third Saturdays of each month, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. Further updates to the schedule are coming soon.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.