Sunken Churches

The construction of dams in the 20th century led to the engulfment of entire villages all over Europe. In a few rare cases, their location can be guessed from their churches, parts of which remain above water, giving the strange sight of partially sunken churches.

Flickr/Sergiu Bacioiu

Geamăna Church, Romania

The church of Geamăna was built in the first half of the 18th century and is decorated with paintings inside. Today, only the church tower is visible. The village of Geamăna lies 100 metres below the surface of a lake which contains the highly toxic ore dumps of the copper mine of Roșia Poieni, active since 1977.

Geamăna Church

Normanton Church, United Kingdom

St. Matthew's Church is a classicist church from the early 19th century. In 1970, the church had to be demolished as part of the construction of the nearby reservoir, since its floor was below the proposed water level. Following public protest, the lower half was filled with stones and rubble, and a concrete cover was built just below the level of the windows. An embankment was built around the church, giving it a prominent place at the water's edge. The structure once housed a museum of the history of Rutland Water.

Normanton Church
Wikimedia Commons/Ivan Hadji

St. Ivan Rilski Church, Bulgaria

St. Ivan Rilski church, also called the sunken church, dates from the end of the 19th century. In the 1960s, when it was learned that the village would be submerged by the construction of the Zhrebchevo dam, the inhabitants took out the icons and church utensils and took them to the church in the town of Gurkovo. The authorities at the time allegedly asked the church’s priest for permission to destroy it, but he refused.

St. Ivan Rilski Church
Flickr/Josep Enric

Church of Sant Romà, Spain

The Church of Sant Romà is a Lombard Romanesque building that was consecrated in 1062. It was seriously affected by an earthquake in the 15th century and was later renovated and enlarged. Since the construction of the Sau reservoir in the 1960s, it has been submerged underwater with the rest of the village, but in times of drought, it can be accessed.

Church of Sant Romà
Wikimedia Commons/Daniela Stefanoska

Mavrovo Church, North-Macedonia

The church "St. Nicholas Summer" is a neoclassical style church in the village of Mavrovo. The church was built by the master builders of the Debar school in 1850. The icons of the throne were painted in 1855 by the famous master of Debar, Dicho Zograf. The church was sunk under Lake Mavrovo in 1953, but by the beginning of the 21st century, it had largely emerged out of the water due to droughts. In the mid-1990s, construction of a new St. Nicholas church in Mavrovo began and was completed in 2006.

Mavrovo Church

Graun Church, Italy

From the church of Graun, built in 1355, only the Romanesque tower remains. The village was sunk in 1950 to create a reservoir. The tower, now a historical monument, is called "Kirchturm im Reschensee" in German, and "Campanile nel Lago di Resia" in Italian. The monument has become a tourist site, attracting many people to the shores of the lake and presenting one of the last Netflix horror shows: Curon.

Graun Church