10 Drowned Towns You Can Visit [5. Potosi, Venezuela]

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cebd0a353c3f7656bb3f0fc5150f772137655cf9Photo by YAY Media AS / Alamy. Design by Erik Mace for Yahoo Travel

By Bess Lovejoy

There are so many places lost beneath the waves around the world, you could create an alternate atlas of watery wreckages. But during the 20th century, the number of towns underwater increased exponentially as hydroelectricity projects submerged some to create power for many. These drowned towns were intentionally flooded behind new dams, their buildings removed or dismantled, and their residents displaced.

In recent years, droughts have allowed some of these towns to re-emerge. Others remain underwater. Here are 10 haunting waterworlds.

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5. Potosi, Venezuela

1ad0021da5db0178b374a239401c848c4cf3cd34Photo:  Junctions, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In what remains of Potosi, Venezuela, the mildewed ruins of a gothic church sit alone in a giant field. At one point, the church was part of a vibrant Andean village with 1,200 inhabitants, but in 1985 the town was flooded when a nearby river was dammed to create a hydroelectric plant. For about 20 years, only the cross of the church’s steeple was visible above the waters, as if marking the grave of the entire city. In 2008 the waters of the reservoir began to recede due to a severe drought linked to El Niño. By 2010 the church had been completely uncovered, joining the ruins of local houses, the town square, and a cemetery, all of which can now be seen.