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The "Lost City" Of The Cayman Islands

Oct 28, 2007
Everyone is familiar with the mythic city of Atlantis - the ancient Greek civilization that Plato famously claimed had succumbed to tragedy and came to rest at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. However, no one has ever seen an underwater city - until now. Thousands of miles from the classical civilizations in the warm waters of the Caribbean, a sculptor has been quietly constructing his own vision of Atlantis off the coast of Cayman Brac. Though the sculptor is only a few years into the massive project, the undertaking has already attracted the attention of scuba divers and thrill seekers from throughout the world.

The Cayman version of Atlantis is the brainchild of a somewhat mysterious local artist known only as Foots. Now in his 50s, Foots has stated that he has been obsessed with the myth of Atlantis since he was a small boy. Working almost entirely by himself, Foots has already completed a number of giant sculptures and laid the foundation for Atlantis. After completing the sculptures, Foots places his work on a naturally sandy stretch of the Caribbean's floor, always mindful of the delicate submarine ecosystem. Though there is much for divers to enjoy in this Caribbean Atlantis, Foots will continue working on this massive project indefinitely, adding new sculptures to the underwater city every six months. Most surprisingly, Foots has not made any drawings of his underwater project, choosing instead to work only from his imagination, allowing the city's plans to develop and change as the civilization grows.

The entrance to Cayman's Atlantis is marked by the giant Archway of Atlantis. With each of the bases weighing over ten tons, scuba divers will immediately find themselves in the midst of an awe-inspiring environment. The great archway opens onto what Foots has called The Elders' Way. At the end of this path lined with classical temple columns, the sculptor has placed stylized sculptures of human figures - known to the sculptor as "Prophets" - to watch over the underwater city. To insure that locals were able to get involved in the project, Foots modeled each one of these sculptures after individuals who have contributed to Cayman society. The figures of the prophets look out across a large courtyard on the seafloor known as the Inner Circle of Light. In Foots' version of the Atlantis myth, a young girl made sure that the torches atop the city's eleven columns were always lit and no shadows ever passed over the great sundial. Divers will find the sundial in the middle of the courtyard, protected by the city's great columns. At the center is a representation of the Circle of Light, the space where all time was said to be endless.

One of most important aspects of the underwater city is the care given to its location at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Though surrounded by dense coral reefs on all sides, the site for Atlantis was chosen because no coral needed to be removed to accommodate the sculptures. Furthermore, as the sculptures are made of simple concrete and won't harm any of the area's sea creatures, the city will always be able to support vibrant life. In fact, though the Cayman Atlantis is currently set on several acres of featureless sand, divers will notice that the city has already attracted a wide variety of residents. Everywhere you look in the underwater city, hard corals have begun branching out, sponges have found homes amongst the sculptures and numerous species of tropical fish swim through the city each day.

Resting at a shallow depth (only 40-50 feet), divers are guaranteed excellent visibility. Most of the Cayman Islands' dive operators visit this special site everyday. Unlike many of the Cayman Islands' popular wall dive sites, Atlantis is a great dive for all ages and skill levels. Thanks to the shallow overall depth and excellent underwater visibility, the site can also be enjoyed by snorkelers.

If you want to experience a dive site unlike any other in the world, be sure to make the short trip to Grand Cayman's sister island, Cayman Brac. Already the world's first underwater city and the largest collection of underwater sculpture, the Caymans' "Lost City" will continue developing and welcoming submarine life for years to come.
About the Author
This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about vacationing in the Caribbean for the Grand Cayman Islands.
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