Sunken temple in Mexico
Photo: David von Blohn/AP/Corbis

It sounds like something out of a gothic story or a fantasy novel, but it’s real: the ruins of a magnificent 16th-century temple have just emerged from the bottom of a Mexican river. Unfortunately, though, neither magic nor mysticism were responsible. It was drought.

In the southern Mexico state of Chiapas, the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir was first created in 1966 by the damming of the Grijalva river. Although the dam had positive impact on the region, it also had the unfortunate side effect of drowning the ruins of the Temple of Quechula, a 183-foot long, 42-foot wide, and 30-foot tall building. That’s pretty tall, but usually, it’s fully covered by the reservoir waters.

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