Sant Roma de Sau in Osona, Catalonia, is the oldest submerged church in the world

Sant Roma de Sau in Osona, Catalonia, is the oldest submerged church in the world. image: commons wikimedia

THE CHURCH of Sant Roma de Sau in the Catalonian municipality of Osona is the world’s oldest, and deepest, submerged church in the world

The church of Sant Roma de Sau, which is located in the Catalonian municipality of Osona, and built in 1061, has been confirmed as the oldest church in the world to be standing submerged underwater, as well as being the deepest underwater, with 23 metres of its body being underneath the water, depending on the time of the year, sometimes the entire church is visible.

This statistic was corroborated by a study carried out by the Official World Record entity, in collaboration with the Grup de Recerca de Didactica del Patrimoni of the University of Barcelona.

After the Sau reservoir was formed in 1962, this Lombard Romanesque style place of worship became submerged, with its iconic bell tower, which is never completely underwater, has become a symbol, and a point of tourist attraction.

One year ago, the non-profit organization Official World Record – which is dedicated to recording world records – began an investigation into the church of Sant Roma de Sau, “We wondered how many Romanesque hermitages could exist under the water, but then we extended it to all the churches, and it was at that moment when we saw that we were facing a unique situation in the whole world and that no one had verified it until now”, explained OWR president, David Ventura.

Last summer, Ventura himself arranged a dive to measure the actual depth of the Sant Roma de Sau, and he found it to be 23 metres deep, saying, “The swamp has very greenish water, and after more than a metre you can no longer see anything, it turns black”, telling how he swam in through a door and out through a window, and found the building to be very well preserved.

History shows that the old town of Sau originated in 917 and the parish church was consecrated in 1062, only to be submerged 900 years later when the reservoir was made, and the Natural Parks Network of the Diputacion de Barcelona are very strict in telling visitors, for reasons of security and conservation of heritage, not to climb the church belltower which is always showing above the water, as reported by


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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