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Underwater Museum Where You Can Swim Through Ancient Shipwreck Opens In Greece

by : Lucy Connolly on : 02 Aug 2020 17:50
Underwater Museum Where You Can Swim Through Ancient Shipwreck Opens In Greecegrecia_vita_mia/alfa_collection_alonissos/Instagram

You know that feeling you get when you’re strolling through a random museum and would rather be literally anywhere else? What’s the word I’m looking for? Ah yes, boredom.

Well, that’s certainly not a word that can be associated with a new underwater museum in Greece, in which visitors can swim through a historically significant shipwreck off the coast of the Aegean island of Alonissos.

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That’s right folks, you’ll be able to swim right past the famous Peristera shipwreck, which boasts a trove of fifth-century BC amphorae (tall ancient Greek jars or jugs). And it looks absolutely incredible.

Culture minister Lina Mendoni attended the ceremony on Saturday, August 1, along with other officials in preparation for the site’s opening on Monday, August 3.

The site of the wreck will be open from tomorrow until October 2 for certified amateur divers, who will have to follow a guide. Not to worry if you can’t dive though, as you’ll be able to follow a virtual reality tour at an information centre in the main town of Alonissos.

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‘This wreck lies at 21-28 metres depth near the shores of the Peristera islet and contains 3,000 to 4,000 amphorae,’ Maria Agalou, president of the municipal council of Alonissos, told Skai TV, as per The Guardian.

The wreck has sat in that part of the ocean since around 425 BC, when the large merchant ship is believed to have sunk because of bad weather. It was carrying thousands of amphorae of wine from Chalkidiki in northern Greece and the island of Skopelos, Pari Kalamara.

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The trove of two-handled vases is believed to be one of the most important of its kind because most of them are intact, with the containers being found by a fisherman in 1985.

Since it was discovered almost four decades ago, the shipwreck was closed to the public, with only scientists and researchers allowed to explore its watery depths. However, for the next two months recreational divers will be able to dive to their hearts’ content – well, up to 28 meters (92 feet) anyway – to see the site.

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Greece is opening its first underwater museum in Alonissos! The ancient shipwreck near the western rocky shore of Peristera came to light in 1985, when it was discovered by a local fisherman at a depth of 28 meters. What emerged was a large merchant ship, possibly from Athens which sank there around 425 BC. It was loaded with thousands of wine amphorae from Mendi (ancient city of Halkidiki) and Peparithos (today’s Skopelos), areas known in antiquity for their wine. The shipwreck is one of the most important of classical antiquity. The substantial number of amphorae, the excellent condition of the shipwreck at a depth 21-28 metres and the beauty of the exotic waters are more than enough reasons to experience it. The whole region is situated within the protected area of the National Marine Park of Alonissos – Northern Sporades. Access to the mysterious world at the Aegean seabed, however, is not only for the diving aficionados, but for all visitors to Alonissos, as they will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique spectacle of the shipwreck, without even getting wet. In the enchanting alleys of Alonissos Town, the Centre for Public Information and Awareness will welcome you, with all the information about the history of ancient shipwrecks and the ability to dive virtually to the bottom and navigate shipwrecks as a true diver, with technological applications of augmented reality. credits @protothema.gr

A post shared by @ alfa_collection_alonissos on

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Not only that, but there are rumours the site could be reopening to the public again in the summer of 2021, so if you don’t get the chance to visit this year for whatever reason (cough, corona, cough) there’s always next summer.

Divers will be able to visit the site from Monday, August 3 to Thursday, October 2.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Life, Greece, Museum, Now, Travel

Credits

The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    'Parthenon of shipwrecks': Greece opens its first underwater museum