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Greece Opens First Underwater Museum–A 2,400-Year-old Shipwreck in the Middle of Lively Coral Meadows


Greece’s first underwater museum allows visitors to immerse themselves in time to the Peloponnesian War era while gazing at ancient shipwrecks and pristine coral gardens.

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By diving to depths of 80 feet, guides can show visitors the 90-foot-long Peristera shipwreck, where it sank 2,400 years ago while carrying a cargo of wine and black-enameled clay tableware.

The Peristera Shipwreck Museum, named for a neighboring uninhabited islet along whose coast it was discovered, was opened to the public during a pilot period that just ended at the end of October. In total, more than 300 people arrived, including 250 visiting divers.

The optimistic opening, if COVID-19 allows it, will be June 2021. Experienced divers can go with a guide, while non-divers can take a class at nearby accredited dive centers.

Located in the Alonissos and Northern Sporades National Marine Park, the first Marine Protected Area established in Greece and the largest in Europe, divers will also have the opportunity to come face to face with more than 300 species of fish, Mediterranean monk seals and beautiful coral beds.

For those who do not intend to dive, five underwater cameras can show visitors a glance of what’s under the waves, including one that’s broadcast live 24 hours.

A casualty of war

The wreck was likely Athenian and is believed to have sunk during the Peloponnesian War, a period after the golden age of Greek city-state civilization, when Sparta and Athens fought to the core.

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It was discovered in 1985 by a local fisherman, but it was not explored by archaeologist Elpida Hatzidaki and his colleagues until seven years later.

According According to National Geographic, the ship was larger than any merchant ship of the period (4th to 5th centuries BC), and its dimensions, 39-82 feet, are normally assumed to have been achieved during Roman times.

Its archaeologically significant cargo of 4,000 clay amphoras, or two-handed clay jugs for wine, has remained intact after all these years, and visitor-divers can literally see how they were stacked on the boat.

Archaeologists who spoke with Nat Geo said that only a few burned woods remained from the hull, although the shape of the ship, much like a fossil, can be clearly seen based on the natural features that grew on its skeleton.

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Although few physical remains of the wreck can be found, local dive guide Kostas Efstathiou told the magazine that there has been interest from “all over the world” and that the panoramic view of the 4,000 amphoras surrounded by the outline of the place where the boat so many centuries, with seabed covered with coral around it, it is something “impressive”.

(CLOCK the YouTube video of divers exploring the wreck below).

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