You Can Dive to Never-before-seen Ancient Shipwrecks in Greece
Travelers with a love for archeology will soon have an entire new world to explore under Greece’s waters, as some of the country’s most fascinating ancient shipwrecks will open to the public for the first time.
The first of the shipwrecks to open will be the Peristera shipwreck, which dates back to the 5th century B.C. and leaves remains of historic artifacts for divers to admire, including thousands of centuries-old containers believed to have been used to transport wine.
The shipwreck, located roughly 1.5 miles away from Alonissos island on the barren island of Peristera, is believed to have most likely been an Athenian cargo ship that sank to a depth of about 30 meters. It remains today the largest cargo ship of its time to have been found.
An excursion held last weekend was the first to showcase what awaits the public under the new plan run by the European Commission-funded BlueMed initiative.
“The goal is in the next two years to make the country’s shipwrecks visitable, but also to provide important information and raise awareness about underwater monuments,” Konstantinos Stratis, deputy minister of culture and sports, said at the event.
While the country is teeming with underwater artifacts and shipwrecks waiting to be discovered, many of them have remained closed to the public and have only been accessible to archeologists to ensure their protection. Scuba diving was banned through most of the country for several years until locations slowly began to open to divers starting in 2005.
With the new project, three additional shipwrecks in Greece will open to the public. There are also plans to open similar shipwrecks in Italy and Croatia, with a goal of having the sites open to recreational divers starting in early 2021, according to AP.
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"It was an amazing opportunity ... to dive at last on an ancient wreck," Kostas Menemenoglou, a 39-year-old recreational diver from Volos, told AP. "It's really like diving into history."
After exploring the shipwrecks, visitors can also spend time in the the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades to see the monk seals that call the area home or explore one of the many caves that await in Alonissos thanks to its rocky coastline and terrain.
While divers will be able to see the ships and their artifacts in large collections on seabeds, those who don’t want to get into the water will also be able to explore the historic finds through virtual reality experiences that will be set up on dry ground.