The first underwater museum in Greece, off Alonissos, is opening its aquatic gates. From Monday, August 3 to Friday, October 2, 2020, amateur scuba divers and free divers will be able to visit, accompanied by personnel from diving centers, the famous 5th century BC amphorae shipwreck on the seabed of the Peristera islet, Alonissos.
A fisherman was the first to see the ancient shipwreck in 1985 near Peristera’s western rocky shore at a depth of 28 meters: a large, possibly Athenian, merchant ship, sank there around 425 BC. It carried a cargo of thousands of wine amphorae from Mendi (an ancient city of Halkidiki) and Peparithos (today’s Skopelos), regions known in antiquity for their wine. The pile of amphorae, which extends over 25 meters of the seabed, gives one a feel of the ship’s outline and its large dimensions. The shipwreck is one of the most important of classical antiquity.
The excavation was conducted by archaeologists and personnel of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture, who today are responsible for the opening of the wreck to the public. The impressive number of amphorae, the excellent condition of the wreck at 21 to 28 meters, the beauty of the exotic waters and the rich seabed located within the protected area of the National Marine Park of Alonissos in the Northern Sporades, make the Ancient shipwreck of Peristera a destination that interests every experienced diver.
Access to the mysterious world of the seabed, however, does not only concern diving fans, but is addressed to all the visitors of Alonissos, who alternatively have the opportunity to enjoy the unique spectacle of the shipwreck, without even getting wet. In one of the enchanting side streets of the Alonissos Chora one is greeted by the Center for Information and Public Awareness, with all the facts on the history of ancient shipwrecks and the opportunity for a virtual dive and tour of the wrecks on the seabed with applications of augmented reality.
The 2020 pilot operation of the Peristera shipwreck as an underwater archaeological site to be visited is the result of cooperation between the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Ministry of Culture and Sports, Region of Thessaly and Municipality of Alonissos. The project was prepared as part of the BLUEMED cross-border cooperation programme and will continue until 2023 with the funding of the Thessaly Regional Development Plan /RDP. This landmark project which is expected to establish Greece on the “map” of global diving tourism, has already won significant awards from the European Union, while being presented by leading international media.