A first-of-its-kind underwater museum, at the site of an ancient shipwreck off the uninhabited islet of Peristera, near Alonissos island, was inaugurated on Saturday.
The unique opening ceremony was held in the presence of Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.
"The Peristera shipwreck museum is finally delivered - albeit on a pilot basis until October - to the residents of Alonissos, the people of Greece and the international community," Mendoni told ANA-MPA.
At a depth of 25 meters, Governor of Thessaly Kostas Agorastos and popular singer Sakis Rouvas both dived in the clear blue waters to cut the ribbon.
Mendoni also pointed to what she called "the modern trend for sustainable development," as being "our own target and society's target, not only of Greece but of the planet. Only in the context of sustainable development can we talk about both life and overall development."
The famous shipwreck, which is considered one of the most important in classical antiquity due to the large number of intact finds, was discovered in 1985 by a fisherman from Alonissos, near the western rocky coastline of Peristera, at a depth of 28 meters. It was a large merchant ship of that time, probably an Athenian vessel, which is estimated to have run into very stormy weather and sank there around 425 BC. The ship seems to have been loaded with thousands of wine amphorae from Peparithos (today’s Skopelos) and Mendi (the ancient city of Halkidiki), two areas well known in antiquity for their excellent wine.
"Alonissos, Thessaly and Greece present to humanity the 'Parthenon of underwater museums," mused Governor of Thessaly Kostas Agorastos, who added that, in his opinion, the Peristera shipwreck is of equal significance to the Parthenon, as it is "the planet's oldest shipwreck that can be dived through by humans."
The Peristera shipwreck will be open to tours by certified divers from August 3 to October 2, while visitors who cannot dive can instead take a virtual reality tour of the ancient shipwreck at Alonissos island's information center.