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Greece inaugurates 'Parthenon of shipwrecks'
The first underwater museum in Greece was inaugurated by the Minister of Culture and Sports Mr. Lina Mendoni at the wreck of Peristera, Alonissos, on Saturday, August 1st, in the presence of the Regional Governor of Thessaly k. Kostas Agorastou, who dived at a depth of 25 meters, along with the mayor of Alonissos Mr. Petros Vafini, singer Sakis Rouvas and executives of the Ephorate of Enalion Antiquities of the Ministry of Antiquities. Photo: The Ministry of Culture and Sports.

ALÓNNISOS (AFP).- Greece on Saturday inaugurated its first underwater museum, a trove of 5th century BC amphorae labelled the "Parthenon of shipwrecks", off the coast of Alonissos island in the western Aegean.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni along with other officials attended the ceremony that took place in the noon underwater by divers on a boat.

The site of the 5th century BC wreck will be open to tours for certified amateur divers from August 3 to October 2 while those who can't dive can follow a virtual reality tour at an information centre in the main town of Alonissos.

"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.

The wreck of the two-handled vases is believed to be one of the most important of its kind because most of them are intact. They were found by a fisherman in 1985.

A big merchant ship that is believed to have sunk because of bad weather around 425 BC was carrying thousands of amphorae of wine from Chalkidiki in Northern Greece and the island of Skopelos, Pari Kalamara, director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities told Ert tv.

"The amphorae are revealing the form of the ancient ship. This has been a big ship", she adds.

"We are offering to the humanity the Parthenon of shipwrecks", Kostas Agorastos, governor of Thessaly region, where the island of Alonissos is located, commented on Skai Tv.

Authorities are planning on rendering four more ancient shipwrecks in the area accessible to amateur divers aiming to form a diving park that will attract more tourists.

According to the state-run Ert tv, two diving groups from Britain are expected on Monday.

© Agence France-Presse

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