By Diego Saez Papachristou
Athens, June 1 (EFE).- The oldest underwater city of Pavlopetri, which sits just three meters deep a few meters from the shore of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, is a hidden metropolis that is beginning to gain popularity among travelers keen to learn more about the prehistoric settlement.
According to archaeologists the sunken city dates back over 5,000 years and was a thriving hub during the Bronze Age.
Tourists in search of an offbeat experience can bathe in turquoise waters and swim through the prehistoric streets, ancient buildings, courtyards and burial sites of Pavlopetri.
To guide tourists, the municipality of Elafonisos, regional government and Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities placed signs that guide swimmers along three routes and explain the ruins.
“When someone goes to a museum, they read information about what is on display. Well, this is what was done here, but under the sea,” Efi Liaru, mayor of Elafonisos, tells Efe.
The settlement, according to Liaru, is not in danger of being damaged by visitors, since only the foundations remain and all moving objects have been removed in different excavations during the last 10 years.
Visitors can explore the collection of objects sourced in Pavlopetri at the archaeological museum in Neapolis, very close to Pavlopetri, and at the museum of Pylos in the western Peloponnese.
The first route, which is the closest to the coast, leads visitors through the foundations of an old neighborhood that archaeologists think were mansions with more than 10 rooms and two floors per home, in what was thought to be one of the first residential complexes in human history.
The second route takes divers through an underwater cemetery, which is the most remote point of the city and where two large Mycenaean tombs carved into the rock lie. Only Pavlopetri’s elite were placed to rest in this spot which enjoyed spectacular views of the city.
The third route takes bathers along the different streets of the city, a sophisticated network that was once used to transport goods.
According to archaeological investigations, Pavlopetri — which was discovered in 1968 by Australian oceanographer Nicholas Flemming — was a prosperous city with an established economy of artisans — experts believe the city was home to a thriving textile industry — merchants and bureaucrats.
The Pavlopetri site has received 500,000 euros from the European INHERIT program, which aims to conserve natural heritage.EFE