The Turkish town of Enez offers an unusual getaway: an ancient cultural heritage lying beneath the Aegean Sea.
Two kilometres offshore, at a depth of 18 metres, divers can visit an underwater museum showing replicas of original pieces found in the region such as a winged statue, a stele, a lion figure, and a reproduction of the ancient wall of the city. It is also a sheltered area of biodiversity.
The initiative is part of European Union project 'Treasure', which also includes Bulgaria, Moldova, and Romania, to highlight cultural treasures around the Black and Agean seas.
Enez and the other project partners have focused their attention on cultural heritage and sea activities. Bulgaria has concentrated efforts on diving classes for students, Moldova on opening a Touristic Centre, and the creation of a digital atlas, showing the underwater spots and the most interesting places in the four partner countries. Romania's Contribution is a 3D hologram with video footage that will display treasures brought to the surface, the knowledge of which will then be shared among the different partners.
Remziye Irmak, is the Treasure Project Coordinator, in Enez.
"The project is about protecting the heritage, making an artificial reef and developing diving tourism in Enez. For making an underwater museum we used the heritage of Enez because this is a very historical place and no-one knows about it in the world."
The original historical artifacts are safely stored, two and a half hours away from Enez, in the Archaeological Museum in Edirne.
Edirne was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1369 to 1453, before Constantinople became the empire's capital.
Local historian and Tour Guide Şafak Yüksel highlights the most interesting piece of the underwater collection, the statue of the goddess Nike.
"The winged goddess of victory, called Nike, is one of the important in Greek mythology with her ability to fly a warrior ship, with speed and also with her strength. The Nike statue is normally around 20-25 cm in size, but in order for divers to see it better and to impress people more, it was made in a larger size and placed underwater.”
The budget for the Treasure project had a total value of € 939,544, mainly coming from the European Cohesion Policy (€ 864,380).
Enez completes its offer, within the Treasure project, with a sports and culture centre offering activities for children and adults.
"In this centre, we are giving education about 'Ebru', (traditional art), and we have music classes: piano, violin, and Turkish classical instruments. And we have fitness and pilates classes and also canoeing and diving equipment in the centre."
Enez aims to open up further opportunities to share its cultural heritage with tourists new to the region. Among the projects to be implemented, are a local tourist agency, a diving centre, and more aquatic activities.