Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has said it is reviving ambitious US$150m plans to develop what it says will be the world’s first underwater museum, which will showcase the submerged ancient ruins of Alexandria.
Announced by minister of antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty, the plans have been in the works for more than seven years after the government decided to turn the ruins, which date back to 365 AD, into a tourist attraction.
The site, which is protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, has more than 2,500 pieces of stonework from the sunken section of Alexandria, covering an area of around 25,000sq m in the Alexandria Bay.
The museum plan originally came about in 2008, when the government was looking at a way to prevent parts of the ancient monuments and relics being pilfered by thieves – who are selling to private collectors – and damaged by water pollution.
French architect Jacques Rougerie drew up plans for fibreglass tunnels which would connect new above-ground waterfront galleries to an underwater facility, where the antiquities would be visible in their sunken state. However, those plans were shelved in 2011, in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution.
According to Youssef Khalifa, chair of the Central Administration of Lower Egypt Antiquities, the plans will be similar to Jacques Rougerie’s original plan, utilising an above-water exhibition space for recovered Alexandria relics and then an underwater tunnel taking visitors down to the 7m-deep (23ft) sea floor in the bay. Source by AM2.