This European island just became home to the world’s first deepwater archaeological park

The site sits at depths of 115m, and can also be explored virtually from the museum, which sits safely on dry land

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly
Contributing Writer
Xlendi, Malta
Photograph: Shutterstock

Xlendi, a small town nestled in the southwestern corner of Gozo, Malta’s largest island, is home to a brand-new archeological park – and it’s underwater. 

Yes, you read that right. While it sounds like something from a movie, the Archeological Zone at Sea has officially been inaugurated, and it's open for visitors. 

Thanks to its situation in the Med between Europe and Africa, Malta has a fascinating history. It has historically been ruled by the Romans, Sicilians, Arabs, Normans and Phoenicians, and is famed for its rugged, fossil-studded coastline. 

The park, which is of significant archeological value, covers a patch of seabed which is approximately 67,000m² in size. The area was designated in 2020, and consists of fine silt, sprinkled with rocky outcrops and extinct coral reefs, but also features archeological objects. The most common are oval-shaped ancient greek vases, known as Amphorae. 

The park sits at depths as low as 115m, meaning visiting it in person is only an option for technical divers. However, there is also a virtual museum, which allows the public to appreciate the unique cultural heritage of this incredible destination. The park has also been mapped out on the Underwater Malta website.

National Heritage Minister, Owen Bonnici, said ‘By means of this virtual museum, more people can appreciate the unique sites of our seas.’

Involved in the efforts of getting the park established was Heritage Malta’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the Munxar Local Council and the University of Malta. It was all made possible thanks to sponsorship from the Malta Airport Foundation. 

Though getting to experience the magic of the park in person would involve some pretty rigorous diving training, a visit to the museum promises to be a fascinating dive into Malta’s deep sea history. 

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