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Underwater monuments

An underwater monument is an object of historical, archaeological, scientific or other cultural value, for example, a sunken vessel, a submerged ancient habitat or a  harbour construction. The underwater monument is a unique historical source, which together with the archaeological and natural surroundings gives us valuable information about the events and the life of past times.

The main purpose of protecting an underwater monument is to ensure its preservation in its original location. It is important to reduce the negative impact accompanying human activities and prevent activities at the underwater monument and its protected zone that directly affect its preservation. Such activities include anchoring, trawling, dredging, dumping solid substances within underwater monuments, and reckless diving.


What are our underwater monuments?

The largest part of the underwater monuments is made up of shipwrecks, the vast majority of which are under protection as an archaeological monument. The site of a shipwreck consists of the remains of the ship itself, cargo, furnishings, commodities and personal belongings of seamen, which form a characteristic archaeological cultural layer of the wreckage. In addition to the wrecks of vessels, harbours and landing places have been preserved in the sea and the prehistoric submerged settlement sites and the places of bridges in inland waters.

For more information on underwater monuments, see the National Register of National Monuments. For additional information on the shipwrecks in Estonian waters, see the wreck register.


  • What is the procedure for placing an underwater object of cultural value under protection?

  • VeeaAn underwater object of cultural value is designated as a historical, archaeological or architectural monument according to which value criteria of a type of monument it meets.

  • An underwater monument is either a historical, archaeological or architectural monument located under water. Anyone can make a proposal for placing an object under protection as a cultural monument. In designation as a monument and revocation of such designation is governed by a regulation (EST) of the Government of the Republic.


Diving to an underwater monument

Diving to an underwater monument and its protected zone may be conducted under the supervision of a service provider authorized by the National Heritage Board or under a diving permit.

Diving to an underwater monument:

  • with the permit for diving, only the owner of the permit may dive to a monument;
  • other divers can be taken along on the activity license;
  • when diving to an underwater monument and its protected zone, the National Heritage Board shall be informed through the National Register of Cultural Monuments or by e-mail (;
  • in addition, the Marine and Aviation Rescue Coordination Centre of the Police and Border Guard Board must be informed (telephone 619 1224, e-mail

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