A photo exhibition titled "UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Properties of Visegrad Group countries and Greece" is running at the Foreign Ministry building in downtown Athens.

The exhibition, which was inaugurated on Tuesday evening by deputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis, aims to contribute toward greater understanding of the importance of world heritage and encourage countries to make a more coordinated effort to protect their properties.

The exhibition is organised by the Greek National Committee for UNESCO, in collaboration with the embassies of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the framework of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Visegrad Group and on the occasion of the April 18 International Monuments and Sites Day, more commonly known as World Heritage Day.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites, which was created on April 18, 1982 by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) and approved at the 22nd UNESCO General Conference the following year, aims to raise public awareness on the diversity of the world's heritage and efforts required to protect and conserve it.

The theme for the 2011 Day is "The Cultural Heritage of Water".

The Visegrad Group, or Visegrad Four (VF), is an alliance of four Central European States -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- for the purpose of cooperation and furthering their European integration. The Group, originally the Visegrad Triangle, originated at a summit meeting of the heads of state or government of then Czechoslovakia (the Group became four members after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and the formation of the two states of Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993) held in the Hungarian castle town of Visegrad in 1991. All four members of the Visegrad Group formally joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

The exhibition includes photographs of monuments from the Visegrad Group countries and Greece that have been included in UNESCO's World Cultural and Natural Heritage list, which currently numbers 911 cultural and natural sites, of which 17 are Greek monuments, 8 are Hungarian monuments and natural sites, 13 are in Poland, 7 in Slovakia, and 12 in the Czech Republic.

The treaty for protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted by the UNESCO general assembly on November 16, 1972, and signed by Greece in 1981.

The exhibition, at the Foreign Ministry building on 1 Akademias street, will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. weekdays through April 21.