GREECE UNVEILS NEW HOME FOR MARBLES

A new museum has opened in Athens, with a special gallery in it for the Elgin Marbles.

The marbles are Greek sculptures that were part of the Parthenon, but have been held in London's British Museum for nearly 200 years.

Greece held a lavish opening ceremony, attended by foreign heads of state and government, hoping it would reinforce its claim for the return of almost half the stunning 160-metre frieze of a religious procession.

The 2,500-year-old sculptures were prised off the Acropolis walls in the early 1800s for Britain's diplomat Lord Elgin and he sold them to the British Museum where they remain.

Authorities in Greece are urging the museum in London to give them back what they say is rightfully theirs.

But despite the call, the British museum spokesman, Hannah Boulton, says the sculptures do not belong to Greece.

"They are now museum objects," she said.

"They are objects of world art and as such ... there is no problem with them being divided between two different museums and telling two different but complimentary stories."