December 8, 2022


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In Greece, the Acropolis’ renewal was controversial: “It was a massacre.”

The main object of this outrage: A new concrete pavement was opened in December as part of a major reconstruction needed to accommodate millions of visitors each year, including those with less mobility.

Seasonal architect Tasos Danoulas, a former member of the Acropolis Restoration Committee, called the new arch of the 5th-century BC monument “inappropriate” and “suffocating,” while Alexis Tsipras, the main opposition leader, spoke of the “bad treatment” of Greece. The most famous archeological site.

When asked about liberation in the past, historian Tasos realized that it was a bad idea to cover the stones on his oulas road. “So part of our understanding of the past is covered (…) In general, when we recover a monument, we do not destroy the evidence. Covering this monument is a massacre, these stones.”

Opponents of the work, which was completed a year ago, believe it was carried out without the necessary care to preserve the monument.

The government responds that all precautionary measures have been taken and that these criticisms are being provoked by the opposition. Prior to the epidemic, more than 3.5 million people visited the Acropolis in 2019. The Ministry of Culture this week announced new devices at the Acropolis for the disabled audience, the results of interviews with key associations of the disabled. Braille signs will be installed for visually impaired visitors, as well as signs for safety and oblique access. But the risks remain.

Risk of tripping

On the day of the AFP visit to the Acropolis, a woman stumbled into a hole in the middle of the new sidewalk, one of several holes deliberately designed to give a view of the ancient rock below. After a group of spectators has passed, an employee quickly sweeps the earth into another void. “It’s a plateau with pits. The pits are far away from some,” said tour guide Smarakta Tuluba, who recently showed the site to her elderly parents.

The private Onassis Foundation funded the reconstruction of the Acropolis, which will cost about 1.5 billion euros and include night lighting, the installation of a disabled elevator and better drainage. Aiming to increase the number of visitors to the site, “world-renowned experts” with four decades of experience underlined the Minister of Culture Lena Montoni. “No one questioned their work,” the minister noted. “We have entrusted them with the restoration of the monuments of the Acropolis. How can they be suspected in a project of a concrete arch?” He said a month ago.

But Smarakta Daluba, author of articles on traditional management and guidance at the Acropolis since 1998, said the large-scale project was determined by a small circle, mainly archaeologists. “This is a purely technical approach,” he said. UNESCO is also aware of “third-party” interventions in the Acropolis, McTild Rossler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, told AFP. As a signatory to the UNESCO World Heritage Conference, Greece must stop “before making any decision to turn it upside down,” he continues.

“Minor” changes

According to Lina Montoni, there is no obligation to inform UNESCO about these “small” and “completely reversible” changes. The Minister said that UNESCO experts will attend the International Conference to be held in Athens in the autumn.

According to officials, the renovation is necessary because the roads around the Acropolis, which were designed 50 years ago and last remodeled in 2012, cause hundreds of accidents each year. Project Manager Manolis Chorus, a respected architect, has been working since 1975, making sure the concrete sits on a protective membrane that can be quickly removed if needed. A solid pavement is necessary to allow heavy machinery to move layers weighing several tons.

Under Thessaloniki Metro

Critics have also targeted a plan to relocate the Byzantine timeline discovered during the construction of a new metro in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city. Last month, dozens of experts condemned a decision by the city’s ancient and Byzantine past that “risks protecting important sites”. The 6th century BC trail is “one of the most exciting discoveries of this period in the world,” they said in a tribunal. Launched in 2003 at a cost of செல 1.5 billion, the metro is expected to be operational by 2023.

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