The project to renovate the Acropolis of Athens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is attracting much criticism and Greek government Accused of damaging an invaluable historical heritage. The focus of the controversy is a new concrete walkway that opened in December, built in an extensive renovation to receive millions of visitors each year, including those with reduced mobility.
Architect Tasos Tanoulas, a former member of the Acropolis restoration team, called the new ramp “inconsistent” and “suffocating”. The main opposition leader, former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, exposes the “abuse” of Greece’s most famous archaeological site and one of the most important in the world.
The works were finished only a year earlier and critics say they were done without due care to protect the monument from the 5th century BC, with the government responding that every precaution has been taken and being criticized by the opposition. has been
This week, the Ministry of Culture announced new facilities on the Acropolis for visitors with disabilities – the result, he said, of talks with the main associations representing these people. Braille signs will be installed for the visually impaired, as well as a handrail and signage for downhill access. Before the pandemic, more than 3.5 million people visited the site in 2019.
On the day AFP visited the Acropolis, a woman stumbled into a hole in the middle of a new walkway, one of several gaps that were deliberately designed to allow a view of the ancient rock below. After a group of visitors passed by, a worker was cleaning the earth towards another hole that day.
“It’s a rugged plateau. The shores are far from safe,” said tour guide Smaragda Taulupa, who recently visited the site with her elderly parents.
The renovation of the Acropolis, which cost approximately 1.5 billion euros and includes night lighting, an elevator for the disabled and improved drainage, was financed by the Onassis Foundation. Greek Culture Minister Lena Mendoni said the works, designed to encourage an influx of public, were carried out by “world-renowned experts” with over four decades of experience.
But Smaragda Taulupa, author of the article Guide to Heritage Management and the Acropolis since 1998, regrets that this large project was decided by a small circle, formed mostly by archaeologists. “It’s a completely technical approach,” he said.
Even UNESCO learned through a “third party” the “intervention” in the Acropolis of Athens, Mechtilde Rossler, director of the United Nations organization’s World Heritage Center in charge of culture, told AFP. As a signatory to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Greece “must give notice before making any decision which is difficult to reverse,” he said.
Lena Mendoni guarantees that there was no obligation to inform UNESCO about these “minor” and “fully reversible” changes. Officials said the renovation was needed because the pathways around the Acropolis, designed 50 years ago and last renovated in 2012, see hundreds of accidents every year.
Project manager Manolis Korres, a respected architect who has been involved in the project since 1975, made sure the concrete rests on a protective membrane that can be quickly removed if necessary. Concrete pavement was also necessary for heavy machinery to move the multi-ton slab.
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