Another one of the world’s greatest architectural treasures, Athen’s Acropolis is in danger of being degraded by highly controversial construction. The monumental plateau that holds the famed Parthenon, is at risk because officials want to make it more accessible to tourists.
Archaeologists and scholars from around the world have joined lawyers and historians in condemning the plan for further renovations including the overhaul of the entrance to the Propylaea gateway. The experts say the plan will be “equivalent to the degradation, concealment, and devaluation of the greatest archaeological and artistic treasure that has been bequeathed to modern Greece, in which humanity has entrusted its preservation.”
The situation was originally reported initially by Art Newspaper, telling of the idea from architectural restorer Manolis Korres, President of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee, and approved by the Central Archaeological Council in February. This story at Smithsonian Magazine also gives more detail. Meanwhile, images via designboom show a horrendous engineering situation where a concrete section has been laid over the natural rock atop the Acropolis.
The hydrology of this must have been carried either in haste or by less than expert engineers and architects. The video below from the Ministry of Culture reveals new concrete laid, as well as the condition of the paths beforehand.
The plan calls for reconstructing the Roman marble staircase, the Acropolis’s western access point, erected in the 1st century AD to its original design. The path is currently difficult for some tourists to traverse because of rubble and a general state of disrepair. A survey of the staircase is due to be done in the autumn to design a construction plan. So far, there has been no substantive response to the concerns of those imploring the government to block the plans. The signers of the complaint say the plan runs “contrary to the internationally recognized and established principles concerning the preservation, conservation, and safeguarding of antiquities.”
The Greek Ministry of Culture did not respond to an Artnet News request for comment but in March dismissed the criticism and said the intent was to restore the entrance to its “original ancient form” based on “exhaustive archaeological-architectural documentation.” Critics say the new plan creates an appearance that has no basis in history.
In the autumn of 2020, the ministry upgraded old walkways with reinforced concrete to make the area easier for people with disabilities but the critics said in their letter it was really done to “accommodate even larger crowds of summer tourists” and bring in more money.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Acropolis is one of the world’s most visited attractions and a lure for visitors to Greece.