The plan to renovate the Acropolis in Athens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has drawn a lot of criticism. Greek government Allegedly destroying precious historical heritage. At the center of the controversy is a new concrete walkway that began in December and was built for extensive renovations to receive millions of visitors each year, including people with reduced mobility.
Architect Tasos Thanoulas, a former member of the Acropolis restoration team, called the new ramp “incompatible” and “suffocating.” The main opposition leader, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has mistreated Greece’s most famous archeological site and the world’s most important.
Critics say they have been neglecting the monument since the 5th century BC. The government responds that all precautions have been taken and that criticism is fueling opposition.
This week, the Ministry of Culture announced new facilities at the Acropolis for visitors with disabilities – as a result of conversations with key associations representing these people. Braille signs will be installed for the visually impaired, and a handrail and signage will be placed for downward access. Prior to Pandemic, the site was visited by more than 3.5 million people in 2019.
On the day of the AFP visit to the Acropolis, a woman stumbled into a hole in the middle of the new walkway, one of several gaps deliberately designed so that the ancient rock below could be seen. One day after the visitors had passed, an official was knocking the earth into another hole.
“This is a rough plateau. The lodges are not safe,” said tour guide Smaragda Tolopa, who recently visited the site with her elderly parents.
The Onassis Foundation has funded the renovation of the Acropolis, which will cost 1.5 1.5 billion and include night lighting as an elevator for the disabled and improved drainage. Lina Mendoni, the Greek Minister of Culture, said the works, designed to encourage the arrival of the general public, were the work of “world-renowned specialists” with four decades of experience.
But Smaragda Tolupa, author of articles on heritage management and a guide to the Acropolis since 1998, regrets that this big project was decided by a small circle, mostly archaeologists. This is a purely technical approach, he said.
Even UNESCO has studied the “interventions” of the Acropolis in Athens “through third parties,” Mectild Rosler, director of the UN World Heritage Center for Culture, told AFP. As the signatory to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Greece “must give notice before making a difficult decision to reclaim,” he added.
Lina Mendoni assures us that we are not obligated to notify UNESCO of these “minor”, “completely reversible” changes. Officials said the roads around the Acropolis, which were designed 50 years ago and last renovated in 2012, need to be upgraded as they cause hundreds of accidents each year.
Project Manager Manolis Chorus, a respected architect who has been involved in the project since 1975, ensured that a protected membrane rests on concrete that can be removed quickly if needed. Heavy machinery also required solid pavement to move multi-ton slabs.
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