The Archaeological Park at the modern neighborhood of “Akademia Platonos” (Plato’s Academy), lies in the core of Athens’ problematical western district. One owes the miracle of its very existence, i.e. the fact that an unbuilt insula was spared here, amidst the frenzy of Athens’ postwar rebuilding, to the noble madness of a single individual: the architect and dilettante archaeologist P. Aristofron, who, in the 1930’s set as his life’s goal to bring to light by excavations Plato’s Philosophical School, the Academy. He bought fields and funded the digging, which continued also after WWII.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s the Ministries of Culture and of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works continued the immense task of expropriation, demolishing of modern houses and landscaping. However, since the 1990’s an unexpected danger looms over the site: the Ministry of Culture, cancelling out the tedious efforts of the previous 70 years, is programming the building over of at least one fourth of the Park in order to built a new Museum of the City of Athens. The Museum will not be built adjoining the Park, neither will it be housed in any of the many old industrial buildings of the area, nor will it occupy the plot of the soon to be transferred bus station at Kephisos ave. It will not be constructed anywhere in western Athens, an area currently under intense remodeling, but it will land on top of the Archaeological Park.
Perhaps it is viewed upon as the most convenient and cheap solution, by individuals who sacrifice precious open areas for their own personal aims. Let the Ministry of Culture then pour cement over the Philopappos hills, Zapeion, the National Gardens or Rizari Park. The Archaeological Park at Plato’s Academy is equally important and must be protected and upgraded. To anyone walking through it, in search of Plato, the Acropolis is revealed through an unexpected angle. The prospect of even one square metre of this inspiring place being concreted over is nightmarish.