Since October 2021, the Acropolis, a site of world heritage, has come into the limelight because of the interventions already implemented, as well as those planned for the future. Up until today, extensive volumes of reinforced concrete have been poured, while the future configuration entails horizontal pathways covering up the entire Sacred Rock, as well as the reconstruction of the Roman staircase on the west slope of the Acropolis.
The implemented interventions have caused an uproar on the part of scientists, cultural stakeholders and ordinary citizens based on the issues of the construction material, the extent and the aesthetic value of the new platforms, the irreversibility of the interventions, the coverage of the natural bedrock and its effect on the rainwater drainage system.
The Ministry of Culture and Sports, being the competent authority for the protection of the Acropolis site, has justified the interventions as necessary and proper for the accomodation of people with disabilities and the transportation of marble by heavy machinery. MONUMENTA, a member of the civil society, watches the Acropolis interventions with concern. Its members, archeologists and architects specialised in restoration and management of cultural monuments, acknowledge the functional and social purposefulness of the interventions, as well as the obstacles posed by the complexity of the issue. Yet, having visited the site, they all express their concern about the width of the new pathways, especially on the eastern side of the Propylaia and the eastern side of the Parthenon, the architectural engraving, major part of which is characterised by austere straight lines deviating from the natural landscape, as well as the lack of design refinements, mainly found at the construction edges. Ultimately, the aforementioned features condemn the final result. The new layers disrupt the unity and the harmony of the landscape, they dominate and avert the visitors’ eyes away from the whole and they downgrade the distinctive architectural and aesthetic values of this unique ensemble of natural landscape and architecture. The aesthetic degradation is further intensified by the rest of the equipment items of the archeological site ( rope poles, living benches, fountains etc.) which reveal the absence of a design study equivalent to a World Heritage Monument.
Regarding the future interventions involving the coverage of the whole bedrock surface with different levels and the restoration of the Roman staircase on the west side of the Propylaia, it is undoubted that the latter violate the world heritage conventions, even if their form is justified sufficiently, without any assumptions. Both the wide land area of the new constructions and the domination of new materials covering up the surface of the Sacred Rock, will rupture the deep-rooted relationship between the monuments and their natural landscape. Moreover, the concealment of plenty of authentic features, including the rock surface, will cause the degradation of the overall authenticity of the site, since it will no longer be visible. This massive intervention cannot be justified with the need for the monument’s protection or other functional reasons stemming from the operation of the archeological site. It should also be noted that the issue of increasing crowds of visitors cannot be confronted with new, wider pathways, but with traffic regulation and visit schedules according to the carrying capacity of the space, as is the case in many acclaimed museums and sites abroad.
Acknowledging the significance of the restoration work being implemented for more than four decades on the Acropolis monuments, as well as the necessity for promotion of the archeological site, we firmly believe that the Ministry of Culture and Sports should take these sincere and well-documented arguments into account and take initiatives against the already implemented interventions. In a broader context, we believe that, prior to reaching crucial decisions for the configuration of emblematic sites such as the Acropolis and the public space in general, the exchange of arguments in the context of scientific encounters and public consultation must always precede.