Home News ‘It’s against the law’: Concrete pathway at Acropolis stirs debate

‘It’s against the law’: Concrete pathway at Acropolis stirs debate


Athens, Greece – A concrete controversy is raging over the Acropolis in Athens.

Architects and archaeologists say that repaving pathways for guests on the millennia-old monument with concrete is a barbaric intervention.

“It’s against the law to wound the Rock, as a result of it’s a monument,” architect Tasos Tanoulas informed native newspaper EfSyn, utilizing shorthand for the Acropolis, an historical fortress and temple complicated which towers 150 metres above Greece’s capital metropolis.

However Greece’s tradition ministry factors out that the pathway guests have used for many years was additionally product of concrete, and the necessity to present entry for disabled individuals to the location acted as a catalyst for the overhaul.

The outdated concrete pathway was bumpy and uneven, having suffered the wear and tear of roughly 4,000 pairs of footwear a day for 40 years.

An elevator has been constructed on the northwestern aspect of the rock to allow wheelchair entry.

“We’ve been speaking about disabled entry to the Acropolis because the 2004 Olympics,” stated Yiannis Vardakastanis, president of the Confederation of Disabled Folks.

“Now we will say that any disabled individual on this planet who desires to go to the Acropolis can accomplish that.”

Previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Acropolis attracted tens of millions of tourists yearly [Jason Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Nonetheless, the truth that concrete was used once more has brought on controversy.

“[The pathway] imposes itself aesthetically with its fashionable look and its sheer measurement,” stated Despoina Koutsoumba, president of the Affiliation of Hellenic Archaeologists.

“The scene of a concrete metropolis that we see from on prime of the Acropolis has now climbed up onto the Acropolis itself.”

Archaeologist Manolis Korres, who’s answerable for restoration works on the Acropolis, informed Al Jazeera: “Generally individuals get carried away by prejudices and get hung up on labels. If this materials have been known as one thing else, it would meet with no controversy.

“Some individuals imagined a tile flooring, and cobblestones can be very good, however there was by no means such a factor on this historical street.

“This street was at all times naked bedrock and later had grooves to enhance traction. It by no means had tiles. The one alternative we had was to heal the injury with a cloth that appears like rock, and from amongst synthetic supplies there is no such thing as a different that simulates rock than concrete.”

Purism versus custom

What brought on the latest uproar is that reasonably than merely rebuild the concrete path laid down in 1978, Korres and his group widened it from 5 metres to 18.

However this, he says, means the trail extra intently matches what existed on the Acropolis 25 centuries in the past.

“This was the constructing Athenians would file by means of on main festivals to assemble on the altar,” says Korres, pointing to the location’s monumental gatehouse referred to as the Propylaia, the place the concrete pathway begins.

“1000’s would arrive in a day, which is why you wanted such a broad gate with 5 doorways, and a broad pathway.”

“The explanation the pathway narrows 40 metres into the location is that that’s the place there was a left flip resulting in the altar. Most guests in antiquity went that means,” he says.

The widening of the pathway from 5 metres to 18 has brought on uproar [Jason Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Patches of grooved rock left uncovered on the pathway’s edges display that the brand new concrete path faithfully follows the traditional one.

And the concrete is reversible, says the ministry, as a result of it has been poured on prime of plastic sheeting which protects the bedrock.

“Throughout the nice Panathenaic pageant, 10,000 Athenians a day have been capable of enter by means of this gateway. That’s what it was designed for. We merely by no means restored it resulting from inertia,” says Korres.

The broadened pathway is simply the start of a a lot bigger refurbishment venture now beneath means, which goals to revive what Korres says was architects’ unique imaginative and prescient for the Acropolis 25 centuries in the past, when Athenian energy was at its top.

Whereas guests should now squeeze alongside a picket ramp by means of one in all 5 doorways within the Propylaia, Korres plans to revive entry by means of all 5.

Later, a grand marble staircase will change a zig-zagging ramp that leads as much as the Propylaia from the underside of the hill.

The shadows of eliminated stone steps present that Athenians had begun to construct this staircase when the Peloponnesian Struggle halted work in 431 BC.

‘A constructive development’

Whereas the controversy rages amongst Greeks and consultants, for some guests the adjustments are acceptable – and unnoticeable.

“What they’ve there didn’t really feel prefer it wasn’t in place or that it didn’t slot in. You didn’t actually discover it as an eyesore or something like that,” says Molly, a customer from Australia.

“I perceive why they wish to preserve issues preserved, says Tyler Gates, an American. “However I additionally suppose that within the twenty first century we’re far more inclusive, we wish individuals of all backgrounds and all skills to have the ability to take part in our historic monuments and our schooling. So, I believe that it’s a constructive development of society to have accessibility.”

The broadened pathway is simply the start of a a lot larger refurbishment of the Acropolis now beneath means [Jason Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Korres and the ministry of tradition have additionally been accused of redesigning the pathways to confess extra vacationers from cruise ships, in an effort to commercialise the location.

However Korres says the restoration is about greater than tickets or disabled entry; it’s about seeing the Acropolis as fifth-century BC Athens meant it to be seen, one thing fashionable individuals have by no means skilled.

“Ever since I used to be very younger, the misunderstanding that this entrance presents bothered me,” he says.

“Folks by no means entered the Acropolis this manner. It’s overseas … after I took over the restoration works right here, I realised this was one thing that couldn’t go on.

“It wasn’t the variety of guests [who had access] that issues me. If it have been merely 100 a day they deserved to see what was right here, reasonably than some thought restorers had within the Nineteen Fifties.”