In an extensive article in the French newspaper Le Monde entitled "Jusqu'où Athènes ira-t-elle?" Francis Pisani guides his readers to the venues of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, pointing out that "from this you can see and perhaps understand Athens. "
He points out, among other things, that it was designed by Renzo Piano (to whom the French owe Beaubourg) and is a beautiful building facing the sea. It houses the opera and the national library, but it does lacks "neither the ambition nor the meaning", as it will accommodate not only printed works, but also virtual links with the rest of the world.
The columnist then refers to the view from the "lighthouse", a huge balcony where one can reach from a small gardened slope that ends up in a roofed area, from where he sees breathlessly, the valley, as he says where European civilization was born. As he writes, in the "lighthouse" he spent hours of intense emotion occupied by the impression that this spectacle includes all that is needed to understand what a city is. At the next table,he notes, students were preparing their lessons, while priests traversed the space at the same time that parents showed their children the city they had never seen before.
From the lighthouse, the view stretches out to a huge valley surrounded by mountains and is almost entirely sown with buildings: in the center the Acropolis is crowned by the Parthenon. And he continues: "An altar for the gods, a harbor for trade, rivers for water, a vast plain for agriculture and a natural shield against attacks. Built in such a location, Athens could not but dominate. This "diamond on earth's ring", this same open and closed place, offers the natural emergence of an identity without which no city can last in time. "
But geography can not explain everything, he says. Its social and political dynamics could only attract people not only from nearby but also from afar. It is no coincidence that Barack Obama delivered one of his last speeches abroad in November 2016: "Because here," he said, "Twenty centuries ago, a new idea emerged between the rocky hills of this city. Democracy, the state - the power, the privilege of administration - stems from the municipality, from the people. "
This marvelous "beacon" that drives reflection can not make us forget that this sunny city is suffering very much today, Pisani continues. Whole areas look frozen; abandoned apartments and closed shops in many blocks in many neighborhoods, cannot escape the eye. Many Athenians were forced to return to the old homes of their families inland or on the coast. "But the city remains; it is still rampant with life. It will be reborn when the times become better. It remains more than ever the work with the longest duration than we have ever built."
This eternal Athens, ends with Francis Pisani, dwellsing, on the one hand on Piano's ambitious project, which came under harsh criticism for the amount spent but also for the designation of "green" for a project that used so much cement despite the lush spacious gardens and renewable energy sourcing, and on the other on China's investment in Piraeus, aiming at making it the top Mediterranean port in the new silk road.