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UNESCO praises Acropolis status as ‘excellent, very well protected’, dismissing concerns over interventions

Featured UNESCO praises Acropolis status as ‘excellent, very well protected’, dismissing concerns over interventions

A report compiled by UNESCO’s World Heritage Center (WHC) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) refers to the status of the Athens Acropolis as “excellent and very well protected”, two years after sharp opposition criticism was raised in Greece over the laying of a cement walkway at the site.

The 70-page report, released by the WHC, notes that since the establishment of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee in 1975, conservation and restoration works carried out at the archaeological site, considered the quintessence of Classical Antiquity, are based on detailed studies, whereas decision-making bodies are staffed by top researchers, who adhere to a comprehensive process that is supervised by state authorities.

The report was compiled by specialists who visited Athens last year, amid the political clash between the center-right Mitsotakis government and main opposition SYRIZA party over interventions at the Acropolis. The most prominent and controversial – for some – intervention was a cement walkway designed to facilitate visitors with mobility problems, but also an exterior elevator and the new outdoor lighting of the monument.

The width of the pathways has been enlarged
The report states that the width of the pathways has been enlarged in the repaving. “This is functionally useful for the volume of visitors, for the movement of wheelchairs and construction materials and vehicles (carrying the heavy marble blocks).”

Conversely, the report adds that the appearance (texture, color) of the paving material and the width of the pathways could have been designed to better adapt to the setting.

The installation of the elevator is positive, while the new lighting serves to articulate and enhance the legibility of its form well at night, the experts’ report states.

Taking the report as his que, and speaking in what’s now essentially the campaign trail ahead of the May 21 general election, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the report and turned his sights on leftist SYRIZA party.
“I am wondering, where are all those sensitive people who spoke about the ‘cementing’ of the Acropolis? The same people who angrily protested against the minister of culture over an intervention what was judged today, by UNESCO itself, as exemplary.”