A new walkway at the Acropolis that opened to the public in March is at the centre of a months’ long controversy involving accusations over the legitimacy of the renovation works. The grey concrete track came to replace an older one from the 70s that had worn away over time.
Proponents of the restoration project, including lead architect Manolis Korres, stress the functionality of the pathway, intended to make the site more accessible for tourists, and particularly those bound in wheelchairs.
But critics have for months now called the change to the site criminal, arguing it ruins one of the most famous ancient monuments in the world.
The debate quickly turned political with Opposition leader Alexis Tsipras having called for the government to “stop abusing our cultural heritage” and Culture Minister Lina Mendoni defending the development, which has the approval of the Central Archaeological Council.
A recent report has brought once again a heated exchange between Greek politicians over the issue on the surface.
Prepared by PBS special correspondent in Athens, Michael Brabant, the 28 July report includes interviews by a range of stakeholders including Minister Mendoni stating that UNESCO had known about the restoration works since 2002 and that in any case the pathway is not considered a major change, saving Greece from the obligation to inform the United Nations world heritage body.
But according to reporter Mr Brabant who cites UNESCO sources, “officials are certainly are not happy about the way in which the Greek authorities have behaved” wanting “all work to stop until proper consultations have taken place.”
“UNESCO is also concerned that it had to learn about the modifications from critics, instead of from the Greek state,” he notes.
In response, SYRIZA MP Sia Anagnostopoulou launched accusations against Culture Minister Lina Mendoni for responsibility of damaging the iconic monument.
MP Anagnostopoulou called on the Minister to answer to the report’s allegation that UNESCO had not been informed ahead about the plan, and to address the UN body’s concern, by discontinuing the second phase of the concrete corridors until further consultations take place.
“Lina Mendoni is responsible for her persistence in carrying out acts that damage the country’s top monument and embarrass Greece internationally,” the SYRIZA MP said.