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Greek Archaeological Council Revokes Decision for Building in the Acropolis Area

Photo Source: secure.avaaz.org

Photo Source: secure.avaaz.org

Greece’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) revoked on Wednesday, a 25 September 2018 decision to allow the erection of a nine-storey building in the Koukaki neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis after fierce reactions last month.

The KAS had initially given the green light to the construction of a high-rise building on Misarilotou St. However, the building together with a second on Falirou St in the Makrygianni district – both in the immediate surrounding area of the Acropolis – spurred the strong reaction of locals in February, who are claiming that the buildings are located within the archaeological area of the Acropolis, and that once completed will block the view to the world famous UNESCO heritage site.

Acropolis, Athens. Photo Source: Visit Greece/Y. Skoulas

Acropolis, Athens. Photo Source: Visit Greece/Y. Skoulas

This in turn prompted the environment and culture ministries to investigate possible gaps in current zoning laws that would allow such interventions. In the meantime, Greek authorities were at a loss over the approval of the building permits.

Earlier this month, Greek Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis temporarily suspended all new building permits for building projects in the area surrounding the Acropolis after the public uproar.

Now the KAS – following an on-the-sport inspection on March 4 of the said construction – has unanimously agreed that the 32-meter-tall building once completed will “cause, among others, visual damage to the Acropolis monument”.

The committee also concluded that the building would not fit in (“harmonize”) with the overall urban setting, and in terms of height would exceed adjacent buildings. It should be noted that height limit in the immediate area surrounding the Acropolis has been set at 21 meters. The two buildings in question – on Misarliotou and Falirou sts – were given a licence for 31.70 meters and 37 meters, respectively.

In the meantime, Europe’s federation for the protection of cultural heritage, Europa Nostra brought the issue to global attention by backing the public outcry in Athens. In its statement, the federation described the decision by Greek authorities to grant licenses for structures blocking the view to an UNESCO World Heritage site as “inconceivable”.

As for the ongoing petition against the construction of the said buildings organized by the residents of Makrygianni (called Makyrgianni SOS) with the support of the Greek Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET) and the Organizations and Citizens Network for the Historic Center of Athens, it has thus far collected over 25,400 signatures.

About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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