Greece to Protect Historic Athens Cinemas Ideal and Astor
The Greek Environment Ministry’s Central Council of Architecture (KESA) has decided to protect Athens’ Astor and Ideal cinemas designating the two historic landmarks as cultural monuments, said the Greek Culture Ministry.
The decision came after city residents, culture and heritage groups as well as Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis called for the protection of the two cinemas located in the heart of the Greek capital which date back to the early 1900s.
According to the council decision, Ideal will be preserved and used for cultural events and conferences. The council has set out terms and conditions of use that highlight the landmark, “which is inextricably linked to the historical, architectural and cultural life of the city”. Additionally, Astor, located on the ground floor of an already listed monument, has also been protected.
“The KESA assessed that the preservation of cultural use of the city’s historic buildings adds value to the development of each property and considers that investment plans for the utilization of Athens’ historical building stock should go hand in hand with the promotion of collective memory and artistic value, as mutual financial benefits arise. The loss of important cultural activity for the city of Athens, whose value in measurable and immeasurable terms, is very high, should not be compromised,” read the council decision.
“Yes, we want economic development. We want investments, we want visitors. However, we do not want Athens to lose its spirit. We don’t want to turn into an ancient Greek Disneyland. The opposite. Our strength is our authenticity and mixed use. We are not competing with Dubai, nor do we want a deserted city. We want a city made for the permanent residents and that is why we are here today,” said Bakoyannis in a press conference last month.
In March, a study revealed the urgent need for the Athens municipality to formulate and implement a full-scope policy that will set the terms and conditions for business activity in the city center and in this way safeguard the capital from gentrification. The gentrification of Athens over the last few years, the study found, is creating a new urban reality that is impacting both the life of residents and the viability of businesses.