Restoration of north wall of Athens Acropolis to begin

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Greece’s Central Archaeological Council has approved a proposal for restoring sections of the north wall surrounding the Athens Acropolis, which need repairs for safety and structural reasons. A decision on a second, more controversial plan, is still pending after members raised objections during a meeting on Tuesday.

Restoration of north wall of Athens Acropolis to begin

The repairs concern sections of the medieval wall surrounding the Acropolis, with members giving a ‘green light’ to repair plans for the wall northeast of the north porch of the Erechtheum. This contains some architectural elements from the archaic temple and the pre-Parthenon that were incorporated into the wall during the building of the fortifications at the time of Themistocles, some of which are now visible from a distance.

There is also the upper part of the Classical-era wall from the Themistocles era and signs of carving on the inner side that provide evidence of an Erechtheum courtyard, only traces of which remain.

The problems are chiefly due to erosion and rusting of iron supports used during restoration work by Nikolaos Balanos in the early 20th century, while cement used to hold up eroded parts made the situation worse. The proposals approved aim to restore this section to ensure both structural integrity and aesthetic improvements.

Restoration of north wall of Athens Acropolis to begin

More controversial was a proposal concerning the west side of the northern wall near the Propylaea, which called for the removal of a section of the wall built in the 15th century A.D. in order to reveal a portion of the classical fortifications. Only the inner part of this older fortification survives, however, since its exterior has been destroyed to a depth of one or two metres. The proposal suggested removal of the medieval section to reveal the older Classical wall and the addition of new material.

This met with objections, with the head of the Cyclades Antiquities Ephorate Dimitris Athanasoulis pointing out that the process was irreversible, that the medieval section was also an antiquity and that the proposal essentially called for the construction of a “21st century wall” without full knowledge of the way the original was built. Other suggestions called for the reconstruction of only the lower eight layers of the Classical-era wall that remain, leaving the Medieval one intact.

“Athens was one of the most important medieval cities in the world and there is nothing left. The only traces of it are in the walls. If we rip them up from there as well that would  be a crime,” Athanasoulis told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

The Council decided that there should be an on-the-spot inspection of the site by its members and that the matter should be discussed again, with consultation of the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Antiquities services and agencies.

Source: ANA-MPA [September 21, 2016]

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