Syntagma Square, comprising the very heart of the Greek capital of Athens, will soon be transformed into a sustainable urban area following a vote on Monday.
The Municipal Council of the City of Athens voted to go through with plans — which were developed two decades ago — to renovate the lower part of the square and turn it into a “green” urban space.
Syntagma Square will be unrecognizable
Renovation is set to begin as soon as possible, in August 2021, using plans designed by Professor Dimitris Manikas in 1999.
The central square of Athens is to be modernized in order to take transportation needs into account. One of the most radical changes that will occur is a reduction in the number of traffic lanes around the square from six to four.
This shift aims to increase road safety and reduce noise and pollution levels, making the square more sustainable in the long term.
A bus lane for use exclusively by public transport vehicles will also be added to the street adjacent to Syntagma Square, allowing the area to better serve as a mass transport hub. Despite all of these alternations to the streets around the square, the road system will retain its characteristic curved shape.
Sidewalks will also be widened in order to allocate more space to pedestrians, and the area will be made more accessible overall. People with disabilities will finally be able to easily navigate and move around the center of Athens, as the renovations will include ramps and tactile markings for increased accessibility.
George Giannis, a transportation specialist, reacted to the plans for Syntagma Square very favorably.
“The widening of the pedestrian area in Syntagma Square is an important first step towards the recovery of public space and sustainable urban mobility in the centre of Athens, which should have been implemented some time ago,” he stated.
“Pedestrians will have more space to stand and move, passengers on several buses will be able to de-board comfortably now without having to pass between illegally-parked taxis. Furthermore, vehicle traffic will flow better, as there will be no more space for illegal stops by a few cars and taxis which currently are to the detriment of the many.”
A green future for the center of Athens
Plans for the future of Syntagma Square and the rest of Athens also take sustainability into account. A total of 28 trees will be planted along the street in order to not only beautify the square but also make it environmentally sustainable, as scientists around the world call attention to the climate crisis.
The trees will also work to provide shade for pedestrians, hopefully making walking around Athens much more bearable during the blazing hot summer months. Shade will also be provided by new pergolas which will be permanently installed around the square.