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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsEnvironmentThe New Thessaloniki Coast: Botanical Gardens and Pools in the Sea

The New Thessaloniki Coast: Botanical Gardens and Pools in the Sea

Thessaloniki coast, October 2021. Credit: Andreas K, Unsplash

The Prefecture of Central Macedonia on Monday announced plans for the redesign of Thessaloniki’s shoreline, plans that include botanical gardens and swimming pools in the sea.

The Governor of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, announced in a press conference the vision for the future of Thessaloniki’s shoreline. “The purpose of the Special Urban Plan is the reconnection of Thessaloniki with the sea, which will also include the strengthening of mobility, the upgrading of the environment and culture, and of course, economic development, giving a new, regulated urban public space to citizens and visitors of the Urban Complex.”

Governor of Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, speaks to the press on November 19, 2021 credit: Prefecture of Central Macedonia

This plan, which is three years in the making, includes the contributions of multiple government and municipal entities: the prefecture of Central Macedonia, the Deputy Governor of Thessaloniki, the municipalities of Thessaloniki, Delta, Kalamaria, Pylaia-Chortiatis, Ampelokipi-Menemeni, Thermis and the Technical Chamber of Greece, Section of Central Macedonia, to name a few.

Slated to be completed by 2030, the lofty plan seeks to utilize 1,000 acres of land to create a continuous coastal recreation area and a promenade, where citizens and visitors alike can freely bicycle and walk, reconnect with the sea, and enjoy public spaces and nature.

The plans for the new Thessaloniki shoreline go beyond previous administration’s attempts at cleanup and look to increase the quality of life of the people of Thessaloniki, integrating recreational athletics and cultural experiences in their day-to-day world.

Thessaloniki Shoreline Plan

Map of plan for Thessaloniki Coast Revival 2030, credit Prefecture of Central Macedonia

Beginning from the western part of the shore, in the area of Kalochori, the plan outlines an environmental upgrade to the lagoon area; this is an implementation based on the National Center for Habitats’ past reports. Some areas will be earmarked for students and elderly visitors, while observation areas are also to be created. Due to the area’s designation as environmentally protected, any interventions will be respectful of nature.

For the Municipality of Ampelokipi-Menemeni, which belongs to the wider area of ​​Dendropotamos, the main goal is the regeneration of the area. The polluted area has seen attempts at cleanups multiple times over the years; planners hope to overcome past failures.

The mayor of Ampelokipi-Menemeni reinforced this point, saying “As mayor of western Thessaloniki, I would be remiss if I did not mention the western coastal front, which is the dirtiest. It is no coincidence that the Region started a 6.5 million euro project last summer for its decontamination. Unfortunately, for so many years no government has been interested in this very important issue. The only serious, responsible initiative that is proposed is by Apostolos Tzitzikostas. The mayors, without geographical discrimination, all together, support this project.”

Urban transformations that harken back to New York City’s Highline project can be expected as well, as ​​the old freight station will morph into a metropolitan park of about 50 acres, with a walking axis from the new Holocaust Museum to Eleftheria Square.

The design for the old beach is reinforce the famous boardwalk and ensure the path is safe for pedestrians and bicycles, while for the new beach, the plan is to build underground parking garages, which could combat one of Thessaloniki’s greatest problem points: illegal parking.

In an effort to increase water sports, there will be the creation of new swimming facilities by the Concert Hall.

A pedestrian and bicycle route will be created in ​​the Municipality of Kalamaria, while in the area of ​​Aretsos, the plan foresees the construction of swimming pools that resemble pools in the sea.

Finally, on the seashore of the Municipality of Pylaia-Chortiatis, the creation of a metropolitan park and botanical garden by ​​the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is in the works.

The Athens Riviera has been a great attraction for tourists in the country’s capital and now, the cultural capital of Greece, Thessaloniki, hopes to recreate and elevate the Thessaloniki coast in similar fashion. The budget for this grand plan is still unknown, as public deliberations have just begun; however the Prefecture hopes to break ground by the beginning of 2024.

Tzitzikostas concluded the press conference with a powerful call to action for all, saying “It is a big step for our common vision, for the creation of Macedonia 2030, a Region that is modern, smart, green and human. It is the great challenge that we have before us, which we can all conquer together.”

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