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Acropolis on a Wheelchair: “Never Been So Happy to See Concrete!”

Acropolis concrete
Ade Adepitan, a wheelchair basketball player, tested the concrete on Acropolis on behalf of BBC’s Travel Show. Credit: Facebook/Travel Show

The decision by Greek authorities to place concrete in some pathways of the Acropolis in 2020 is still causing controversy among archaeologists and the general public.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the cementing of certain areas was part of a project to help people with mobility difficulties.

“The disabled, the elderly, people with various problems have the right to see and admire up close the Acropolis monuments,” a statement said at the time.

Fierce opposition against the concrete on Acropolis

However, the opposition has been fierce. More than 3,500 signatories have endorsed an open letter on the online activist network Avaaz calling for the pathways to be removed and other projected changes to be canceled.

Many architects and archaeologists say that repaving pathways for visitors on the millennia-old monument with concrete is a barbaric intervention.

“It’s a crime to wound the Rock, because it’s a monument,” architect Tasos Tanoulas told the newspaper EfSyn, using shorthand for the Acropolis, an ancient fortress and temple complex that towers 150 meters above Greece’s capital city.

“[The pathway] imposes itself aesthetically with its modern appearance and its sheer size,” said Despoina Koutsoumba, president of the Association of Hellenic Archaeologists.

“The scene of a concrete city that we see from on top of the Acropolis has now climbed up onto the Acropolis itself,” added Koutsoumba.

People with mobility issues hailed the project.

“We’ve been talking about disabled access to the Acropolis since the 2004 Olympics,” said Yiannis Vardakastanis, president of the Confederation of Disabled People.

“Now we can say that any disabled person in the world who wants to visit the Acropolis can do so,” he added.

Making the Acropolis more accessible to people with mobility issues

The BBC went to the Acropolis to test the concrete pathways and the newly installed lift for people with mobility problems.

BBC’s Ade Adepitan presenter of Travel Show is a wheelchair basketball player on an international level.

In the past, he has said it was very difficult for visitors with mobility problems to climb up the hill and see the Parthenon. “Things have changed now,” he says as he takes the lift to the top of the Acropolis and wheels himself on the new concrete pathways.

“After 40 seconds in the lift and using the new accessible paths I get to experience the Acropolis,” said Adepitan happily.

“I have never been so happy to see concrete,” he said. “I have been here in the past and it was very rough and really hard to push along.”

Adepitan noted that there are plans to make the ancient site even more accessible.

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