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The Acropolis a Model of Heritage Preservation Says UNESCO

Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens Credit: A Savin CC3 / wikimediacommons

The overall status of the Acropolis in Athens is “excellent and very well protected”, according to a report compiled by UNESCO’s World Heritage Center (WHC) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites – ICOMOS.

The 70-page report, released by the WHC, points out that, since the establishment of the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee in 1975, the conservation and restoration work carried out on the Holy Rock is based on detailed studies, while the decision-making system of the competent agencies is staffed by high-level scientists, who follow a full and detailed process, supervised by the state.

The report was compiled by scientists who visited Greece in 2022, at a time when there was a fierce public debate about the interventions in the Acropolis. These interventions included new routes covered by cement for people with mobility problems, the elevator, and the new lighting of the monument.

UNESCO: Restoration of Acropolis “did not have a negative impact”

According to the report, the much-discussed restoration and widening of the Acropolis routes did not have a negative impact on the monument, although some choices could have been avoided.

“The renovation and enlargement of the existing pathways do not have a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Acropolis. The ancient rock on which the monuments of the Acropolis sit (the Rock), is well protected as the paving is cushioned and not directly attached to the Rock surface,” the report says.

The width of the pathways has been enlarged in the repaving. “This is functionally useful for the volume of visitors, for the movement of wheelchairs and construction materials and vehicles (carrying the heavy marble blocks).”

The report notes, however, that the appearance (texture, color) of the paving material and the width of the pathways could have been designed to better adapt to the setting of the Acropolis.

The installation of the elevator is positive, while the new lighting serves to articulate and enhance the legibility of its form well at night, the experts noted.

“The new elevator, that replaces the 2004 elevator, does not have a negative impact on the OUV of the Acropolis. The intervention seems to be fully reversible and its location is well justified. The necessity for comfortable accessibility for everyone is undeniable for a World Heritage property today.

“The new elevator greatly facilitates the disabled in wheelchairs but also the elderly, pregnant women, and small children in strollers,” the report says.

The report also highlights the need for a detailed evaluation of the interventions and an extensive “management plan” for the Acropolis, while also including proposals for the restoration of the western entrance and for future restoration work.


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