Protecting medieval heritage

Members of the Institute of Medieval Studies, the mayor of Mystras and other fans of medieval Peloponnesian history traveled to the European Parliament in Brussels earlier in the summer in search of partners and support for their «Crusade for Peace and Culture Program,» which aims at enhancing the role of Mystras and preserving its wealthy cultural heritage. There are many castles in Greece which have not received the attention they deserve. The medieval site of Mystras, for instance, may be popular and may attract some 350,000 visitors per year, but few of those visitors remain on the site for more than three hours, as director Nikos Delivorias, president of the institute, pointed out. Other castles in the area are much worse off, as some are almost impossible to find because of poor signposting. Most are in remote areas and do not enjoy a well-organized, long-term protection plan. Despite the significant role they have played in the history of Greece, these sites have become just another part of the landscape. In contrast to what happens in Greece, such monuments abroad are highly prized and widely advertised. As examples, Delivorias mentioned the Belgian city Bouillon, Florence and other smaller towns or even villages. That is what the institute members have in mind for Mystras and the broader region of the Peloponnese. Euro MPs Yiannis Varvitsiotis and Manolis Mavrommatis embraced the idea and took on the responsibility of convincing their colleagues to work with the institute, which will also have an educational character.