‘Barbaric act’ by Santorini mayor destroys in a single day what nature took centuries to create

An unforgivable crime was committed a few days ago on the east coast of the magical island of Santorini. The Municipality of Thera, with blatant disregard for the island’s unique environment, has demolished a series of unique natural rock formations in the area of Monolithos. These formations had been carved over centuries in the island’s volcanic ash by the wind, saltwater spray, sun and rain. Yet these examples of nature’s own artwork, created over a long period of time, will never more be seen by human eyes. Man’s intervention, in the form of a development project by the local municipality, has had dire results, leaving behind nothing of the site’s former glory. It is doubtful whether anyone will ever be called on to pay for the damage. A statement by the local mayor, Angelos Roussos, that these works of nature had to be demolished to protect the safety of passers-by, reveals the complete cynicism of a local official who arbitrarily and unilaterally, without asking for the approval of the municipal council or any other official body (which in this case is the port authority), decides and acts as he pleases. The purpose here was to open up a coastal (illegal) dirt road between the beaches of Karterados and Monolithos, obviously to attract more tourism, with an emphasis on numbers but little on quality. It is indeed a barbaric and reactionary act to put a single value, that of profit for the person «developing» it, on Santorini’s landscape. It is criminal that interference with a site that has existed as a thing of beauty for years should occur without any planning, without the attention deserved by something that should remain public property. No authority has the liberty to deprive future generations of the right to enjoy what they have inherited from their predecessors. The landscape is in itself cultural capital. If it loses that status, it is not even of economic benefit any more. The rock formations at Monolithos have been destroyed, apart from a few sections. These, at least, should be preserved at all costs.