Syntagma revamped

The new tramway isn’t the only sight worth seeing on Amalias Avenue. Hundreds of Athenians stop and stare at the expanse opposite the Monument to the Unknown Soldier to see the revamped Syntagma Square. The area has not been handed over to the public as the final work will be completed in the next few days. But that doesn’t stop many of them from taking a peek at the refurbished square. A first, hasty glance reveals that things have altered since work began in January. The new look injected by the bright white marble paving stones is not the only change. The new Syntagma Square is full of small details that make a difference. For a start, it is a little bit larger. The extra square meters on the lower side overlooking Ermou Street have allowed the architects (Dimitris Manikas, Theodora Papadimitriou and Leonidas Georgiadis) to reorganize the space in a more rational fashion. Now the central section between the fountain and the trees on the lower side is larger than in the past, which enhances the feeling of a square and dispels the sense of congestion that used to come from passengers constantly going to and from the metro. The changes have not been to the detriment of the greenery, which has been added to. On both sides of the square (Othonos and Vas. Georgiou I streets) two small waterfalls that more or less follow the gradient of the square are under construction. Syntagma will become a meeting place once more, as it has been for most of its history, though not the past two decades. Within weeks, outdoor cafes will open up on both sides of the square. In sharp contrast to the shiny new square, the miserable-looking sidewalks on the lower side (facing Ermou) are a disgrace to the Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens company (which is responsible for refurbishing the square) and the Municipality of Athens. The task of sprucing them up, which in our view is a top priority, has been postponed till after the Olympic Games.