City’s industrial heritage bites the dust, again

Yet another piece of Athens’s industrial heritage has gone. The former Anatoliki carpet factory in Nea Ionia, built in 1923 on an 0.8-hectare plot, was closely linked to the local community of Asia Minor refugees. Despite the coordinated efforts of citizens’ groups and organizations (including the Hellenic Society for the Preservation of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage) to save it, the Anatoliki complex has been demolished. The Culture Ministry decided in 2003 that the dilapidated buildings had lost their value and agreed to their demolition, thus meeting a long-standing demand of Nea Ionia’s municipal authorities to free up the space for the construction of an underground car park. Nea Ionia, one of Athens’s first working class and industrial neighborhoods, is rapidly turning into a city with no identity or historical memory. Since its demolition, the Anatoliki factory (which later housed the Aphrodite company’s Greek Silk Factory for many years) has come to symbolize the clash between two views of social history and urban development. Archaeologist Olga Dakoura-Voyiatzoglou, who fought to save the factory, claims that «so far no politician has sought out the identity, the face of Nea Ionia,» which «has been reduced to a ghost town known only as a name on the map of the city.» She sees the factory site as an arena where «two different viewpoints that judge by different criteria clash.» Although this fight to save collective memory was lost, the case is indicative of many others which have taken on the dimension of ideological disputes. Local government’s often pragmatic approach, which is to find direct ways out of problems created by a lack of policy, runs counter to those forces that propose long-term investment in historical memory, social cohesion and urban identity. Dakoura-Voyiatzoglou had submitted a proposal that the factory be put to use as a place of documentation and a technological museum dedicated to the textile industry «which has been faithfully served until the present day in Nea Ionia.»

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.