Four castles are to get a new lease of life

Showcasing fortification architecture and fortress monuments is a stated European Union priority. Projects to preserve, study, showcase and embellish castles are now being carried out in Greece as well, where this historical wealth has long languished due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Several castles have nonetheless been salvaged whole and remain symbols of the towns they dominate. Incorporated in the urban planning network, they become a centerpiece of the modern city. As the monument environment changes, though, renovation works and maintenance take on Sisyphean proportions. This issue was discussed recently at a conference titled «Castle – City Symbol: Conference on the Maintenance and Management of Castles» held in Kavala as part of the Integrated Urban Development Project for the PEP (Peripheral Investment Program) of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace which runs through 2006. Architects, archaeologists and representatives from local bodies drafted plans on how to reuse the historical monuments and explored the numerous possibilities offered by local circumstances. «The main issue as regards maintenance is that derelict monuments, sloppy construction and lack of infrastructure are far from favorable conditions for survival. Management and preservation bodies also acknowledge that monuments are not there solely for experts to study or for tourist development. Tourism undoubtedly is an effective mechanism, but can such single-dimension planning meet the demands of the people living in the cities today?» said Assistant Professor Titi Papadopoulou of Thrace University. She added that renovation works «cannot ignore that what is significant is not shutting away finds, but making sure they help shape the memory of the next generation. Aurelio Galfetti, for example, who undertook the restoration works at Castelgrande in Bellinzona, Switzerland, providing the public easier access to the monument from the foot of the rock on which it stands, argues: ‘There is no sense in restoring a castle. A castle is much more charming and imposing as a ruin rather than as a restored work. The idea of changing a defense feature into a feature of joy means that the site ceases definitively to be a castle. It simply becomes a park.’» Representatives of four cities in Greece put forward their own proposals in Kavala for the restoration and management of four Greek castles: the symbols of four cities. Yet full implementation of a management model is not only time-consuming but a colossal task and requires cooperation from everyone.