Acropolis work moves along

The main part of renovation work on the Acropolis monuments will be completed by 2009, ending a 34-year restoration project aimed at saving the country’s most famous landmark, officials said yesterday. Haralambos Bouras, the president of the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments (YSMA) project, said that the restoration work that will be finished by next Christmas will complete the «urgent» rescue process on the 2,500-year-old monuments. «It (the Acropolis) will no longer be in danger,» he said. Experts will begin working on less urgent repairs in 2009, he added. The lengthy procedure has involved extensive repairs to the main Parthenon and Athena Nike temples, as well as the huge Propylaea gate. All three suffered from decades of exposure to the notorious pollution in Athens and suffered substantial damaged because of failed restoration attempts earlier this century. The step-by-step restoration program, which has lasted 30 years until now, has even been turned into an exhibition currently being shown at the Gounaropoulou Museum in Zografou, Athens. The scaffolding, however, will remain on the hill, authorities said, as external work on the monuments will continue. Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said that works being conducted on the Acropolis hill are being sped up, as is the construction of the much delayed and long-awaited Acropolis Museum. Repairs in 2005-2006 will cost 14 million euros, he said. «We will obtain whatever resources are required,» the minister added. The only one of the four major Acropolis monuments where restoration has been fully completed is the Erechtheion temple, finished in 1987 after eight years of work.