Listed buildings digitized for an online database

An online database dedicated to listed buildings and traditional settlements is in the works. Soon, members of the public will be able to find out about listed buildings in a particular area by accessing the municipality or road they are interested in. The catalog, created by the Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE), has already gone into operation on a pilot basis and will be made accessible to the public as soon as the Private Data Protection Authority (APPD) gives its approval. «It is an attempt to highlight our historical heritage and encourage citizens to seek information,» Deputy YPEHODE Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis told Kathimerini. «The database will be accessible to all, in accordance with full transparency.» The database will include the 9,587 buildings that the ministry has listed, 824 settlements that have been designated as traditional and buildings originally listed for preservation but later removed from the list. «In the past 20 months we have listed more than 100 buildings and I doubt if we have removed even one from the list,» remarked Kaloyiannis. Most in Athens The majority (2,868) of the listed buildings in Greece are in the municipality of Athens. Of those, 550 are in Plaka, 176 in Thiseion, 141 in Psyrri, 140 in Metaxourgeio and 50 in Mets. Other cities with a large number of listed buildings are Nafplion (352), Patras (329) and Ioannina (111). In the past 20 months, 47 buildings of architectural interest were listed in Iraklion, Crete. Other groups have been listed recently in Nea Smyrni (12 buildings), Metaxourgeio (six), Kypseli, Kerameikos and Aigion. At the same time, presidential decrees have been issued designating traditional settlements in the prefectures of Rethymnon and Fokida. Details of any approvals for restoration work or extensions to listed buildings are recorded in the database. In the last 20 months, the ministry has approved architectural studies for work on 70 buildings. At a later stage an effort will be made to incorporate specific historical detail about each building. «The will exists but we are not yet sure about the way,» said Kaloyiannis. Listed buildings and designated traditional settlements in Macedonia, Thrace, the Aegean islands (except for Crete) and areas managed by the ministries of Macedonia-Thrace and the Aegean do not appear in the database. A similar initiative is in process at the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, however, and the initial phase of recording listed buildings and traditional settlements in northern Greece started last year. So far the data collected indicate that there are 7,500 individual listed buildings and 1,200 traditional settlements and sites of exceptional beauty in the 16 prefectures of Macedonia and Thrace. Also absent from the database are buildings listed as monuments by the Culture Ministry (YPPO). Listing as a monument is a separate process from listing for preservation, and YPPO’s criterion is the historical-cultural significance of the building, due to its use or occupants. One wonders why YPEHODE, YPPO and the ministries of Macedonia-Thrace and the Aegean did not collaborate to create a joint database. The new database has hit a snag at APPD. «The authority is investigating whether publishing the name of the owner complies with existing regulations,» said Kaloyiannis. «In my view it is not an issue, given that each listing is made by a ministerial decision published in the Government Gazette. So the details of the owner or owners of a listed building are already available to the public.» As for the incentives given to restore and use a listed building, the deputy minister defends the state’s contribution while admitting its inadequacy. «I think that the state gives considerable incentives, such as change of use under certain conditions. Perhaps there should be more financial and economic incentives – for example, easier or more long-term loans for repairs. But in many cases, buildings are abandoned due to the existence of several owners and failure to agree, not to the lack of support measures.»

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