Acropolis project inches ahead

Three basic restoration programs on the Acropolis monuments are moving along on target and are expected to be completed by the end of the year, a senior official said yesterday. Haralambos Bouras, the president of the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments (YSMA), said that many attempts were made in 2005 to push ahead with improvements to the country’s most famous landmark despite new obstacles arising. «The year 2005 was one of great effort and intense work. There was some disbelief as far as the programming of the restoration work is concerned,» he said. «Once this was overcome, emphasis was put on the difficult work required on the Parthenon’s northern colonnade,» he added. The Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike and the huge Propylaea gates have suffered from decades of exposure to the notorious pollution in Athens and have suffered substantial damage due to failed restoration attempts earlier this century. However, new challenges in this massive restoration project continually come to the fore, sources said. Problems on the Acropolis’ periphery walls are creating delays, according to Bouras, who noted in YSMA’s annual report that «it is a complicated project because a large part of the ancient walls have been covered by a second wall built after 1715 while another part had collapsed and has since been rebuilt.» Other outstanding matters still to be addressed include the inscriptions which remain in the open air, as no plans have been finalized as to where they are to be moved and protected. Additionally, work on the Temple of Athena Nike is proving to be very time-consuming as two extra restoration techniques have now been called for. The overall Acropolis restoration – which includes work on the Parthenon and Athena Nike temples – is expected to finish in 2020 at a cost of about 70 million euros.