Restoration work on the earthquake-damaged Athens Cathedral is to take place over the next three years, following a decision by the Culture Ministry this week. The ministry’s Central Archaeological Council approved an extensive program that will cost 800 million drachmas and, according to one of the council members, ideally ought to start immediately. The cathedral, built between 1842-62 in accordance with a number of plans by four successive architects, developed extensive cracks and structural damage following the September 1999 Athens earthquake. It had already been due for repairs after the 1981 earthquake, but these never materialized. Despite its battered state, the building has remained open to worshipers over the past 27 months. Its precarious state was one of the main concerns of Athens Metro builders tunneling from Syntagma to Monastiraki stations.