Important ancient and artistic finds at former royal estate

Speaking to reporters earlier this week following a presentation, at the former royal estate at Tatoi, of four containers full of items that were thought to have been lost, Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said: «I belong to a generation of politicians who feel entirely indifferent about the issue of monarchy. I have no fixations nor any guilt. I can understand why Tatoi must be developed into a cultural center.» Culture Ministry conservators have already begun work. Little has changed, but it is clear that some tidying up has been done, as highlighted by the discovery of works of art that had previously been written off as lost. The works include paintings by Constantinos Volanakis, Nikolaos Gyzis and Ioannis Altamoura, as well as a variety of antiquities. In recent months, officials of the Ephorate of Antiquity Sales and Private Collections have discovered a total of 201 ancient items inside the royal estate’s stables. They represent about 95 percent of items that had been published in the state gazette in 1973, and 38 of 39 items from a list released in 1991. Just one item, a clay statuette of a child, remains missing. Officials said it would eventually be found. The general belief of the Culture Ministry’s 20-member team of specialists assigned to work at Tatoi is that more discoveries will be made. «We must search the estate more thoroughly,» said Dimitris Kazianis, an archaeologist, who noted that the items found so far were well packaged and in good condition. However, this is not the case for the books, rugs and traditional costumes found in basement storage space, which required some preservation work and a more appropriate environment. The culture minister said he envisages the former estate as a cultural site that will be open to the public. Voulgarakis believes the project will create new jobs and lead to the establishment of a new museum. He did not make it clear whether it would remain a state-run venture or not. «This is not within the scope of my portfolio,» remarked Voulgarakis. No references to time frames were made during the minister’s presentation, which sounded not unlike an electoral speech. But Voulgarakis said the prospect of the public being able to visit the estate’s main palace in five years was a realistic one. Immediate needs at this early stage of development include the establishment of an appropriately supported division for the preservation of paintings and contemporary items of historical and artistic significance. This would greatly assist work – analysis and preservation – on the 1,300 or so items found so far. Objects of particular interest will be passed on to the Central Council for Contemporary Monuments (KSMN) for identification. The objects found include cardboard boxes containing shells and vessels from excavations in locations such as Dekelia and Menidi. The total number of artworks is 326 plus one sculpture. The budget for work at the former royal estate at Tatoi currently stands at 2.5 million euros. Some of the funds were allocated for emergency work on dilapidated buildings and their foundations, while 800,000 euros have been earmarked for general repairs of the main palace. «A systematic and serious assessment is being made,» Voulgarakis asserted. However, the work being done will only bear fruit if there is continuous progress and lasting support.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.