Great landmark is but a sad ruin

The enclosed site on Rigillis Street looked decent, its appearance improved by a bit of greenery on either side of the architectural remnants. But the palaestra, or wrestling school, of Aristotle’s Lyceum certainly didn’t look anything like what it should, as an accessible site in the heart of the city. When it was discovered in 1996, the news made headlines around the world. Eleven years later, the untended 1-hectare area with its temporary roofing, reflects the inconsistencies of the Culture Ministry. Rainwater flowing down from Lycabettus Hill continues to erode the archaeological site with its fragile remains. Even the 9-meter roof that was to have been constructed to protect the site has got lost somewhere in the ministry’s bureaucracy. Culture Minister Michalis Liapis asked on Wednesday where the hitch had occurred, given that the study had already been approved by the Central Archaeological Council (KAS). He got different answers from those responsible. One attributed it to the cost, another to the size of the roof and another to his predecessors. «This project must go ahead,» replied the minister, who insisted that he did not want to see piecemeal work but overall solutions. Some expressed concern that the Public Real Estate Company, which owns the land, might hand it over to the City of Athens, but the minister was adamant that the Lyceum would not be transferred. He asked the excavator, Effi Ligouri, why the site was so significant that the state should spend such a vast sum (3 million euros) on roofing it. She explained that it was one of the oldest gymnasiums in Athens and that one of the first universities in the world was established there. Liapis asked the officials concerned to take action and promised to try and have the project included in the Fourth Community Support Framework.In two months the study will go back to KAS, for the last time, one hopes.

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