Treasures at risk on the streets of Athens

Vociferous opposition to the demolition of two traditional houses on Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street, below the Acropolis, took on unprecedented dimensions last year. A stroll around downtown Athens does not inspire much optimism, however. It would be a loss if the art deco masterpiece on Dionysiou Aeropagitou were to vanish overnight, but there are scores more treasures that are in immediate danger. Kathimerini has compiled a list of 10 buildings that are at risk. Not all are important for the same reasons. In some cases the architecture is of value, in others the location or history. The good news is that action has been taken to save most of them, usually by the state. The Culture Ministry recently reviewed incentives for repairing and restoring traditional and listed buildings. Now owners can get a loan of up 100,000 euros, with 50 percent of the interest subsidized by the state. What is still to come is real pressure from society. The isolated example of the campaign to save the houses on Dionysiou Aeropagitou shows we still have a long way to go. History: The interwar Sikiarideio building with neoclassical features, with a pediment and four columns that lend it an air of grandeur. The Fine Arts School bought it from Emporiki Bank. Condition: Dilapidated from age and neglect, with serious problems in doorways, windows, and ceilings. Recent static test caused minor damage. Future: The Antonakakis firm has completed a total refurbishment study. The interior of the building is to be demolished and the exterior wall preserved. The new building will house the reading room and an official reception area. Work is due to commence shortly.