Acropolis’s status on the skyline is under threat

A new 32-meter-high, nine-story apartment building, which received building permission in 2001, will be erected right below Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, just a stone’s throw from the Acropolis. The plot of land is at the junction of 8 Missaraliotou Street and Tsami Karatasou, and is not subject to architectural restrictions because it lies a few meters away from a restricted zone, (70 meters from the new Acropolis Museum and 50 meters from the works uniting Athens’s archaeological sites.) It is thus allowed to be 30 percent higher, which means it will block the view of the Acropolis from the south. While until recently, a building could be built to a height of six meters, the new building regulations allow for taller buildings, even in areas of historical interest. The issue has sparked opposition from ordinary members of the public, cultural organizations such as «Makriyiannis,» and the archaeological institutes of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, which are situated in the area. The new building breaks no laws. Here lies the problem, according to protesters, since it is an exception that calls for an investigation, due to its proximity to the Acropolis. Appeals to the Ministry of Culture have proved fruitless. The ministry has not come up with an initiative nor does it intend to, apparently. The issue falls within the scope of the Ministry of the Environment, Planning and Public Works (YPEHODE), and a fully documented condemnation of the project, in the form of a letter, has recently been sent to the prime minister, the ministers of culture and YPEHODE, and the mayor of Athens. The Makriyiannis association which brought the matter to light (although the Department of Architectural Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens had also issued a protest resolution last year), is asking for the height of the building to be lowered from 32 to 21 meters, so that it can be harmonized with neighboring buildings. «As a second, difficult and more expensive solution, we suggest the expropriation of an area of around 602 square meters, to be made over into an archaeological park that would be visible and accessible to visitors to the Acropolis, especially now that a significant number of archaeological finds have come to light,» they said in the letter. The signatories offered to contribute to financial compensation for owners.» An undersea quake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of the southern seaside town of Monemvasia – about 160 kilometers southeast of Athens – just before 5 a.m. yesterday. No injuries or damage were reported.