Small beginnings in new look for Thebes

A small housing development has introduced modern architecture to the town of Thebes. The «Politia» development, built alongside the new town hall two years ago, comprises four buildings with a total of 32 homes and a few ground-floor stores, two pedestrian precincts and a square, giving the town a small taste of a different quality of life. «We wish the plan could be extended to other neighborhoods in Thebes, but no one has as yet taken the initiative,» said Tonia Katerini, a member of the architectural firm that designed and built the project. Modern Thebes, with about 22,000 permanent inhabitants, 7,000 immigrants, 2,500 military personnel and roughly 70 Roma families, was long overdue for a boost. «The town plan is being developed and there is scope for changing the zoning,» said Mayor Nikos Svingos. Until 1992 Thebes was surrounded by Roma tent settlements. Today the Roma have moved into container homes in the district of Pyri and are awaiting approval of home loans. One of the schools in the town has only Roma children. The town’s main pedestrian precinct on Oedipodos Street (up from the landmark statue of Epameinondas) is the liveliest part of town and a central meeting place for the townspeople. It is where most of the stores are situated and most of the town’s youth hang out. Yianna, Effi, Venetia, Fotoula and Tasoula, members of the Thebes Women’s Cooperative, have made a profession out of a hobby and now make and sell traditional products at a very attractive outlet, as well as catering for various events. At the conference center, where music and dance shows are held and, more rarely, international conferences, the cinema does not appear to attract many locals. «We often show films to an audience of just five or 10 people, in a hall that holds 300,» said the manager. Sport and music appear to be greater attractions. On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, the tennis court in the somewhat shabby district of Kontito is full. The tennis club numbers 100 members. The municipal conservatory has over 250 registered pupils. On July 30, the final of the Greek track and field Grand Prix is to be held. As for infrastructure projects, work is beginning on a waste treatment plant for 11 local municipalities. By the end of the year a senior citizens’ day center is also expected to open, which will also provide primary healthcare. Outside the town is the Moschopodi forest, the pride of locals who suffer from a dearth of parks within the city limits. The biggest project is in tourism, an extension of the archaeological museum to 10,000 square meters. «We want it to be a credit to the region and expect it to open within a few months,» said the mayor.

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