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The proposal for a third, people-friendly solution

There is another alternative, suggested by archaeologist Tassos Sideris in his postgraduate dissertation for the National Technical University of Athens and which he presented recently at a conference held by the Macedonia branch of the Technical Chamber of Greece. Addressing the issue of how to protect and highlight the hills of Philopappou, Pnyx and Nymphs, he focuses on self-protection and flexibility. He recommends a system of self-protection that involves free access to the hills, day and night, and discreet fencing of the antiquities at vulnerable points. By making citizens aware of the area’s multiple uses and designing the site in such a way as to encourage respect, he argues that the hills can be protected from man-made damage without the need for high fences and strict surveillance. The scheme would be flexible in implementation and would allow for later studies that may alter the approach. Nowhere to go Writer Marianna Koromila is incensed. She criticizes the archaeologists for being overprotective of the city’s antiquities, «just as we are of our children.» She believes the antiquities are being showcased mainly for tourists, excluding the locals who feel alienated and stuck at home. She objects to public spaces being closed off: «I know a couple who set out every morning from my neighborhood in Pangrati to take their dogs for a walk on the Pnyx, a long wonderful walk which is part of their way of life. Public spaces belong to us, not to institutions or the municipality. And we should react. If the hills of Philoppapou are designated archaeological sites, it means we’ll have to fit in with the opening hours set by the Culture Ministry. It’s a huge issue. It’s as if you’re depriving me of my city. So many people in Athens, especially the elderly and children, have nowhere to go outside their own homes.» Now, she asks, with the disappearance of old-style cafes: «Where is there for an older person to go? It’s the same for children; there are only Internet cafes, no outdoor games at all.» In her book «Maria ton Mongolon» (Maria of the Mongols, published by Patakis), Koromila describes how before the area behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus was closed off, it used to be frequented by young mothers with babies in strollers, families sunning themselves on a Sunday and a Cretan woman who used to collect snails there.