OPINION

Wiping the beauty from Athens’s face

We’ve long become accustomed to the tragic lack of green space in our capital and so it doesn’t really bother us anymore. Indeed, we have to visit other European cities to understand what is meant by a «humane natural environment» within urban areas. Most of these cities have countless parks and tree-lined streets, with every available corner adorned with flowers and shrubs and even green islands in the middle of major thoroughfares. When work began on rebuilding the capital after the Second World War and the civil war, no attention was paid to renovating damaged neoclassical and traditional homes and repairing the widespread damage sustained by years of conflict. And during the process of destroying all vestiges of character in the capital, we allowed the construction of high-rise blocks of no aesthetic value whatsoever nor respect for the style and color of pre-war Athens. Paris is an example of a European city which managed to achieve what Athens didn’t. In the French capital, most traditional buildings have been renovated and even original store signs have been restored. The city’s green spaces have been unaffected by construction work. In London, where entire blocks were destroyed during wartime bombings, British architects were obliged to reproduce entire facades of old buildings. Meanwhile, Athens remains a concrete city following the razing of most of our superb neoclassical buildings.