Archaeological Council Bars Acropolis View-Blocking Building

FILE - The sun rises behind Propylaea, the monumental gate of the ancient Acropolis hill, left, and the 2500 BC Parhenon temple in Athens, on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Reversing itself, the board of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) now will not allow construction of a nine-story building near the Acropolis because it would blow the view, the move coming after residents were able to get a moratorium on high-rises.

recalled its decision to allow a construction company to erect a new nine-floor building near the Acropolis, saying it would obstruct the view of the Acropolis Hill.

The decision followed a KAS inspection of the property on the corner of Misaraliotou and Karatasi Streets in the central Athens district of Koukaki on March 4, when it was found that the building (about 32 meters high) is not in harmony with the buildings in the area, said Kathimerini.

There was no explanation why the council, charged with making sure as well there aren’t key archaeological reasons for barring or stopping construction or renovation, didn’t know the building would block the view because it was so tall.

KAS had approved the construction on September 25, 2018 before growing protests led to the cessation of view-blocking buildings in an area which has become predominantly taken over by short-term rentals like Airbnb. There was no explanation whether the new buildings were designed for that use or residential rentals or sales.

The same residents are also protesting against and the legality of a recently constructed 10-floor hotel on Falirou Street but didn’t say what could be done about it other than having it taken down. In February, the Environment Ministry suspended all building licenses in the area around the Acropolis.

Hearing cries from residents around the Acropolis who said new buildings were getting so high they blocked the ancient view, new construction licenses are being suspended for a year for new works and additions that would be more than 17.5 meters (57.4 feet high).

Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis ordered the temporary suspension n the areas of Athens just to the south of the Acropolis – Makrygianni and Koukaki, said Kathimerini. The neighborhood has already seen mass conversions of rental units to short-term rentals for sites like Airbnb, driving up rents and driving out residents.

The decision was taken after increasing calls for the the government to amend new zoning regulations that threaten to cover the Greek capital’s skyline with tall buildings that obstruct views of the Acropolis with no word whether the new buildings were designed for purchase, rentals or short-term rentals.

Residents of the neighborhood were trying to stop construction of 10-story buildings around the hill that will shut them out of a look at Greece’s most cherished site.

The Hellenic Society of Environment and Culture, the Friends of Athens Society and 11 residents appealed to the country’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, challenging a decision by Culture Minister Myrsini Zorba in October 2018 which okayed the building of another high-rise on Misaraliotou Street.

The appeal challenges existing legal framework and amendments over the last four decades that apply in the Makrygianni neighborhood on the southern side of the Acropolis, the paper said.