FOTOGRAFIA: Fountain of Shame

ATHENS – The first iconic picture for many tourists in Greece is the main fountain in Syntagma Square – and it’s not a welcoming site. The marble fountain is dirty, unmaintained, full of often-filthy water with debris and has what purports to be a spout shooting water.

It’s little more than a giant dog bowl but no Mayor of Athens has done much about it, leaving visitors to see what’s supposed to be a centerpiece just a shame.

It’s also been a source of ammunition by protesters who broke off chunks to hurl at riot police during 3 ½ years of riots against austerity measures being imposed by the government on the orders of international lenders.

Workers now have fortunately encircled it with a fence to repair damage but when the restoration is done you can bet it will still look pretty much the same, only repaired. In the country that really created the greatest public art there is little of it.

Because of the municipality’s financial problems, the square’s restoration is sponsored by the owner of two luxury hotels overlooking Syntagma, with the first phase of the renovation scheduled for completion before Christmas and a landscaping project to start in early 2014. Then it will go unmaintained again and torn up in the next riot.