Greek Culture Ministry Replies to French Newspaper Article on Acropolis Walkways

ATHENS — The culture ministry on Friday released an open letter in which it replied to an article in the French newspaper "Liberation" that criticised the new cement walkways on the Athens Acropolis. The letter responded to what it called "inaccurate information" in the article by Fabien Perrier, entitiled "L'Acropole, beauté bétonnée et défigurée."

"When Mr. Perrier effortlessly and too easily states his personal opinion that the Acropolis is in danger of being ruined for ever, he must be in a position to support this," the letter said.

According to the ministry, the article's criticism of the new concrete paths conceals the fact that these replaced previous cement paths laid in 1977, 2004 and 2014 "on the Panathinaion road with new ones made of architectural concrete and the maintenance of the existing pathways, which had been outstanding since 2018."

It also criticised the article's failure to seek the opinion of expert conservationists in charge of the Acropolis, noting that their work was recognised worldwide, and for not properly checking the credibility of its sources.

The ministry pointed out that all works on the Acropolis have been the responsibility of a committee of experts in the management, maintenance and restoration of ancient monuments for the last four decades, which published detailed scientific studies on its planned interventions that were then also submitted to the Central Archaeological Council for approval.

It also pointed out that the works made the monument fully accessible to all visitors, while refuting the claim that the paths were made with reinforced concrete, except in a very few, "critical positions" and in a way that made them fully reversible.

The ministry further refuted claims that works started in October 2020, just ahead of lockdown, pointing out that the discussion and approval took place between April and July 2020, and also the claim that heavy machinery was used and had damaged the site.

The ministry letter responded to 10 claims made by the article in total, disputing their accuracy, among them questions over the way the contractor was chosen, that the new paths had been responsible for extensive flooding, that the aim was to increase the throughput of visitors or that it should have first informed UNESCO.

"In any case, we inform you that an international conference has already been planned in the autumn to which UNESCO experts have been invited and have already accepted the invitation. We are at your disposal for further clarifications," the letter concluded.


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