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Society

Greek Wildfire Devastated Former Royal Estate at Tatoi (Photos)

ATHENS – Wildfires that overran huge swathes of land in Greece destroyed the biggest part of the former Royal Estate at Tatoi north of the capital, razing five buildings and thousands of acres of surrounding forest land now ashes.

Drone footage released by Kathimerini showed the aftermath of the fires in the region that also cost many people their homes during a heatwave and the COVID-19 pandemic in what has been a miserable summer in the country.

A least two containers containing valuables have been destroyed, though the content of the containers is not known and there was no official statement from the Culture Ministry, the paper said.

The estate, which contains 2,200 hectares (5,436 acres) of land, 40 listed buildings, the gardens, stables and other structures, was undergoing restoration work set to be completed by 2023. 

King George I, who was assassinated in 1913, obtained the estate during the 1880s, purchasing it with private funds he had brought from Denmark. In 1916, during World War I, the house was burned down.

In the 1920s, most of the estate was stolen from its owners, but in 1936 it was returned to King George II, who went into exile during World War II. Much of the woods there was cut down during the war for fuel. 

King George II regained possession of the estate in 1946. It passed down as private property to King Constantine II until 1994, when the royal estates were confiscated by the government of Andreas Papandreou. The King went to the European Court of Human Rights who ruled in his favor but he wasn't able to force return of the property, receiving 12 million euros ($14.07 million) in compensation, one percent of its worth.

He used the money to provide grants to needy Greeks in time of hardship caused by natural disasters – like the fires that destroyed much of the property and buildings.

In June 2007, the Government of Greece said it intended to turn the former palace and grounds into a museum but in 2012 reports said it would be sold before a group of supporters said they would try to finance its renovation.

In late 2019, the Greek Culture Ministry moved ahead with plans to finally restore the palace where plans were to have a luxury hotel and spa.

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