December 22, 2005

Acropolis restoration almost complete

Posted at 1:35 pm in Acropolis

Within a year’s time, all urgent repairs to the Acropolis monuments will be complete. There will still be a lot of additional restoration work, but the remaining tasks will be less critical to ensuring the survival of the site in its current state.

The Guardian

Decades-Long Acropolis Rehab Nearly Done
Wednesday December 21, 2005 4:01 PM
Associated Press Writer

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Thirty years into a massive project to restore the 2,500-year-old Acropolis monuments, the end is at last in sight, Culture Ministry officials announced Wednesday.

All “urgent repairs” to the marble monuments – built at the height of ancient Athenian glory in the 5th century B.C. – will be completed in a year’s time, architect Haralambos Bouras told a press conference. And from 2009, he said, conservationists will be free to tackle less pressing projects on the walled Acropolis hill.

“The works that will be finished by next Christmas will complete the rescue process on the Acropolis,” the senior project official said.

This involves extensive repairs to the main Parthenon and Athena Nike temples, as well as the massive Propylaea gate. All three suffered from decades of exposure to Athens pollution, and were badly damaged by botched restoration in the 1930s – which used iron clamps that rusted, cracking the marble.

With the Athena Nike temple, an elegant Ionic structure at the entrance to the citadel, the whole building had to be taken down piece by piece, in a restoration program that started in 2000.

“We have removed the old iron, we have seen to the cracks,” Bouras said. “From then on, all the rest will be to improve the visual aspect of the monuments. What we really have to do will be finished in three years from 2006, at the latest. All the rest is secondary.”

This will include repairs to the Acropolis fortification walls – which date back to Mycenaean times, in the 13th century B.C. – and lesser work on the temples.

Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said $16.6 million has been budgeted for repairs in 2005 and 2006, while work will be speeded up to ensure scaffolding currently shrouding the monuments is removed.

“We want to have as little scaffolding up as possible, as this creates an aesthetic problem,” Tatoulis said. “The visual pollution will be at a minimum.”

So far, nearly 1,000 blocks of stone have been removed from the three monuments, while 1,100 parts have been assembled from ancient fragments. Restorers use marble from Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, whose ancient quarries provided the original building material. More than 50 percent of the blocks have now been treated and put back.

The only one of the four major Acropolis monuments where restoration has been fully completed is the Erechtheion temple, finished in 1987 after eight years of work.

All secondary work is expected to finish in 2020 at a cost of an additional $83 million, according to recent forecasts, after which the hilltop will be landscaped with hundreds of tons of earth.

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