March 10, 2007

Bringing Greek archaeological sites up to date

Posted at 5:23 pm in Acropolis

Substantial investments are being made by Greece to equip some of the county’s most important ancient sites with hi-tech touch screen information displays that visitors can borrow to carry around the site as they explore it.

Canoe (Canada)

New gadget promises to enhance tourist experience in Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – If you have ever wandered around a dusty Greek archaeological site in midsummer, clueless about what you are seeing or where you are going, help is finally at hand. Greece’s Culture Ministry on Thursday unveiled a hand-held gadget for visitors that offers high-resolution video, detailed diagrams of sites such as ancient temples, position indicators, and imagery along with stereo sound.

The battery-powered, touchscreen devices are about the size and weight of a personal stereo – weighing just 270 grams, or 9.5 ounces. Instructions come in four languages – Greek, English, German and French.

The units will be available at 15 sites around the country including the Acropolis and National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Thessaloniki’s archaeological and Byzantine museums, Delphi, Rhodes, Olympia, Mycenae, Vergina, Epidaurus and Knossos in Crete.

“We are offering visitors one of the most technologically advanced tourist guides in Europe,” Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said at a news conference.

The cost for assembling and programming 5,000 units came to euro9.5 million.

The system, developed by Siemens and Fujitsu, will first be tested in Thessaloniki and Mycenae and should be available at all sites by summer 2008. Rental prices are yet to be determined, Voulgarakis said.

The ministry also unveiled new automated ticketing systems for 18 major tourist sites, which will cut down on waiting time for visitors.

Greece is expected to draw more than 15 million tourists this year – more than its total population of around 11 million – but its famed cultural sites have until now been slow to introduce technological support for visitors, such as the audio guides frequently used at museums abroad.

This story was posted on Fri, March 9, 2007

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