Revival of the Historic Centre of AthensThe interventions included in the project for the Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens are clearly oriented towards the elevation of the historic physiognomy of Athens. In addition, they constitute a sound effort for the ?Revival of Historical Athens?, a goal that does not simply aim at the promotion of monuments, but intends to familiarize citizens (residents and visitors) with historicity as well.
The action plan was established with the founding of the company ?Unification of Athens Archaeological Sites? S.A. in 1997 by the Hellenic Ministry of Environment, Planning and Public Works and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and involves: a) projects aiming at the enhancement of monuments within the Historic Centre of Athens, and b) interventions that reveal the historic face of Athens, within the framework that Athens is a modern, live city that incorporates its historical features to its present development.
Consequently, projects like the ?Grand Promenade? (pedestrianisation of Dionysiou Areopagitou, Apostolou Pavlou and Ermou Sts) and the enhancement of the Archaeological Sites (the Olympieion, North and South Slopes of the Acropolis), Filopappos Hill, Ancient and Roman Agora and the Kerameikos) have made it possible for a new perception of archaeological monuments, so much regarding their form, as regarding access to them. Easy and every day accessibility of monuments via the ?Grand Promenade? and accommodation of their unobstructed viewing from outside the archaeological sites, have made them more accessible to the public. ?Open? spaces have been created within the concept of an ?Open Museum?, maybe the largest one worldwide. Residents and visitors of Athens are able to fit a work through history into their every-day life.
In addition, widening of pavements (Metropoleos, Kolokotroni, Perikleous Sts etc) and small-scale pedestrianisations (Adrianou, Aeolou, Athenas Sts) have facilitated access to the Historic Centre and promenading among heritage treasures. The action plan of the company included architecture competitions and designs for the four major squares in Athens: Syntagma Sq., Omonoia Sq., Monasteraki Sq., Koumoundourou Sq.
The building heritage of the Historic Centre was elevated with the works for the restoration of facades and the removal of advertising billboards. The architectural history of Athens, that was for long problematic and unknown, has been promoted and is now presented to residents and visitors in order for them to meet this aspect of the city?s heritage.
Future interventions involved with the project for the Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens, include the continuation and completion of the aforementioned interventions: pedestrianisation of Vas. Olgas St. as part of the Grand Promenade, and enhancement and unification of the archaeological sites in Demosion Sema and Akademy of Plato, facade restoration, removal of advertising signs and billboards. Also, future projects include the signage of monuments (historical buildings, signage of use etc) within the Historic Centre. Within this program EAXA S.A. is currently competing the signage of 30 monuments from the Byzantium until modern times.
Finally, the know-how and experience acquired from this period can be passed on to other cities that may wish to implement similar politics for the revival and enhancement of their historic heritage.