Greek economic crisis hurts conservation workers

When Greek Minister of Culture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos visited the Acropolis in Athens last week, he was met by a hundred booing employees.

The heritage workers are contracted professionals who are protesting late wages and planned firings. Some haven’t been paid in 16 months and many worry their contracts won’t be renewed next year.

Greece is undergoing a serious financial crisis and struggles under a huge national debt. It recently received a 110 billion euro ($136 billion) bailout from other European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund. The first installment came just in time to keep Greece from defaulting on its latest debt repayment.

Mr. Geroulanos promised action on the overdue pay.

The workers are some of the many government workers who don’t have a full-time job, but rather work on a contract basis. It is unclear how many will be fired because of the crisis, but the long restoration project at the Acropolis will continue, a third of it with EU funding.

Questions are also arising over archaeological and restoration projects all over the country. Sixteen percent of Greece’s GDP comes from tourism, yet serious cuts will have to be made in government spending to stabilize the economy. Greek’s current national debt is 115% of its GDP.

Image courtesy Thermos via Wikimedia Commons.

Theater of Dionysus to be restored at the Acropolis

The Theater of Dionysus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, will undergo a major renovation over the next six years.

This theater was sacred to the god of wine and drama and in ancient times hosted the annual Dionysia, a festival in his honor. The festival included a competition for playwrights and the winners are a Who’s Who of Greek drama and comedy, including Sophocles, Euripides, and Philemon. Many scholars consider the Theater of Dionysus to be the birthplace of Classical theater. Plays were performed on this spot starting in the sixth century BC. The theater visible today was built in 325 BC and seated more than 14,000 people.

While the cult of Dionysus had the reputation of throwing wild orgies, it had a more serious purpose of acting as a sort of social pressure valve, allowing people to mock the rich and powerful and, on the stage at least, make dangerous political statements.

The project will cost six million euros (9 million dollars) and include a restoration of the marble seats and a strengthening of the remaining structure.

Photo of the Day (11/05/07)

Because I am in Athens this week, looking at the Acropolis from my hotel, I figured I would use a local picture.

Noamgalai took this great reflection shot in May. The Acropolis is another one of those world sites photographed millions of times, yet this is a new, creative way of seeing it.

***To have your photo considered for the Gadling Photo of the Day, go over to the Gadling Flickr site and post it.***

It’s Moving Day — er, Month — at the Acropolis

I was irrationally excited for my first and thusfar only visit to the Acropolis eight years ago. A photograhy enthusiast, I was excited to get a great shot. And when I got there and scrambled up the hill to the top, what beautiful vista awaited me? Contrstruction. Yes, scaffolding, workers in yellow hats, orange fences … it was hard to find a nice shot, but I took a few snaps nonethless and vowed to get better ones on my next trip, whenever that may be.

So I can only imagine what kind of mayhem that’s been ensuing at the Acropolis lately — they’re moving, according to this article. Obviously, they’re not moving the actual Acropolis structure, but they’re moving all the artifacts from the museum next door, down the hill to a new museum that’s scheduled to open in 2008. In the meantime, expect cranes and lots of engineers on edge as they pray desparately that they don’t have to make any claims on their $568.6 million insurance policy. The move is expected to last six weeks.

Historical Building to be Demolished for View of the Acropolis

Against opposition from architects and cultural conservationists, George Voulgarakis has cleared the way for the razing of a once-protected art deco building in Athens, Greece, because the building stands in the way of a direct view of the Acropolis from the new landmark Acropolis Museum. Voulgarakis also added that demolition of the building “would allow the plot to be excavated ‘to reveal antiquities whose existence is considered highly likely.'”

The Culture Minister revoked state protection of Areopagitou 17 and 19 when the rest of the nation was focused on forest fires in the southern part of the country.

The building, standing just 300 meters from the Acropolis, was designed by Greek architect Vassilis Kouremenos, a Paris-trained friend of Pablo Picasso. Ironically, the structure was originally protected by the driving force behind the new museum, the late actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri.

Two adjacent buildings on Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street will not be automatically demolished, as they are both still protected by the Ministry of Public Works. But Voulgarakis’ decision is expected to ease the way for that listing to be revoked too.

Read the whole article here.

Thanks to Mel Kots and John Kots on Flickr for the photo of the “almost ready” Acropolis Museum.