Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Acropolis -- Work Moves Along -- sort of...

I was interested to see a press release from the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments noting that the main part of the renovation work will be completed by 2009, ending a 34 year restoration program.

According to Haralambos Bouras, president of the project, "The lengthy procedure has involved extensive repairs to the main Parthenon and Athena Nike temples as well as the huge Propylaea gate. All three suffered from decades of exposure to the notorious pollution in Athens and suffered substantial damage because of failed restoration attempts earlier this century."

Well, I recently visited the Acropolis in Athens and it is a mess! I was so sad to see that the charming Nike temple was not just "extensively repaired," it was gone! I still have a picture of my kids when they were in their teens, in front of that temple and I was so disappointed to see that it has been taken down completely. There's scaffolding on the Parthenon so its pretty hard to visualize its glory. And as the press release said, "the only one of the four major Acropolis monuments where restoration has been fully completed is the Erechtheion temple." Although I've visited several times over the years, it always had scaffolding on it so that was a treat.

Of course, it didn't help that I was there on a bitterly cold day (November 21) and it was not only raining but there was lightening and thunder. Dramatic for a dramatic place and pretty slippery.

We were lucky in Connecticut as earlier this year the chief architect visited Fairfield University with the drawings of what the completed project will look like. You too can see that exhibit if you go to Athens at the Gournaropoulou Museum in Zografou, Athens. And don't miss the National Museum that has been updated and freshened since I was there last. It's lovely and Schliemann's gold looks terrific!

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