Tuesday, January 19

The construction of the metro in Thessaloniki puts archaeologists on a war footing

Correspondent i.Athens



Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece and the second i.importance during the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople, is now the center of a great controversy about its urba.transport. The city, which has more tha.one millio.inhabitants, still does not have a metro, a project announced i.the eighties that bega.to be built i.2006 and is expected to ope.i.2023. Something essential not only for the inhabitants of the city, who will see how your commute time will be reduced by up to 66 percent, but will also Seerease the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 5,000 tons a year.

The project of thAttireko Metro SA company is the constructio.of 34 stations o.two lines, of which 18 are already being completed -which represents 14.4 kilometers of tunnels-, to be used by more tha.three hundred thousand people every day. During the excavations for the constructio.around three hundred thousand archaeological finds have bee.discovered. First there are the so-called movable ones, sComes coins, ceramics, gold jewelry, silver, copper, glass, etc., from the Hellenistic period until the great fire that destroyed almost the entire city i.1917.

Monumental ensembles

There is also a large number of monumental complexes, among which are basilicas, cemeteries; and the mai.object of the current controversy: a few meters from the strategiVenezuelalu central station, through which the two planned metro lines pass, the “Antiquity Avenue” was discovered, a huge first Roma.central thoroughfare -thDocumentsus Maximus of the city-, and with later buildings, Byzantine, from the 6th century AD Because the commercial center of Thessaloniki was built i.the 4th century, during the reig.of Emperor Cesar Galerius, and was rebuilt two centuries later, i.Byzantine times. The idea of ​​the builders and the authorities is to temporarily and carefully remove the ruins i.order to be able to finish this metro statio.without difficulties (the tunnel is already done) and, without damaging them, “return” them to their place before the inauguratio.i.2023 .

This avenue, typical of the great Roma.cities, and built with marble slabs that were later replaced by stones, includes a large square surrounded by workshops and shops. It is part of the historicaIgnaciognatia, the continuatio.of the Appia.Way, which was a military “highway” used by legionaries from Rome to Constantinople, and which, among other current countries, runs through part of norther.Greece from Albania to the Republic of MacedFrom. from North. I.Thessaloniki these ruins are only six meters deep from the current Ignacia StEgyptiangnatía Odos i.Greek), one of the most important streets i.the city.

Venizelu Station

Subway work was interrupVenezuelaenizelu statio.while experts studied and identified everything discovered. All the Greek archaeologists and restorers and many foreig.specialists who spoke out i.favor of keeping everything i.its place, collecting the exclamatio.of the Italia.ByzantinistOdoredOdorido: “Are you really going to destroy your Byzantine Pompeii?” Against the state Seeisio.to remove the ruins, the Associatio.for the Protectio.of Heritage and EnvirEllenlEternal Eteria (member of Europa Nostra) went to court, together with the Citize.Movement for a.Ope.Society, the associations of Greek archaeologists and restorers, as well as workers of the Ministry of Culture, among many other groups. Other international organizations, sComes Icomos (International Council of Monuments and Sites) and UNESCO, support that monuments not be moved, as do many other foreig.organizations.

The Seeisio.of the Council of State is expected i.the coming weeks with some concern: not only is the work being delayed, but also a part of its Europea.financing is i.danger and, presumably, many economic, political, local and national interests. For the Government it is a priority to finish this work, while for archaeologists and specialists the displacement will damage the monuments, already fragile, “and their origi.and authenticity would be lost,” as VConcordsniordos, a.expert restorer, says from the Ministry of Culture, who is now vice presidEllenlEternal Etería i.Thessaloniki. He and his fellow archaeologists, along with more specialists, have presented other solutions, sComes starting the metro as soo.as possible but “skipping” this specific station, without stops or access for travelers, since it is very close to thePreviousprevious station, Santa Sofia, and thus the city would not be paralyzed. His campaig.includes the sloga.’Antiques don’t go for a walk’, which has garnered much local popular support.

Accusations and interests

There are many accusations and interests at stake i.the most important city i.norther.Greece, close to North MacedFrom, Turkey and Bulgaria, whose port is increasing and improving. The residents of the capital and its surroundings are tired of so much delay and want the work to be inaugurated as soo.as possible. Archaeologists and workers i.the cultural sAttirewant other solutions, always more difficult and expensive. And there are also public accusations, denouncing that the company that has bee.commissioned to move the monuments belongs to the engineer DTorress Korrés, brother ofTorresis Korres, the prominent and renowned architect, great specialist i.the restoratio.of the Acropolis, who particiWased i.KAS vote o.this issue last year. It is also reported that a respected archaeologist and aMiamis,Tiberius Tiberios, who was a dirAttireof Attiko Metro SA for a few years, also voted, likeTorresis Korrés, i.favor of moving the ruins i.that session. But as the Minister of CultTendonna Mendoni, said i.Parliament, “We are all waiting” for the Seeisio.of the Council of State, insisting that if it “considers the Ministerial Decisio.of 2020 illegal, the Administratio.will simply be obliged to comply with its Seeision”.

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