Story at a glance:
- The Acropolis’ Parthenon is now more wheelchair friendly.
- More than 3,500 signed a petition against the new pathway.
- The pathways can be removed easily, but they make visiting safer.
An ancient Greek citadel is becoming more accessible to tourists who use wheelchairs, but the changes do not sit well with some.
The Acropolis is Greece's most popular attraction, making it fitting that it receives an accessible wheelchair pathway to accommodate those living with a disability, Xinhua Net reported.
"The image of the Acropolis is the image of the country," Greek Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni said. "A monument, which is a symbol of the western civilization, becomes accessible to all. I have seen people in wheelchairs during their visit for the first time and they were so happy."
With about 3.5 million tourists who visited Greece to see the Acropolis before COVID-19 hit, a new track of concrete has been laid on top of the ancient interior stone.
It is worth noting that the new concrete is “reversible,” said Manolis Korres, architect in charge of the Parthenon’s restoration, The Guardian reported. The new concrete pathway is laid over a synthetic membrane, making it easy to remove.
While people like Mendoni are satisfied, others are not happy with the alteration, and more than 3,500 signatories on the online activist network Avaaz demand the removal of the new pathway and the cancellation of any additional work, The Guardian reported.
“It’s as if the Parthenon itself has been lowered to street level and surrounded by a cement pavement,” Despoina Koutsoumba, president of the Association of Greek archaeologists, said. “There has been a great deal of pressure, especially from the cruise industry, to increase visitor capacity so that even larger crowds can be accommodated.”
On the plus side, the new pathway should reduce the risk of visitors falling. It has been recorded that about 150 people each year get injured negotiating the outcrop’s slippery limestone surface, with Mendoni saying, “Many break legs. Each incident is recorded in the site’s logbooks. Whatever you do on the Acropolis ignites debate. If you don’t do anything, you’re criticised; if you do, you’re criticised.”
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