Interventions being carried out at present are the structural restoration of the north colonnade of the Parthenon, the restoration of the central building of the Propylaia and the anastelosis of the temple of Athena Nike. In addition, surface conservation is being carried out on all the monuments, including the Erechtheion.
The Acropolis monuments have suffered considerable damage with the passage of time. It is well known that the greatest destruction is owing to the activities and deeds of men rather than to natural forces. Wars, explosions, bombardments, fires, vandalism and also interventions and alterations for the purpose of changing the use of the monuments have all caused inestimable catastrophe. Among the catastrophes wrought by human hands is the removal of the sculpture and other architectural members of the Acropolis monuments by Lord Elgin. This not only denuded the monuments, but it brought on additional damage such as the sawing of the frieze blocks of the Parthenon in order to reduce their weight for ease of transport.
Displayed in the British Museum are only those surface parts with sculpture in relief, whereas the rear sections that were removed by sawing remain in the Acropolis, witness to this total lack of respect. The greatest destruction, however, was caused by the fact that Elgin, in his effort to take down the sculpture from the Parthenon, removed the cornice blocks (the architectural members above the sculptured decoration) from the monument so that it remained uncovered and open to the eroding elements of nature.
In more recent times, moreover, the damage was compounded, again by people, with their misguided efforts to restore the monuments. The chief problems to be faced today on the Acropolis are due to choices made in the restoration of Nikolaos Balanos during the years 1899-1939. Particularly damaging was the rusting out of the iron reinforcements that had been incorporated in the architectural members, which caused fragments to fracture and fall to the ground. It was in order to cope with this problem that the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments was established in 1975.
The works on the Acropolis began and are continuing as rescue operations in parts of the monuments that have serious structural problems. Included in these rescue interventions are:
- Restoration of broken members of the monuments and consolidation of areas that have a reduced static efficiency.
- Correction of wrongly joined pieces and of pieces that were incorrectly set in the earlier restorations.
- Reincorporation in the monuments of ancient pieces scattered on the rock but clearly belonging, that had been left outside the monuments during previous restorations. The resetting of these members constitutes the best way to preserve them. It also helps to increase the static efficiency of the monuments, and is thus in itself a rescue operation. In addition, resetting the members in the monuments helps to make the buildings more comprehensible to the general public and to indicate their inherent values.
- Surface conservation of the monuments.
The monuments of the Acropolis, as we know, are built of separate blocks of marble as dry masonry, that is, without the use of mortar. This method of building makes it easier for us to resolve the problems encountered, by means of the following procedure:
- Dismantling: The sections of the monuments that show problems are dismantled.
- Structural restoration: The dismantled members are restored on the ground. The rusted metal reinforcements are removed. The fragments of the members are joined together.
- Filling in with new marble: Wherever considered necessary, the missing sections of the members are supplemented with new Pentelic marble so as to regain their original structural efficiency.
- The members receive surface conservation on the ground: Surface conservation is carried out simultaneously with structural restoration of the dismantled members, using inorganic materials, reversible and with demonstrated endurance over time.
- The conserved members are set again in the monuments.
The main link for informing the public is the Service’s Website. In addition to information given on the Site, the Service publishes a yearly Newsletter, which can be found on the Service’s Site on the page Newsletter (The Acropolis Restoration News). It also organizes frequent events and lectures for the general public and for the scholarly public. The programme of events is announced on the site page NEWS – EVENTS.
For informing the public, in addition, the Service will soon have the following:
- A hall with Virtual Theatre in the New Acropolis Museum, in which will be shown, among other things, stereoscopic and simple projections of films on the history of the restoration of the Acropolis Monuments.
- Digital library (e-library)
- Digital learning (e-learning)
- A forum on the website where the general and scholarly public can converse, exchange opinions and be informed about anything connected with the Acropolis monuments and the works of restoration.
- Digital information stations (infokiosks) within the archaeological site of the Acropolis.
There are two reasons why it is not permissible to enter the interiors of the monuments:
- in order to protect the monuments from the additional weight that would be inflicted by the presence and circulation of visitors,
- for reasons of safety, since interventions are being carried out on the monuments.
How may one obtain permission to photograph or make motion pictures in the interiors of the monuments?
Those interested may apply to the 1st Ephorate of Antiquities (A’ EFA), Makryyianni 2-4, Athens and to the Acropolis Restoration Service. When the application has been reviewed, the applicant will be notified as to the relevant decision.
The materials used in restoration must be harmless and compatible with the ancient materials, so as not to cause, in themselves, future problems. Titanium, a metal of great endurance unaffected by oxidation, is employed for reinforcing the joined fragments of broken members. Inorganic materials of demonstrated endurance are employed for joining the fragments and conserving the surface of the members. For supplementing the architectural members, marble from the Dionysos-Penteli quarries is used.
Today 161 people are employed in the works on the Acropolis (engineers of practically all specialties, archaeologists, conservators, draftsmen, specialized marble technicians, technical assistants and administrative personnel). The personnel of the Acropolis works are highly specialized, experienced in carrying out works of restoration, experience that will be valuable in the future for restoring other monuments of our country.
Special projects have been designed about the Acropolis and its monuments. These programmes were originally designed for school pupils as open day programmes. At the same time tactical programmes for pupils are organised on a daily basis in the Acropolis Museum.
The Seminar for Teachers is addressed to educators from all school levels and provides information on the educational programs offered by the Acropolis Museum. The seminar outlines a proposed tour that teachers can follow when accompanying students during a school visit.
Is it necessary for the educator to arrange beforehand in order to visit the Acropolis and the Museum and to guide the children himself?
It is necessary to telephone beforehand to the Office of the Head Guard – (210 3210219).
By browsing the Acropolis Educational Resources Repository, you can find educational resources produced by our Department in order to enrich classroom teaching and your visits to the Archaeological Site and the Museum.
The educational kits are the following:
- “Ancient Greek Musical Instruments”
- “Ancient Greek Dress”
- “The Parthenon Frieze”
- “Let’s Go to the Acropolis”
- “A Greek Temple”
- “The Twelve Olympian Gods”
- “Acropolis and Restoration”
- “The Art of Stone Sculpture”