Greece’s ancient treasures fall victim to €300bn debt crisis

Plato’s Academy and the Acropolis are among the historic sites lying desolate and neglected

Helena Smith in Athens
Guardian [UK]
26 February 2010

It was the world’s first university, where Plato taught, Aristotle studied and philosophy was born. But today it is hard to believe this is one of the Greek capital’s most prized treasures; Plato’s Academy is so run down it is not even signposted.

“We haven’t managed to save the €7,000 [£4,500/$6,859] such a sign would require,” says Nikoletta Divari Vilakou, the archaeologist in charge. “And that’s because of the economic problems.”

The crisis that has gripped Greece, rocked markets and rattled Europe’s single currency, is now enveloping the country’s cultural heritage. The seat of learning, founded on property the philosopher inherited in 387BC, is not alone. This year, antiquities beneath the Acropolis stood under tangled weeds, testimony to the inability of overstretched culture ministry staff to clean and prune them.

Nationwide, some of Greece’s greatest glories have been closed to public viewing as museums, castle and antiquities have shut down. More sites are set to be closed and excavations delayed as the crisis worsens. Like the desolate tourist shops alongside them, the ancient sites are devoid of holidaymakers, symbolic of the recession engulfing the nation.

The article continues at the Guardian.

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