ICOMOS releases heritage alert regarding the Venizelos Metro Station in Thessaloniki, Greece

Construction of the metro in Thessaloniki
Construction of the metro in Thessaloniki. Image: Geraki Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

ICOMOS has released a heritage alert regarding the Venizelos Metro Station in Thessaloniki, Greece. The heritage alert is a response to plans to temporarily move archaeological finds from the construction site of the metro station.

During the construction of the metro in Thessaloniki, a major archaeological site was found in 2013 at the location of the future Venizelos Metro Station. Among the archaeological finds are the Roman marble-paved avenue Decumanus Maximus and workshops and stalls. In a letter to the Hellenic government and heritage authorities, ICOMOS calls to protect the antiquities in situ: “given the fact that this is a monumental ensemble which constitutes an integral part of the history of the city of Thessaloniki and of the world cultural heritage”.

In an attached heritage alert, ICOMOS explains:

“A Ministerial Decision issued in 2017 provided for the in situ preservation and enhancement of the whole archaeological complex, while, at the same time, the construction works for the Metro Station could proceed as scheduled. However,
based on a new Ministerial Decision issued in March 2020, the monuments complex will be detached and temporarily removed and will be placed back when the station’s construction works are completed. Recently (23/09/2020) the Central Archaeological Council approved the final technical study for the removal of the Venizelos Station antiquities and their repositioning after the completion of the metro construction works.”

ICOMOS continues:

“This is an alarming situation since the implementation of the new Ministerial Decision will lead to the fragmentation of the monument, the cancellation of its cultural value and, finally, to the loss of its authenticity, thus causing an irreversible damage to this unique and singularly significant
archaeological complex.”

The call to protect the antiquities in situ is supported by local, national and international experts and institutions. Among others, Europa Nostra released a statement in 2019 and the International Association of Byzantine Studies released a statement in 2020.

Have a look at the archaeological finds in the video below (in Greece):

Download ICOMOS’ letter to the Hellenic government and heritage authorities here and the attached heritage alert here.

Source: ICOMOS.

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