The New-Ancient Great White Way

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

New lighting bathes Acropolis in ethereal white glow

That Acropolis is no slouch: the goddess Athena in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Culture and Onassis Foundation ensured that the Sacred Rock would greet October with a new fall coat more spectacular than anything to come off of a Paris catwalk. Under a harvest moon and in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Minister of Culture and Sport Lina Mendoni and the President of the Onassis Foundation, Anthony Papadimitriou, the switches went on Wednesday evening on Sept. 30.

Said Kathimerini's Nikos Vatopoulos, author of Walking in Athens, "In terms of aesthetics, the new lighting design casts the monuments on the sacred rock in a play of shadows on what appears to be a stark white canvas so that the Acropolis emerges as though unaffected by the density of urban life around it, untouched and autonomous. It excites the senses and evokes a sense of awe and superiority. It creates the sense that the Acropolis is Athens, but also something much bigger than that; it is a monument that evokes utopia and a sense of the almost imaginary."

In other words, it's quietly, quietly quite a nightly show 490 feet above the urban fray.

The following information comes from the website

This is the first of a series of projects carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Sports with the aim of fully upgrading the infrastructure and services provided by the Acropolis with a donation and implementation by the Onassis Foundation.

For the first time, the lighting distinguishes the monuments of the Holy Rock from the walls, but also between them. Specifically, 9 points are re-illuminated: The Rock, the Walls, the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, the Theater of Dionysus, the Stoa of Eumenes, the Dionysian Sanctuary. The study of the lighting includes five more monuments, which are illuminated for the first time: The monument of Thrasyllos, the Sponsors' Columns, the Asclepieion and the caves of Apollo and Aglavros / Hourglass, as well as the Sanctuary of Aphrodite.

The study for the lighting of the Acropolis was not limited to the aesthetic part, but includes the significant upgrade of the existing infrastructure with the modernization of the electrical installation and the automation and control system of the luminaires. Highlights the whole of the Sacred Rock, the Walls, the volume and the geometry of each monument, from every possible point of view. The marbles, whiter than ever, reflect every aspect, every geometric shape, every natural material, emphasizing the relief of the decoration of each monument.

As stated by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni, "The main concern of assuming our duties at the Ministry of Culture and Sports was to upgrade the infrastructure and services provided on the Acropolis of Athens. The image of the Acropolis, our top monument, reflects and emits the image of the country. Good luck wanted our goal to be adopted by the Onassis Foundation, which kindly offered to undertake the significant sponsorship of a series of projects. The most important are the lighting of the Holy Rock and the monuments of the Acropolis, as well as the construction and installation of the slope lift, an innovative and extremely complex project, in order to ensure accessibility to the archaeological site with absolute safety, not only for the disabled, but for all those who have difficulty in approaching the Acropolis and its monuments.

In the midst of the pandemic, it is very important for Athens to be able to offer its inhabitants and visitors, but also everywhere on the planet, a new, upgraded image of the Holy Rock. With the new lighting, the Rock, the Walls, the Parthenon and the other monuments are highlighted, as well as their surrounding area. The third dimension is emphasized through the differentiation of intensities and the shade, while the new luminaires are environmentally friendly, offering significant energy savings. I am happy that the partnership of the State with the private sector can offer in our country in a short time standard and innovative projects, which contribute to the upgrading of the international image of Greece."

The President of the Onassis Foundation, Antonis S. Papadimitriou, points out that "For us at the Onassis Foundation it was a fulfillment of a duty to respond to the invitation of the State to assist in the redesign of the lighting of the Acropolis of Athens, illuminating the immortal space. The truth of Democracy and the value of human rights had to be illuminated symbolically. Today, more than ever, we need to see the Parthenon again as citizens of the world, brighter, more visible and more comforting than ever. In the dark times we are facing, in the pandemic crisis that threatens to trap us, light seems to be the strongest symbolism. "

Acropolis photos: Costas Filippakis

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