One of the first actions of the new Europa Nostra Heritage Hub, founded yesterday in the Athens, will be to stop the “desertification” of the historic city center by its permanent residents.
The newly established Pan-European Cultural Heritage Center will conduct a study of best practices in European cities to revitalize their historic centers and enhance housing for local residents. Many European cities face the same problems as Athens, namely the lack of green public space, the abandonment of entire buildings and apartment blocks, high levels of pollution, the overcrowding of cafes and restaurants, and the conversion of urban centers into tourist “parks,” all resulting in their degradation. Priority for the new hub of Europa Nostra in Athens will be the promotion of housing in the center of Athens and the formulation of proposals for the utilization of old and abandoned buildings.
The coordination and management of the new hub for Greece and the wider region of southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean has been undertaken by the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET). “I believe that the hub will give us the opportunity to study good practices from other European countries and to promote them in the participating countries across the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean. I also believe that we will learn a lot and look forward to the ideas that will come from these countries,” noted the president of ELLET Lydia Karra.
The role of the hub will be to raise awareness and mobilize citizens and institutions for the protection of the cultural heritage in the cooperating countries.
In addition to the study on housing enhancement, the objectives of the new initiative also include the extension of ELLET’s “Greek Paths of Culture” program to neighboring countries, the involvement of the younger generation in the field of cultural heritage, and the development of an “SOS” program for Heritage at risk, based on the experience of ELLET, which has carried out more than 50 years of action in the field of awareness for the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.
Second in Europe
The heritage hub in Athens is the second founded by Europa Nostra in Europe. The first was created in Krakow, Poland in early May and covers central and northeast Europe.
The announcement of the establishment of the cultural center was attended by the general secretary of Europa Nostra, Sneska Kuandvlig Mikhailovic, and the mayor of Athens Costas Bakogiannis.
“Athens is a natural ‘laboratory’ when we talk about culture, nature, peace and democracy. By launching this strategic partnership between ELLET and Europa Nostra, we are giving additional impetus to these comparative advantages,” noted Mr. Bakoyannis.
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.