For more than 2,500 years, the Acropolis has stood on a hilltop above Athens, Greece. In the past, the ancient buildings, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site, have undergone periodic restorations. But last year, the Greek cultural ministry announced plans for sweeping renovations.
The proposal calls for an overhaul of some infrastructure and monuments, like the reconstruction of a marble staircase and new cement footpaths. The footpaths, many of which have already been installed, replace uneven stone walkways that caused dozens of injuries each year. Officials say experts are making the improvements and that, if necessary, the changes are reversible.
But critics argue that the new pavement causes flooding and could damage the underlying bedrock. Activists have also spoken out, noting that the new paths don’t meet standards for people with disabilities.
Scholars, artists, and lawyers from around the world signed an open letter to the ministry, stating that the planned changes to the Acropolis amount to a large-scale remodeling, not a restoration. They believe the updates aren’t historically accurate and note that the cultural ministry has failed to inform UNESCO of proposed changes. Some people worry that the ministry’s goal is to increase tourism—not to preserve history.