Τhe reconstruction of the lower side of Syntagma Square in downtown Athens is nearing completion and is already accessible to the residents and the visitors of the Greek capital.
The new look of the lower part of the square reportedly preserves its historical characteristics and at the same time it connects it with the modern way of life.
The new look includes among others:
-Widening of the sidewalks in front of the pedestrian street of Ermou.
-One dedicated bus lane and 5 bus shelters enhancing sustainable mobility [?].
-Planting a total of 24 new trees that will contribute to the square’s microclimate and shading.
-Consolidation of traffic lanes to four (out of six) resulting in reduction of air pollution and noise levels and creation of a smart, safe and visible pedestrian crossing.
-The creation of a more friendly pedestrian crossing, on the historical axis of Ermou, through which additional road safety conditions are created.
-Modern infrastructures for the safe and seamless movement of people with disabilities.
-Large seating areas, close to the new trees, for a comfortable stay.
-New urban equipment (garbage bins, two public fountains, rain grates, tree grates, etc.)
-50 lighting bodies with the latest LED technology materials, adapted to the needs of the modern city that offer energy savings and low light pollution.
Also, as part of the project, two longitudinal pergolas were built between the trees, with a total area of 262 sq.m., for additional shading and organization of the table seats.
Cold materials were used for the coating of the lower square, which achieves the reduction of the surface temperature and counteracts the urban heat island effect.
Work on the lower Syntagma Square began in September 2021.
Yet, before the works are completed and the lower square part became accessible to public, Greeks started to criticize the Mayor of Athens Costas Bakoyannis.
#Athens mayor has decided to pave large section of the centre with marble. Given the Greek capital is often hit by heatwaves, this means this part will be turned into an expensive inhospitable furnace. In winter, a slippery mess with the slightest rain. #μπακογιαννης pic.twitter.com/1LelL9Y4uB
— Teacher Dude (@teacherdude) August 3, 2022
Other noted “you can get blinded from the sun reflection on the marbles if you now walk there at noon.”
— Tileorasakias (@a4d8TxSvWDxF0er) August 4, 2022
“What we ordered – What we got!”
@KBakoyannis μια απόκλιση στο τι παραγγείλαμε και τι μας ήρθε το βλέπεις ε?
Αλλά πως κάνουμε έτσι δεν μας κόστισε ο #μεγαλος_περιπατος και κάτι εκατ. ευρώ. Εμ τι? #μπακογιαννης #αναπλαση pic.twitter.com/uYIRqtdJYr
— • I-Xasou • (@XrhstosVas) August 4, 2022
Some criticized the metal pergolas “after 3 years of experiments and 25,820,074 euros thrown away. Pergolas for shade that create no shade. You can only get suntan vertically or horizontally. Vertially is for prison inmates.”
Τα παιδία παίζει.
Ανακαινισμένη Πλατεία Συντάγματος μετά από 3 χρόνων πειράματα και €25.820.074 πεταμένα λεφτά ΜΑΣ.
Πέργκολες για σκιά που δεν κάνουν σκιά. Απλά μπορείς να μαυρίζεις οριζοντίως και καθέτως.
Οπως το προτιμάς.
— Areti Athanasiou (@AretiAthanasiu) August 4, 2022
Some were just creative:
— Φακλάνα (@Faklana38) August 4, 2022
And some used very sharp tone to criticize that the renovated central square of Athens is bared of its historical depth.
“Honestly now, is there anyone who likes this in Syntagma Square? The square in which the transition to a constitutional state was claimed and won? Of the square that hosted the first Olympic games before 1896? Which remained closed throughout the 1990s for the most important transport project in modern Greece?
I passed by yesterday and I couldn’t believe that it became something like Leonidas Grill, a provincial municipal outdoor trade fair in Ano Panagia.
This treatment is not allowed for Syntagma Square.
Αλήθεια τώρα, υπάρχει κάποιος που να του αρέσει αυτό στην πλατεία Συντάγματος;
Έχουμε συνειδητοποιήσει το ιστορικό βάθος της κεντρικής πλατείας της χώρας; pic.twitter.com/UEI08EmbMJ
— Sotiropoulos (@Sotiropoulos) August 4, 2022
Syntagma Square, the Constitution Square, was named after the Constitution that Otto, the first King of Greece, was obliged to grant after a popular and military uprising on 3 September 1843. The Old Palace was located where the Greek Parliament is now.
Athenians may be right to be skeptical of the mayor’s renovation works after he spent thousands of euros for the Athens Great Walk two years ago only to declare after its implementation that the program was a flop.