Visitors to Athens have a rare window of opportunity to see the showpiece Parthenon temple on the ancient Acropolis without scaffolding for the first time in nearly 30 years as a major restoration work nears completion.
The Greek government launched a project to restore the Parthenon and other buildings on the world heritage site in 1975, but it was not until 1983 that work started.
Scaffolding has been up somewhere around the ancient temple ever since. But from now until September, the exterior of the Parthenon will be scaffold-free.
Building the Parthenon took nine years from 447 BC and the sculptural decorations took another 10 years to complete. Restoration has already taken longer than it took to build.
“We treat every piece of marble like a piece of art so we have to respect it,” Mary Ioannidou, the head of restoration told Reuters during a tour of the temple.
The team of archaeologists, marble cutters, architects, and civil and chemical engineers, dismantled 1,852 metric tons of marble and began the painstaking task of attempting to put it back again in the right place, adding other fragments they found.
Titanium is now used to tie the blocks and columns together which is highly resistant to corrosion.
New marble has been crafted to fill in some of the gaps left by the concrete and allow blocks of the original marble to be returned to their place on the Parthenon’s stonework.
In September though, the scaffolding will be up again on the western facade and that project will last at least another three years. Efforts to piece together the walls of the inner chamber of the temple are already underway.