600 people celebrate the rehabilitation of the Ancient city of Karthaia in Greece

Some 600 people took part in the festive events to mark the exemplary rehabilitation of the Ancient city of Karthaia in the Island of Kea in Greece on 15-16 September. The plaque of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2017 was unveiled during a memorable ceremony held at the north side of the “Athena” temple with a splendid view over the Aegean. High-level representatives from Europa Nostra and local and national authorities participated in this remarkable event, which was organised by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades Department of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports in collaboration with the Municipality of the Island of Kea.

Local Award Ceremony for the Ancient city of Karthaia in Greece

On 15 September visitors arrived at the archaeological site of Karthaia in great numbers using every possible means of transport (traditional footpaths, donkeys, boats), since there is no road connection to the site. Once there, visitors enjoyed a guided tour of the site and the monuments undertaken by the archaeologists that worked on the restoration project of the Ancient city of Karthaia. Following on from the tour, everyone then gathered at the north side of the “Athena” temple with a splendid view over the Aegean, to listen to speeches held by high-level representatives from the administrative and cultural sectors.

Fani Mallouchou-Tufano, Chair of the Awards’ Jury in the category Conservation, noted that the creation of this archaeological park for a site from the 5th century BC is an outstanding lesson in recovering and highlighting the Classical landscape of Europe.

Costa Carras, Vice-President of Europa Nostra and Founder of Elliniki Etairia, underlined that history and nature are found in complete harmony in Karthaia and that the preservation and enhancement of the site’s unique history and special ecosystem were carefully planned to preserve this authenticity.

Afterwards, at the entrance of the archaeological site, the unveiling of the commemorative plaque of the EU prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2017 took place, accompanied by a warm applause. The festivities ended with a wonderful performance at the ancient theatre, the first modern performance held there. It was an exciting Prose and Music Homer’s Iliad. All in all, it was a thrilling experience leaving the best impressions of Karthaia on the visitors.

On 16 September, guided tours by an archaeologist of the Ephorate were offered to the public at the exceptional Prehistoric settlement of Ayia Eirini and at the island’s Archaeological Museum. In this way, the long standing history and significant cultural heritage of Kea were better realized by the event’s visitors. In the afternoon, at the Stylianos Restis Hall in Koressia (the harbor of the island), a thorough presentation of the project with photographs was made by Prof. Em. Eva Simantoni-Bournia, President of the Scientific Committee of the Rehabilitation Project of Karthaia.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, gave a speech which underlined the importance of the preservation and enhancement of our shared cultural heritage and congratulated all participants of the project and the organisers of the celebration for their strong commitment and the magnificent result.

“I was truly impressed by the high quality of the conservation work carried out on the important archaeological site of Karthaia. All organisations and persons who have contributed to this project should feel very proud of their exemplary achievement. But what really makes this site unique for visitor’s enjoyment is the stunning beauty of its natural environment. Every effort should be undertaken to preserve this outstanding harmony between a major archaeological site and its surrounding landscape. Any plans for tourism development related to Karthaia should therefore build on and further enhance this unique relationship between culture, history and nature,” stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra ended with a wish to return soon to the island of Kea with another Award, this time for the restoration of the ancient tower of Ayia Marina.

The celebration ended with the handing over of the certificate of the Award to the Mayor of Kea, Mr. Yannis Evangelou, who received it with great respect and devotion to the ideal of preservation of cultural heritage.

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