GREECE: KAMPOS OF CHIOS IN THE SIGHTS OF EUROPA NOSTRA AND EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK INSTITUTE
On 12-14 September 2016, the Kampos of Chios in Greece, listed among ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe in 2016, was visited by a team of heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra, the European Investment Bank Institute and Elliniki Etairia - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, which nominated the site for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme. The delegation visited several estates, with mansions dating from the 16-19th centuries, built in a unique mixture of Genoese, Byzantine and Ottoman styles, and discussed the situation in Kampos with representatives from the local authorities and with NGOs already actively involved in the area. The key findings and recommendations of the expert mission to the site will be presented by the end of the year.
The Kampos of Chios is a semi‐rural area within the city limits of Chios that exemplifies the coexistence of Byzantine, Genoese and local architectural styles and influences. It used to consist, principally, of more than 200 estates containing orchards (typical agro‐eco‐systems), mansions and churches. The existing urban tissue includes buildings from the 14-18th centuries as well as neoclassical buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. The site is under permanent threat due to the inability of the owners to maintain the properties and to unsuitable uses and provisions introduced by the 2008 Urban Plan for Chios.
The team was comprised of Costa Carras, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, Campbell Thomson, Technical Consultant provided by the European Investment Bank Institute, Ioanna Steriotou, Member of the Scientific Council of Europa Nostra, and various representatives from Elliniki Etairia, namely P. Kremezis, C. Koutsadelis and N. Triantafyllopoulos.
At a meeting held on 12 October at the Municipality of Chios, the Mayor Manolis Vournous, himself a distinguished architect restorer, expressed his strong commitment to support the efforts under way to create the institutional and economic conditions for the sustainable development of the Kampos. Discussion with the team led to an agreement on the need for a new legal framework, including changes on three levels: in the national legislation for the protection of cultural heritage sites in Greece; in the Presidential Decree about the protection status of the Kampos – already declared both a historical site and a traditional settlement; and in the legislation governing the taxation of the Kampos estates, which are taxed as urban plots available for development while they are actually agricultural land.
Representatives from the local association The Friends of Kampos, who are among those leading the fight for the protection of the site, placed emphasis on the need for an integrated plan for the water management and the road network of the Kampos of Chios. The expert team also exchanged views with the representatives from other organisations – namely the Citrus Museum, the Progressive Association of Kampos and the Ecologists –, who have raised a series of key issues, such as the encouragement of the traditional cultivation of citrus fruit, perhaps in combination with other crops compatible with them; the limitation of fast and heavy traffic on the main road of Kampos; and incentives for the restoration of collapsing mansions. A former Advisor of the Mayor, D. Tsouchlis, described the administrative procedure for preparing and funding a coherent programme for the Kampos and emphasised that such a proposal should be ready by September 2017.
The Kampos of Chios is an area combining fine architecture with traditional agricultural production, but it faces serious challenges because of its proximity to the city of Chios and its airport, the past mismanagement of natural resources and the current economic crisis striking Greece, which is made even worse by the refugee crisis in Chios itself. However, it seems that both the local authorities and the wider community of the Kampos have realised the significance of the issue and that they will be supportive of initiatives aiming at the protection of this unique European site.