Greece: Ceremony for Antouaniko Mansion honoured by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

The outstanding conservation of the Antouaniko Mansion in Chios, Greece, winner of a 2015 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award, was celebrated on the afternoon of 12 September. His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, unveiled the award plaque in front of an audience of 300 people, including officials, heritage and culture experts, and the general public. This is an important award warmly embraced by the local community, demonstrating the need to support innovative initiatives for the protection and promotion of the environment and cultural heritage of Greece.

2015 Local Award Ceremony for Antouaniko Mansion in Chios, Greece
The Minister for the Environment Kostis Mousouroulis, the Deputy Minister of Culture Marina Lambraki – Plaka, the Vice-President of Europa Nostra Costa Carras, the Secretary General of Europa Nostra Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, the Greek Consul in Izmir Theodoros Tsakiris and the President of the Chamber of Izmir Ekrem Dermitas participated in the ceremony.

The restoration of the Antouaniko Mansion – the building as well as the surrounding area – was carried out in an exemplary manner to recover traditional construction techniques and pre-industrial agricultural systems, to implement and promote local techniques and to renew the original relationship between the built and natural environment. It is particularly important to underline that the Antouaniko Mansion will be open to the public on certain days and hours to enable visitors and schools to come into contact with the particular cultural heritage of the region.

Costa Carras described the restoration of the Antouaniko Mansion as a “bright achievement, exemplary of creative resistance to the continuous deterioration of cultural heritage and natural environment. Kambos Chiou is a unique set of valuable buildings and traditional orchards that despite repeated disasters like the massacre of 1822 and the earthquake of 1881, but also our own ignorance and neglect, stands witness to the existence of an important culture of pan-Hellenic, pan-European and perhaps also of universal value”.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew praised the restoration of the monument. “It is an amazing work, combining respect for the architectural tradition and history of the place with sensitivity to environmental management through the use of new methods and techniques of architecture and restoration science,” he stated.

In her speech, Alexandra Prokopiou, owner of the Antouaniko Mansion, stressed the considerable effort dedicated to restoring the mansion accurately while respecting the tradition of the place with the aim of creating a good example on how to rescue the Plain of Chios. Manolis Vournous, the head architect of the project and current Mayor of Chios, thanked the tens of Chian craftsmen who gave their best and responded with great pride, enthusiasm and respect for tradition to the challenges of this restoration project.

In the context of the ceremony, an open debate on Europa Nostra’s programme ‘ENtopia: Our Places in Europe’ took place at the School of Mesta in the evening of 10 September. This programme promotes the sustainable development of traditional communities across Europe through networking and exchange and adoption of best practices. Other initiatives were also presented, such as “Peliti”, which aims to preserve and disseminate local and traditional seed varieties, and the award-winning programme “Paths of Culture” of Elliniki Etairia, which gives new life to scenic trails and historical significance throughout Greece, thereby stimulating the local communities with an important factor for sustainable development: hiking tourism.
About the Antouaniko Mansion

The area south of the city of Chios is known as Kampos. It is completely flat and covered by a dense network of small roads. Much of the island is planted with citrus. The orchards are surrounded by high masonry fences, which protect the trees from the wind and dust. The landscape of Kampos is distinct and only slightly resembles that of other Aegean islands. The Antouaniko Mansion is one of the fields in the area. The main house was built in 1893, however older structures, such as the irrigation system and citrus plantation, survive within the estate.

The works on the Antouaniko Mansion included structural repairs, restoration of the main house and auxiliary buildings converted into living quarters, mainly for use during the holidays, as well as extensive rehabilitation of the irrigation system. The relationship between the built and the natural environment was restored in accordance to the original plan, as one holiday home with rural facilities to surround it, and all the intermediate spaces, structures and features have been restored.

The restorations in the Antouaniko Mansion, located in one of the most distinctive cultural landscapes of Europe, led to the restoration of an exemplary complete historical complex with unique mixed character that combines residential uses and agricultural production. The judges particularly appreciated the high quality of the restoration work, which included the recovery of traditional building techniques and pre-industrial agricultural systems, implementation and promotion of local techniques, as well as the renewal of the original relationship between the built and natural environment. The jury considered the project as a model for similar projects, which are essential if we are to preserve the authenticity of this precious historic district.

Watch video

Ceremony trailer

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