Athens cleans up 63 abandoned buildings making up architectural, historic wealth
The Athens city council has cleaned up 63 buildings in central areas, such as Omonia, many of which had been abandoned or occupied by squatters, posing health and safety risks to neighborhoods.
The buildings are part of some 1,800 dwellings in the Greek capital that have been abandoned for decades, often featuring neoclassical architecture and historic significance.
Many of them are listed buildings but are crumbling due to neglect over the years. In some instances, they simply collapse, crushing nearby parked cars and threatening the lives of passers-by.
There have been repeated calls for the government to introduce incentives to preserve these buildings - owned by individuals, businesses and authorities - seen as being a key part of the city's heritage.
"This is one of the largest operations to have taken place in Athens to date, not only to recover parts of its wealth in buildings, but also to address safety concerns among residents and protect public health," the Athens municipality said in a statement.
Buildings and public spaces in Patissia, the Acropolis area, Psyrri and Metaxourgeio were also cleaned up, the council added. Some of these districts are rundown but have also drawn significant investments in residential housing in recent years due to their proximity to tourist destinations, such as the Acropolis.
Athens mayor Kostas Bakoyiannis said that efforts will continue in improving abandoned sites.