Council of State authorizes movement of artifacts from Thessaloniki metro

Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State (GS), has given the green light for the temporary relocation of antiquities found during the construction of the Thessaloniki metro.

By a majority of one vote (13/12), the judges of the Constitutional Court approved the removal of antiquities and decided to rearrange them by 92%. Where the remaining 8% will end up is unknown.

Ancient artifacts were discovered during the construction of the Venizelou metro station. Archaeological excavations have uncovered an entire city from ancient Greece and Rome dating from the 4th and early 3rd centuries BC, as well as over 300,000 stunning finds, from golden wreaths and rings to statues of the goddess Aphrodite.

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Archaeologists, local authorities and Attiko Metro, which is managing the project, have been controversial over the course of action.

The court, with a small gap, rejected all three appeals by academics, professionals and non-governmental organizations against the Ministry of Culture’s decision to move antiques to a warehouse, outside of the metro site, and return them back after the station is completed. Among those who appealed were the main opposition SYRIZA, the left-wing ANTARSIA and former mayor Yiannis Butaris.

In its ruling, the court indicated that the temporary relocation of the monument was deemed necessary to ensure its integrity and protection during work, as well as to prevent risk to human health during the project.

The project is already many years behind schedule due to archaeological discoveries. The construction of the metro in Thessaloniki began in 2003 and was originally intended to be completed by 2012

The authorities now hope to complete the project by 2023, unless, of course, they find something else during construction work.

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