Tunnels of Karamanlis: an unknown story

Two “holes” of great importance, the project that connected Attica and the southern part of the coastal front, are the two short tunnels, also known as the tunnels of Karamanlis.

Those heading along the coastline, the highway running along the sea to Cape Sounion, are well aware of the Karamanlis Tunnels (Τρύπες Καραμανλή) – two short stretches of path laid in the mountain, the newspaper writes. carandmotor.gr.

The two small tunnels are of great importance, since their opening made it possible to connect the coastal regions of South Attica with the capital, whose inhabitants had previously had to travel to Athens through Mesogion.

The tunnels are located between Varkiza and Agia Marina Koropi, on the 31st kilometer of the Athens-Sounio road. The project was one of the favorites of Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis. Construction began in 1954 with the opening of the first tunnel, and a second was added a few years later, which was opened to traffic in the early 1980s.

The tunnels are about seven meters long, and due to the slope of the road surface, combined with the sharp turn in the road at this point, they are considered one of the most dangerous places for drivers. When there was only one tunnel (the one that runs towards Athens), drivers passing through it used the horn for greater safety, and this “custom” was abolished a few years after the opening of the second tunnel.

They are also known as Lubarda (Λουμπάρδα) – this is the name of the beach in the area. The same term is used to describe tunnels dug into mountains by blasting.

The place gained notoriety after the attempted assassination of Georgios Papadopoulos by Alekos Panagoulis on August 13, 1968. It failed because the makeshift device exploded in the tunnel seconds after the dictator drove through it.

After renovations carried out at the end of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the tunnels have become safer. A huge 100-ton fragment of rock, which could collapse at any moment (traffic was closed for this reason), was removed, but not by blasting the rock, but by cutting without support.

This decision was made after Cyclone Janus, the strongest recorded in the Mediterranean since the middle of the last century. After inspections carried out by experts, it turned out that bad weather had dangerously widened the existing millimeter crack in this piece of rock, and the necessary measures had to be taken urgently.

In parallel, work was carried out, which included the installation of an emergency barrier, new curbs and correction of the road slope. Sidewalks have also been shaped and LED lighting has been installed both outside and inside the small tunnels that are the area’s most recognizable landmark.

Now, with these improvements, road safety has improved and the number of accidents that were common in the area in previous years has been reduced.

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