A prominent luxury hotel in Athens has been instructed by the Greek Council of State to demolish the top two of its floors for obstructing the breathtaking view of the Acropolis.
The hotel, which boasted offering “the best view of the Acropolis”, had been depriving many Athenians in the city centre of the opportunity to appreciate the iconic monument.
According to local reports, Pol and Mijalis Efmorfidis, Greek businessmen and owners of the Coco-Mat company, received a burofax from the Greek Council of State last Thursday.
The notice grants them a three-month window to remove the top two floors of the Coco-Mat Athens BC hotel, situated in the heart of Athens.
Failure to comply with the demolition of the illegal structures could result in the hotel losing its operating license.
The Efmorfidis brothers took advantage of a revision in urban planning legislation, which was not applicable in the nearby neighbourhoods of Athens’ archaeological zone, to obtain a building permit that allowed the construction of a 10-story hotel. However, the urban planning regulations in Athens stipulate a maximum of eight stories and a height of less than 24 metres in the area.
The new law, which does not apply to the historic centre, permits a height increase from 24 to 33 metres. Furthermore, it offers additional height bonuses if a rooftop garden is created.
By constructing a rooftop garden with a swimming pool, promising guests an experience of being able to “touch the Parthenon”, the hotel’s height reached 37 metres, effectively obstructing the views of the Acropolis from neighbouring buildings.
The preservation of the scenic views of the Acropolis has been a central aspect of Athens’ urban planning, ensuring that the architectural masterpiece can be enjoyed from various points in the city.
However, an oversight by the Ministry of the Environment led to the erroneous application of the new regulations in all districts, including those within the historic centre, which were intended to maintain the guidelines set by the previous regulations, allowing a maximum of eight stories and a height of less than 24 meters.
The recent decision to enforce the demolition serves as a victory for local residents and a deterrent against the gentrification that Athens has experienced in recent years, particularly after the impact of the pandemic.
The Iconomos Council (International Council of Museums and Sites) and other institutions dedicated to preserving historical and cultural heritage have also expressed their concerns regarding the hotel’s height. Their combined efforts, along with the protests from various neighbourhood associations, have played a pivotal role in the legal resolution of the issue.
The Council of State, as the highest administrative litigation authority in Greece, has set a precedent in safeguarding archaeological heritage and ensuring its appreciation for future generations.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.