On Thursday, December 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the slope lift and the new routes on the Acropolis were delivered to the public in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni and President of the Onassis Foundation Antonis S. Papadimitriou. The work that decisively improves the accessibility of visitors to the monuments is part of the project for upgrading the services provided on the Acropolis. The archaeological site can now be visited by persons with disabilities and by anyone with mobility problems.
Technical data on the slope lift
This is a variable angle lift manufactured by the Italian company MASPERO ELEVATORI. Its payload capacity is 1,300 kg (two wheelchairs with two escorts or an ambulance stretcher with one escort). Its choice was made according to the site’s topography and geotechnical data, which then determined the preparation of the construction designs. It has been certified by the TUV international company as defined by European Regulations on inclined lifts. No such lift exists on another monument. It is the only one in the world because structurally its variable angle is almost a right angle and its perimetric glass cubicle offers a unique panoramic view.
32 seconds are required for the lift to ascend or descend. For visitors to reach the Acropolis monuments from street level when using the old lift, they had to ascend to the level of the current machine room by outside steps using if necessary an electric chair and then ride in the old lift with its completely outdated technology. Spare parts had become defunct and anything needed was made in the DIY method.
At a technological level, the new slope lift is highly advanced, offering comfort, speed, security as well as safety valves while in operation in case of power failure or some other unforeseen problem.
In the event of a power cut it is possible to operate the lift by using alternative means (battery) to access the entrance at street level. By using a dual GSM card, five programmed receivers can be notified in case of an emergency or malfunction. The system is activated automatically in the event of a breakdown, earthquake, high winds, ice, entrapment and immediately notifies those responsible for tackling each problem. In cases of very low temperatures the lift automatically moves on the tracks every 10 minutes to avoid ice building up on its guide rails.
Throughout the implementation of this project, there was a team of supervising archaeologists from the Ministry of Culture and Sports who saw that all measures were taken to ensure the protection of the monuments. Installing the lift required infrastructure work, which included excavation in sections, drilling and positioning of 35 stainless steel anchors on the Balanos wall and grout filling to support the metal bracing struts of the lift’s tracks. The old platform was also removed and a new one installed measuring 12.90m in length and 1.60-1.90m in width.
Information on the new routes for the disabled
The new routes for the disabled cover the North and East side of the Parthenon making it possible for them to tour the monuments of the archaeological site, once they have arrived by the lift.
The total length of the new routes is 500 m. The configurations, both with horizontal alignments and altimetric measurements, follow the archaeological data, restoring the ancient alignments of the Panathenaic Way.
The routes connect the upper exit of the inclined lift with the Panathenaic Way up to the spot of the old museum. They therefore extend in front of the Propylaea, from the Parthenon and up to the South Slope.
As made clear by the Ministry of Culture, the material chosen as aesthetically suited for the paving is concrete with only a 12% content of cement. It therefore looks like artificial stone corresponding to the materials used to complete the monuments. The materials were evaluated with on site test applications by the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Committee. The whole work is entirely reversible.
Two vehicles of the Golf cart type will facilitate access to the new slope lift for the disabled and people with problems of mobility. The vehicle that sets off from Dionysiou Areopagitou street can accommodate 6 people (including the driver) plus a wheelchair. Respectively, the vehicle setting off from the Sacred Rock will accommodate 6 people (including the driver) without a wheelchair.