The new Acropolis illuminations: Beauty might not save the world, but it can make it better.
A project illuminating the cradle of democracy was launched on Wednesday, September 30, bathing Athens in new light. An elegant ceremony presenting the new lighting of the Acropolis attracted the attention of people the world over, sending out a message of hope and joy.
This special event at the Pnyx, on the Hill of the Nymphs, was honored by the attendance of the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni, and the President of the Onassis Foundation Anthony S. Papadimitriou.
This is the first in a series of works by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports designed to upgrade all facilities on the Acropolis – projects donated and delivered by the Onassis Foundation. The internationally acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning lighting designer Eleftheria Deko was selected to undertake the project studies and design following an open call.
The launch ceremony included a short audio-visual happening, lasting minutes, with lighting design by Eleftheria Deko, video direction by Alexandros Maragos, and original video music score by Stavros Gasparatos, all in collaboration with Cristos Sarris of the Onassis Foundation. Beams of light rose out from the Acropolis, sending a message of joy and hope to all before the new white lighting scheme was officially presented to the public.
Athens by night now shines bright, as it deserves.
It is worth noting once more that the new lighting picks out the monuments of the Acropolis citadel from its fortification walls, and also illuminates the spaces between them for the first time. The new lighting studies did not limit themselves to esthetics – the project also constitutes a major upgrade of the existing infrastructure, bringing the electric power system and automated lighting control systems right up to date. Light pollution has been reduced as part of the technical upgrade. All electrical switchboards have been changed, and the existing HID lights replaced with 609 cutting-edge, high color fidelity LED lighting fixtures (that’s 40% fewer than before), with a view to the new installation running without issue for over twenty years. The new lighting fixtures have minimal maintenance costs. The newly installed system delivers energy savings of more than 65%, and all the fixtures can be independently controlled at every level, offering significant flexibility for the creation of different lighting states. It is also worth noting that the cable installation has been improved across all the monuments, thereby also improving the esthetics of the site.
The new illuminations highlight the Acropolis rock as a whole, the fortification walls, and the volumes and geometries of each monument from every possible viewpoint. The marbles – now whiter than ever before – reflect every facet, every geometric shape, and every natural material in order to accentuate each monument’s decorative reliefs.
By changing the city, we ourselves are changed. By enhancing the appearance of our cultural heritage, and the infrastructures that support it, we are signaling its accessibility to society as a whole. A modern elevator up the slopes of the citadel, and all-new disabled walkways will be opened for public use on December 3, to honor the International Day of People With Disabilities.