One of the world's most iconic sites is becoming more accessible to travelers, as the famed Acropolis in Athens, Greece, is installing a new lift and updating walkways to better accommodate visitors in wheelchairs and those with mobility impairments. 

The ancient citadel sits atop a steep hill, making it a challenge to access. Though a lift is already on site, it often did not work, and the pathways around the Acropolis were also badly eroded. Now a new lift is available on the north face of the hill, and the previous concrete walkways have been replaced with artificial stone paths, which span nearly 530 meters and are almost four meters-wide. The old concrete paths were poured in the 1960s, but had been worn down from the shoes of millions of tourists over the years.

The initiative was unveiled by Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on 3 December to mark the International Day of People with Disabilities. The project was funded by the Onassis Foundation, a private organisation that aims to promote Greek culture. 

‘By installing a wheelchair platform lift, we solve a practical but also a symbolic issue: we stress the importance of equal access for all,’ said Antonis Papadimitriou, president of the Onassis Foundation. ‘We are also renewing the illumination of the Acropolis as a small gesture of respect to the monument and to the archaeologists that protect it in all of our names.’

Odeon of Herodes Atticus is easier to access ©Karyn Noble/Lonely Planet

The site of the Acropolis has been occupied since 4000BC, and it has had many incarnations over the millennia, from a religious centre to a home of kings and a mythical realm of gods. The structures that can be seen there today date from the Golden Age of Athens, which started around 460BC.

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The Acropolis is currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s set to reopen on 14 December when the national lockdown in Greece is lifted.

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