Central Athens has seen nights of violence this week following the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy.
Anger boiled over in cities throughout Greece after police officers shot the teenager dead. The shooting has acted as a spark of public discontent. Although there are suspicions of anarchist orchestration behind the scenes it is widely believed that lingering disquiet and frustration at the weak Greek government is fuelling the riots. European news agencies are speculating whether the spreading riots are significant enough to threaten the stability of the Greek government.
Rioters are vandalising local shops, throwing masonry and setting fires with some of the most serious destructing occurring in central Athens. The conservative Greek newspaper, the Kathimerini, wrote yesterday; “Athens was at the mercy of flames and the uncontrolled action of hooded youths for a third consecutive night … displaying a power vacuum and the inability of the state to ensure order.”
The Arch of Hadrian overlooks the modern Amalias Avenue – a busy road in central Athens near to some of the worst scenes of rioting. The Arch, which resembles a Roman triumphal arch, already suffers from degradation of the inscriptions and extensive discolouration of the stone. Atmospheric pollution is one of the largest contributors to stone decay.
It is suggested that the Arch was built to honour the Roman Emperor Hadrian when he visited Athens in 131 AD. Inscriptions on the Arch mention Hadrian. The Arch itself sits across the ancient road which once led from central Athens to the eastern side of the ancient city where the Temple of Zeus is found.
In Pure Spirit
Have you visited Athens? Which was your favourite historic site? Should we be concerned that the troubles in Athens and Greece this week will endanger more sites?