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Until recently, the largest part of the First Ancient Theatre of Larissa had been lying under private plots and residences, but thanks to excavation works in recent years, it came to light almost in its entirety. Until 1950, the damage caused to the monument by the buildings constructed on it was insignificant, almost negligible. From that decade onwards, however, and particularly during the 1960s, the damage caused by the new buildings which replaced the old became extremely serious. The restoration process has begun from 1985 until today and of critical importance to the full excavation of the monument in recent years has been an extensive Ministry of Culture expropriation programme. The Ephorate of Antiquities of Larissa is the organisation responsible for the monument while the Municipality of Larissa has financed relevant studies to be financed by ERDF resources. In addition several other stakeholders have similarly financed studies and relevant activities in order to speed up procedures, namely the Municipal Water and Sewerage Company of Larissa (private company, owned by the Municipality), the “Kanellopoulos Foundation” and “Diazoma” association.
ERDF Funding: More that 10 million euros so far
Other funds (crowdfunding, donations and own resources): More than 2 million euros from both Municipality of Larissa, Municipal Water and Sewerage Company of Larissa, Kanellopoulos Foundation, Diazoma association and J.M. Kaplan Fund among others.
Evidence of success
From the beginning of the restoration, three periods of expropriations were carried out, for more than 5 million euros in total while another 1 million has just been granted for the last phase. In terms of scientific importance more than 2,500 inscriptions and 150 sculptures have been revealed while the theater is considered to be one of the largest in Greece with its 10,000 seats.
The various stakeholders, the bureaucracy and lack of efficient resources for a full expropriation programme have caused several obstacles throughout these years. But the high level of commitment of all interested parties has lead to a successfully distinction of roles guarantee its sustainability.
Potential for learning or transfer
Since it is a very complex project, due to its size, location, archeological significance as well as the fact that there are still buildings that cover part of it, the combination of several parallel and complementary resources used and the legal status of the organizations involved (Ministry, Region, Municipality, Municipal Company, Foundation and Association) make the project extremely interesting and highly recommended for transferring. Various specialized and costly studies needed to be drafted in order to secure funds for excavation and construction works and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Larissa didn’t have the necessary capacity to achieve them. Nevertheless, the resource coming from the Municipaliy of Larissa, the Municipal Water and Sewerage Company of Larissa, the “Kanellopoulos Foundation” and “Diazoma” association have secured its continuation and feasibility and managed to secure more funding from ERDF-Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020, in order to finish the works.