Hidden Heritage Under Threat: Lavrio Historic Wharf

Lavrio Wharf Satellite ViewICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The Historic Wharf and its environment

The 19th century Wharf of the French mining company “Compagnie Française des Mines du Laurium” (1875 – 1981) is situated at the Port of Lavrio, approximately 60 km South East of Athens, in the South-East part of Attica, Greece.

Lavrio Wharf Aerial ViewICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

Lavrio was famous in Classical antiquity for its silver mines, upon which the city of Athens based part of its prosperity. At some locations the ancient shafts and galleries, as well as the washing tables can still be seen.

Lavrio Wharf from belowICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

After a long period of inactivity, the mines reopened at the end of the 19th century by French and Greek companies mainly for ore, silver-lead ore, lead, manganese and zinc. For the needs of the “new era” mining, the industrial city of Lavrio [Laurium] was created and the area was inhabited again after many centuries.

Lavrio Wharf - Marmani Collection (1914)ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The 19th century companies were operating until 1981 when the final closure came, leaving behind a vast industrial site with remarkable buildings, depots, mechanical equipment and of course, the metallic and stone Wharf of the French Mining company, which is commonly known as The French Wharf of Lavrio.

Lavrio Wharf South-WestICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The significance of the Historic Wharf

The French Wharf of the Lavrio mines, is a significant listed monument of architectural and industrial technology. It is a landmark for the town of Lavrio as well as for the broader area which also includes other historic and archaeological sites. It is a significant and remarkable large-scale industrial artefact which has not been studied since its construction in 1886-1888, or received any maintenance works, since the gradual closing of the mining company from 1982 to 1992.

Lavrio Wharf North EastICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

In 1987, it was listed as a historic monument construction, without taking any measures for its protection and conservation.

Lavrio Wharf DetailICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The condition of the monument has been studied and evaluated from specialized scientists and professors from the National Technical University of Athens in collaboration with the Municipality of Lavrio. The results of the evaluation showed that it is heavily damaged, due to corrosion from the sea environment, natural ageing of the materials and damages it had endured during its operation.

Lavrio Wharf EastICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The image we have today of the monument does not depict the scale and the entire operating system of the railway transportation and the embarkment of the mining products to the ships.

The Wharf was actually and is -today- semiologically connecting the mining company and the town of Lavrio via steamboats with the significant ports of the Mediterranean Sea and Europe.

Lavrio Wharf StructureICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The majority of the population of Lavrio were working in the mining companies. Today at the port of Lavrio, only a small part of the facilities is still standing, including some warehouses and the Wharf, which has become their reference point of valuable historic memory and the landmark that symbolizes the evolution of their homeland that has suffered trying to create a new reality based on its history and civilization.

Lavrio Wharf South-WestICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

The Wharf is a monument of industrial, technical, labor, economic and cultural significance which cannot be erased from the life and memories of the people and has to be saved and incorporated in everyday life of the modern era.

Credits: Story

This page has been produced with content supplied by the National Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture (Prof. N. Belavilas) and School of Rural & Surveying Engineering (Prof. A. Georgopoulos), who have undertaken the restoration of the Wharf in 2018.

Photographs and Orthophoto by Maria Balodimou, Sevi Tapinaki, Nina Athanassopoulou, Margarita Skamantzari and Panos Agrafiotis.

For more hidden heritage sites under threat:

Hidden Heritage Under Threat: Norman Monastery

Hidden Heritage Under Threat: San Jorge Farm

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Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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