(By Wayne O’Connor).- A site known as the home of the best ancient Greek ruins outside of Greece is to be developed to improve access for visitors. The ruins were originally built in 575BC and work to develop the site has been ongoing for more than 20 years.
The 2,500-year-old Empúries site on the Costa Brava will now host parking and leisure facilities after a deal was struck between the Catalan Ministry of Culture and L’Escala’s Town Hall. Cars will now be removed from the site and located at a new 532 space carpark with more efficient traffic management. The new agreement also allows for the construction of a recreational area and a drop-off point for buses and coaches.
Mayor of L’Escala, Estanislau Puig, described the deal as a “milestone” for the town. The ruins were first excavated in 1908 and attempts to develop the site have been ongoing since the Olympic flame visited the ruins prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
The new agreement will also see collaboration between the two institutions and the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia. “It is an old aspiration that we citizens in L’Escala had, to participate actively in the management of the Museum of Empúries, but so far we have lived almost separate realities,” said the Mayor.
Cultural activities such as concerts will now be able to take place at the site. There will be further promotion of its archaeological heritage as well as further protection, conservation and research of the local history.
“For us, without exaggeration, this is a milestone,” said Puig. “All of this is a very long time since 1992 when the Olympic flame entered Empúries and when the former director of the museum started planning these ideas,” he added.
The new carpark will be built in a 25,000 square meter area of pine trees that is owned by the local council. The agreement contains a point where the City Council will give the Catalan Government ownership of part of the property where the new Visitor Reception Centre will be located.
It is due to open to the public in mid-June and will house a restaurant, an audio-visual area, a library and a shop. The construction of this area had initially begun in 2010 but was halted soon after.