On February 17, 1896 was the year the first Olympic Games took place in Athens. After several long meetings, Thessaloniki’s city council decided to launch certain public projects for the improvement of the city’s infrastructure. Among them, the council proposed the demolition of the old slaughterhouse and the construction of a new one. That same year, the Municipality provided 3,000 Turkish Liras for the construction of the new slaughterhouse in a coastal area near the Bes Tsinar neighborhood; the whole project was completed in 1897. The building is a great example of eclecticism, absolutely symmetrical, with metal roof Polonceau and without any interior partition walls, like the majority of the buildings in Europe built during that period of time. More than 350 animals could be gathered in the central room. The slaughterhouse operated until 1978, stopped functioning for restoration reasons in June 1980, and resumed functioning in 1986 when the Municipality decided that its operation was cost effective. The building was used after 1990 as a public sports centre.
The old slaughterhouse has been described as "a work of art," "a historical listed building" and as "an excellent example of Industrial Architecture."
The area around the slaughterhouse used to be a territory full of life, but ended up abandoned and degraded. The sports centre continued operating but mainly in the new building of the cluster, where one could find a rollerblading arena or even classes for fencing and weightlifting. On the other hand, in the listed building there was only a basketball court left. Fewer and fewer people visited the place as both buildings and surrounding outdoor space were not tended. The new building is of no architectural value and unfortunately hides the listed slaughterhouse. The municipality organized a project regarding the demolition of the new building of the cluster and the construction of a new sports centre, but it was cancelled, because it was considered unprofitable, as Mr. A. Kourakis has stated.
The restoration of the old slaughterhouse began in January 2012 and is estimated to be completed in a few months. Hopefully the old industrial building will be transformed into a modern recreation centre. The project is financed by the operational program Macedonia-Thrace and has an overall budget of 1,5 million Euros. A special department of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports has undertaken the supervision of the building’s restoration, which means rigorous selection of materials and alterations, and consequently, additional potential delays.
Concerts, plays, sports events, dancing performances, art exhibitions, lectures and presentations will be organized in the restored building and its outdoor space.
With the completion of the project, the old slaughterhouse will host the events of the European Youth Capital 2014.
The restoration of the listed building in the west part of the city is expected to bring this degraded area back to life for the benefit of all local inhabitants.
Is there a similar restoration project in your city that took years until it was finally completed?
The original article, published in Greek, can be found here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.