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Fort Roupel – a tourist destination

05 April 2015 / 21:04:02  GRReporter
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A tourist destination and a place of historical memory: this is what now are the 21 fortifications of the so-called Metaxas line along the Bulgarian-Greek border, from the Belasitsa mountain (or Beles in Greek) to the Rhodopes.

Monday marks 74 years from the battle on the Metaxas Line and the resistance of the Greek people against invading German troops. To commemorate the occasion, a number of events will be held throughout the weekend in the fortifications which nowadays harbour museum exhibitions and are open to visitors.

A German artillery piece, Roupel

The fortification line presents a monumental structure including surface and underground facilities intended to defend the country from attack. It covers 34 km of underground tunnels, 13 km of underground shelters, and 88 km of irrigation pipeline. The line took four years to build (1936-1940) and cost 1.5 billion drachmas, an astronomical amount at that time.

Inside fort Nymfaia

1/3 of the fortifications are in Serres. The most famous of them, Fort Roupel, is visited by over 40,000 each year. The smaller fort of Istimbey is now open too. Other accessible sites are: Fort Lisse in Kato Nevrokopi, Drama district, Echinos in Xanthi, and Nymfaia in Rodopi. A total of 8 fortifications are in Serres, 11 in Drama and one each in Xanthi and Rodopi.

Weapons and ammunition in Roupel

The regional tourism adviser for Serres, Athanasios Maslarinos, said before the Ethnos daily: "Roupel is the biggest attraction of the area, it is a strong tourist destination and a place of historical memory. This is the largest fort in the Metaxas line, with 1849 m of shelters and 4251 m of tunnels. Istimbey fort, only 250 metres away from the Bulgarian-Greek border, is smaller, but no less important. We use every opportunity to show these fortifications and promote them abroad."

Marcos Bolaris, former deputy minister and an MP from PASOK, has designed a full-scale restoration project for the fortifications with the aim of turning them into a modern polythematic park, modelled after the Maginot Line on the Franco-German border.

Fort Lisse (interior view)

"These fortifications are defence architecture monuments of international significance and cannot stay the way they are now. They could attract thousands of tourists, host various events, even a re-enactment of the battle like the one staged every year in Verdun in northeastern France.

The fortifications can become a locomotive of the tourism industry in central and eastern Macedonia and Thrace," said Bolaris and suggested the abandoned barracks at Roupel be converted into a luxury hotel: located deeper into the forest, the barracks were abandoned by the authorities in 1980. They show off stone-masonry buildings and great views to southern Bulgaria and the northern parts of Serres, around Lake Kerkini.

Tags: Metaxas Line Fort Roupel fortifications
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