Exploring Greece’s wartime tunnels: A new tourist attraction

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Near Greece’s northern border, hidden beneath vegetation, lies a rich military history waiting to be discovered.

According to a Kathimerini article written by Alexia Kalaitzi, Panagiotis Savvidis, a journalist and founder of the social enterprise Angistro Drasi, is bringing this history to light through thematic tours of the Metaxas Line forts, built before WWII to protect Greece from a potential Bulgarian invasion.

Inspired by the military tourism success of Verdun in France, Savvidis realized that similar tours could boost his region’s economy by attracting visitors to the historic military sites around Serres. In 2017, he and his team began tracing and cleaning paths to these forts, turning them into tourist destinations.

During a tour, visitors explore outposts, anti-tank lines, and machine gun bunkers scattered across the area. One notable stop is the arcade of Fort Paliouriones, where Savvidis and his team have unearthed artifacts like soldiers’ letters, helmets, and newspapers from the WWII era.

metaxas line 1914
The Metaxas Line forts were built before WWII to protect Greece from a potential Bulgarian invasion.

The tours offer a hands-on historical experience, with guides dressed as WWII soldiers and sound effects adding to the atmosphere.

The biggest challenge facing their project is that the forts and the area surrounding them belong to the Ministry of Defense. The question of their use by the local communities has been raised by local government representatives.

Savvidis and Polychrous felt more optimistic about the future when they heard Defense Minister Nikos Dendias state recently that the ministry and the government absolutely agree on handing over the forts to the local community, and society as a whole.

These tours not only keep historical memory alive but also provide an economic boost to the area, attracting tourists who visit nearby attractions.

Source: ekathmerini.com

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