Wednesday, 23 July 2008
ABC Wednesday: A for Asylum
Another round of ABC Wednesday has started, and this week, it's being hosted on its very own website, ABC Wednesday, created by Denise and her team.
This week's letter is - of course - A, and the word is asylum.
This is one of the old buildings that reminds the residents of Hania of its former more glorious period, the years between the world wars, even though it now looks like a dumpster. The plaque on the building simply states the owner's name and that he donated it to the University of Crete. He must have been an important person in the community. People become important in Greece usually because they are connected with money or politics. To build a house like this one means the former owner was wealthy and/or possibly involved in politics (the two still go hand-in-hand in Greece).
Riches don't always bring happiness, and this is probably the reason why the former owner of the house passed it on to the state in his will. The state had no money to spare (as usual) to maintain it by repairing what needed to be fixed, so the house was left to stagnate in a state of ruin. The University of Crete was expanding and took over the building, as was the original owner's wishes.
There's only one catch with university properties. University areas are protected by asylum: the police can't enter them under any circumstances, according to an archaic Greek law created no doubt for the benefit of the advancement of science and knowledge. This is why not a single university building in the whole country has remained unscathed by attacks from hooligans, vandals, drug dealers, squatters and all other kinds of vagrants. The building in question has been occupied by student activists for the last two years, its present use probably not envisioned by the former owner.
This building is found on the main shopping road in Hania, diagonally across from the Agora, which coincidentally also begins with 'A'.