This Europe: Walk of Fame 2,400 years old found under Acropolis, and the stray cats love it

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The Independent Online

Long before the first legends of the silver screen planted their stars in the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard, celebrity-conscious Athenians had pioneered the first Walk of Fame, which reopened this week.

After more than a century buried in the sprawl of the modern Greek capital, the fourth-century BC Tripodon Street has re-emerged into the light in Plaka, under the Acropolis. Constantine Kazamiakis, the architect who oversaw the excavation, believes dramatic history has been uncovered, because the street was once flanked by tributes to the greatest actors, playwrights and producers of the age.

"In ancient Greece, plays were staged by rich citizens, the choregoi," Mr Kazamiakis says. "They paid all the expenses, the actors, the chorus, the musicians, as well as all the stage sets.

"If the play won the annual theatre competition, the city gave the choregos a bronze or gilt tripod, which he would place on a choregic monument in honour of Dionysos."

Over time, the half mile of Tripodon Street became bordered by the gilt-edged trophies or tripods, set on giant pediments, of which only remnants survive.

The actress Joanne Woodward, whose rising star was first to land on Los Angeles' most famous sidewalk in 1958, might think her fame has lasted, but she has a way to go to catch Lysicrates. His 33ft (10-metre) marble pedestal has survived since 334BC. As a wealthy Athenian, at that time Lysicrates was obliged by the state to fund the theatre as a choregos, or patron of the arts, with the only potential reward being the fame of a tripod.

The result of the first phase of restoration is a modest 50sq metres of pink gravel, supported by a weed-proof mat, but Mr Kazamiakis appeals to visitors to think of the historic footsteps in which they are following.

"This is the road Athenians took to watch performances of plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes and others," he says.

Some of today's neighbours are less impressed by the unveiling of their ancient Walk of Fame, because it is a magnet for stray cats. "They think it's a giant litter tray with the gravel and that mat poking out," one says. "They seem to find it irresistible."

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