A unique shared heritage
The thirteen main Dodecanese islands share a unique built heritage from the ‘Interbellum’ period. In the 1920s and 1930s they were subjected to an unprecedented and coordinated construction program driven by the Italian colonial authorities with the aim of modernizing the islands and integrating them into the newly established Italian colonial empire. While originally conceived as an expression in stone of the authorities’ ambition to be recognized as legitimate rulers of the Dodecanese, a majority of the buildings remained in use after the Dodecanese joined Greece in 1947 and have, over time, become an inalienable and highly distinctive part of the layered and multifaceted cultural heritage of the islands. This modern heritage of the Dodecanese Islands is the focus of the Dodecanese Modern Heritage campaign and project.
The DMH project
The Dodecanese Modern Heritage (DMH) project was launched at the instigation of the Governor of the South Aegean Region, Mr. G. Hatzimarkos, after a proposal by the Rhodes International Culture & Heritage Society (RICHeS) and is supported by the Dodecanese Service of Modern Monuments and Technical Works of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. The Governor of the South Aegean Region has entrusted RICHeS with the implementation of the project. RICHeS is an NGO founded in Rhodes in 2009 dedicated to the promotion and study of Rhodes' cultural heritage. RICHeS organizes lectures, exhibitions, educational programs and many other actions and activities. The most famous activity of RICHeS is the annual 'Open Doors' / European Heritage Days which attract tens of thousands of visitors.
Aim and content of the DMH project
The main aim of the project is twofold; firstly, to obtain formal recognition of the unique value of the modern architectural heritage of the Dodecanese, and secondly, to increase awareness of this heritage among local residents and visitors. Several paths are being taken simultaneously to achieve these objectives. The campaign largely consists of raising audience and expert support to prepare a proposal to convince the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports of the need to include this heritage on the national World Heritage tentative list and ultimately its nomination on the Unesco World Heritage list. A well-founded proposal in this regard will be submitted to the Ministry at the conclusion of a future phase of the project. At the same time, options will be explored to focus more informally on this heritage through various actions and initiatives. Possible examples include publications, development of educational material and the promotion of the Dodecanese Modern Heritage as an addition to the existing touristic product, by stimulating upmarket and sustainable forms of cultural tourism.
The project consists of several successive phases, each with new goals. When determining the goals for the consecutive phase, the results of the previous phase are considered. The project is currently in the first phase; exploring the possibilities, obtaining formal support and setting up the framework of the campaign. An important target in this phase is to ask for public support through the use of the media; printed and online and setting up an online signature campaign. The first phase started in September 2018 and will be concluded by the end of May 2020.