Cultural Heritage Management of Historical Centers: the Old Town of Rethymno, Crete, Greece

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Abstract. The known history of the Old Town of Rethymno, Crete goes back to the Venetian period. From the beginning of the 20th century a number of construction interventions changed the appearance of several buildings of the town. Recently the
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  Cultural Heritage Management of Historical Centers: the Old Town of Rethymno,Crete, Greece Sophia Topouzi 1 , Apostolos Sarris 2 and Charalambos Flouris 3   Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (F.O.R.T.H.)130 Nikiforou Foka str., GR-74100 Rethymno, Greece 1 stopouzi@arch.uoa.gr,  2 asaris@ret.forthnet.gr,  3 flouris@admin.forth.gr  Abstract. The known history of the Old Town of Rethymno, Crete goes back to the Venetian period. From the beginning of the 20 th  century a number of construction interventions changed the appearance of several buildings of the town. Recently the Municipalityof Rethmnon has created a special department for monitoring the numerous development works within the old town. In collaborationwith the abovementioned department, the Institute for Mediterranean Studies – F.O.R.T.H. has developed a relational database and aGeographical Information System for the documentation, protection and preservation of the buildings of the Old Town of Rethymno.The final product can be used by the Municipality of Rethymno, the local Department of Antiquities and individual researchers and itcan be considered as a pilot system for the management of the cultural resources of the historical centers within an urban environ-ment. Key words : Rethymno, Historical Centers, GIS, Digital Cadastre 1 Introduction 1. 1 History of the town Rethymno is located at the southeastern part of the Mediterra-nean Sea, on the northwest coast of the island of Crete, Greece.Habitation in the area begins during the Neolithic period. Al-though some tombs, dated to the Minoan period, have been foundin the area of the modern town of Rethymno (Kalokyris 1998,Malagari – Stratidakis 1995), the limits of the Minoan settlementhave not been detected until today. However the hill of the Ve-netian Fortezza is known by the toponym “Palaeokastro”, mean-ing the “Ancient Castle” (Steriotou 1979, vol. I:14).The first mention of the town called “Rithymna” appears inthe 4 th century B.C., when the town mints coins with the symbolof dolphins. The town is also mentioned at the sanctuary of Del-phoi (Malagari – Stratidakis 1995:8).From the Byzantine period and the Arab occupation little isknown. However when the Venetians take over the area, theyrefer to Rethymno as “Castrum Rettimi” (Dimakopoulos1977:19, Steriotou 1979. vol. I:20), which indicates the existenceof a fortified town here. This should be the “Castel Vecchio”used by the Venetian until 1571, when 1591 out of the 3091houses and all of the fortifications of the town were destroyed byan attack of the ottoman fleet. After this incident the town’sbuildings and fortifications have been rebuilt. The town’s planhas remained more or less unchanged since then (Steriotou 1979:153).On September 29 th 1646, after a 22-day siege, the town and itsFortezza fall into the hands of the Ottomans. No significantchange has been made to the town’s plan, with the exception of converting the Christian churches into mosques, which demandedthe building of some minarets. Some private homes have alsobeen built on the coastal road, the Venetian “Sabbionara” (Dima-kopoulos 1977).In the beginning of the 20 th century the town’s walls started tocollapse. The town’s need to expand was made rather obvious.The town and its historical monuments were subjected to a largenumber of destructions (an example is the demolition of thetower of the Venetian solar watch) making the need of a culturalresources management plan an urgent matter for the preservationof the historical center of the town. 1.2 Urban Planning : a digital approach Today Rethymno is divided in the Old and the New Town. TheNew Town is constantly subjected to construction interventions.On the other hand, for the last couple of decades, the Old Townhas been protected by a number of actions in order to preserveunalterable its cultural character. In addition to that, a few yearsago the Municipality of Rethymno created a special department 1  in order to monitor the construction interventions and make spe-cific suggestions to preserve the Venetian and Ottoman monu-ments.As a result of its’ collaboration with the Municipality, theLaboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing and Ar-chaeo-environment of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies –F.O.R.T.H. has undertaken the task to create an electronic operat-ing system consisting of a database and a Geographical Informa-tion System. The system is going to be used a) to register the OldTown’s buildings and their architectural characteristics, the rele-vant construction interventions and the corresponding permitsand b) to spatially visualize all the available information on thetopographical background of the town.A number of similar examples are well-known in internationallevel (Bernades et al. 1996, Bianchini 2001, Boerner 2001,Boerner 2002, Campagna 2001, Campagna et al. 2002). Howeverthe case of the Old Town of Rethymno is a unique example of digital heritage management in Greece, offering a number of proposals for the expansion of such a system in other historical“neighbourhoods” of the Mediterranean. 1 Acknowledgements : The authors would like to thank S.Kelekis,M.Iliaki and M.Kotsifi (Municipality of Rethymnon) for their col-laboration throughout the entire project.  2 Creation of the Database The database, which is designed to work both individually and inconsistency with the Geographical Information System, in such away as to meet the needs of the employees of the Municipality’sOld Town Department, contains information about the buildingblocks and plots, the architectural characteristics and the ownersof the buildings, photos and designs of them, and relevant bibli-ography, regarding their historical context. Information about theroads and the construction works and interventions within thelimits of the Old Town is also included.The design of the database, consisted of entities and relation-ships between them according to the E/R model, was transformedinto MS ACCESS tables. “Tab-control forms”, allowing formswith multiple pages, were introduced to encounter the problem of the large number of inter-related data. Finally, the final productwas designed as a double-leveled operating system in order toprovide limited access to unauthorized users. First level access islimited to authorized users, who can either enter, update anddelete data or perform predefined queries ( fig. 1. ). After updatingthe different fields, data can be exported to the geographic data-base of the GIS. In a second level, access is allowed to all users,mainly for performing predefined queries and printing their re-sults. Fig. 1. Query form from the database In order to test the functionality of the system a number of en-tries, based on published bibliography for the Venetian and Ot-toman buildings in Rethymno (Dimakopoulos 1977), was per-formed. Information about more than a thousand buildings of theOld Town of Rethymno is expected to be entered in the databaseby the Municipality’s Old Town Department. 3. Geographical Information System The specific Geographical Information System contains data inboth vector and raster form. All data are transformed in the samegeodetic reference system, the Hellenic Geodetic Reference Sys-tem 1987 (EGSA ’87), which is used by the National Cadastre of Greece. The GIS can either be used singularly or in significancewith the database. 3.1 Rasters The rasters used in the specific GIS were the Digital ElevationModel of the wider area of Rethymno, an Ortho SPOT satelliteimage with 10×10m resolution and aerial images (of differentscales and dates).The Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the area was created bydigitized contours (elevation 4 meters) and topographical points,provided by topographical maps (scale 1:5000) 2 .The methodused was the “Minimum Curvature”, which combines contoursand points with the optimum result. Furthermore, a second terrainmodel was used, created with the TIN option of the ESRI-ArcView, in order to be used in the 3D simulations.The satellite and the aerial images of different dates have beenused to monitor the changes in the urban planning.All rasters ( fig. 2 ) were geometrically corrected into the samegeodetic system, EGSA ’87 3 ,so that they can be used in combi-nation with the vectors included in the system. Fig. 2. Georeferenced aerial images from different chronological peri-ods, superimposed on the ortho satellite image from SPOT 3.2 Vectors Topographical maps from the National Cadastre of Rethymno(scale 1:1000) 4  were digitized in order to create the digital back-ground of the town. Blocks, building plots and buildings weredigitized as polygons and roads as lines ( fig. 3 ). To each featurean ID-number was assigned according to the National Cadastreof Greece. The ID-number allowed the identification of every 2 Provided by the Greek Geographical Service of the Army. 3 The EGSA ’87 is the Geodetic Reference System used by the NationalCadastre of Greece. 4 Provided by the Municipality’s Old Town Department.  different building and the connection to the data contained in thedatabase. This way an advanced user can perform queries inorder to search for buildings with specific characteristics and getas a result a thematic map combined with a table, which containsthe relevant information. Fig. 3. Digitized topographical map of the Old Town of Rethymno,consisting of the coastline, roads, blocks, building plots and buildings. The final result was the creation of thematic maps accordingto architectural characteristics or chronological periods. Thus theVenetian monuments were separated from the Ottoman ones andspots of interest were indicated to the user. By clicking on theindicated spots, the user can see information (photos and text)about the specific monument. Fig. 4. Thematic map of the Venetian monuments in the Old Townof Rethymno. Photo and text information about the Venetian Fortezza. 3.3 3D Visualization Using the DEM, draped by the most recent aerial photo, a 3Dmodel of the area was created. Using information from the pub-lished bibliography (Steriotou 1979, Steriotou 1997) the locationof the known fortifications of Rethymno from all chronologicalperiods were 3-dimentionally recreated ( fig. 5 ). In addition, thebuildings inside the Fortezza were raised to a specified height,giving the ability to the user to perform virtual tours in the area( fig. 6 ). Fig. 5. The Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman fortifications of Re-thymno, visualized by the combination of rasters and vectors in 3-dimensional mode. Fig. 6. 3D visualization of the Venetian Fortezza and the enclosedbuildings Finally a third option is given to the advanced user of the sys-tem. A 3-dimentional map, which combines the Digital ElevationModel of the wider Rethymno area, the buildings raised in 3dimensions according to the number of floors and the 3-dimentional recreation of the fortifications of the town, can beused to perform viewshed analysis in order to examine the cover-age of the surrounding passages.  4 Conclusions The paper is dealing with a demonstration project designed forthe management of cultural heritage within the urban context of modern European cities. Although the problem is well defineddue to the accelerated pace of construction works and the lack of preservation of the historical monuments of high historical value,the process of management of the historical resources has be-come a difficult task.The particular sytem has tried to introduce a geographicallyregistered database, which includes information related to thenatural environmental settings, the historical monuments andbuildings, and the real estate and public works monitoring. In thisway, urban development can follow a specific line of action pro-viding a strategic support in the preservation of monuments,along with a digital mapping product for the spatial distributionof them, accompanied by a number of related information relatedto the current “ownership” of the land or building, the preserva-tion status, the re-development proposals, etc.When fully in use, the operating system (consisted of the data-base and the GIS) can be used from many different users :- The Municipality can use it to protect the monuments andmonitor the construction interventions within the limits of the Old Town and to provide an interactive map with thesights of the town for tourists,- The archaeological service can use it as an archive for themonuments of the town.- Individual researchers can use it as a tool to locate topog-raphic and architectural information for the Venetian andOttoman monuments.The system can be easily applied to other municipalities aim-ing at the management of the historical monuments within theurban environment of small or large town and cities. In the fu-ture, part of the database is planned to be installed in user-friendly interface in the internet, serving the geographically ref-erenced information through a Web_GIS platform. References BERNADES P. ET AL., 1996. Virtual Reality, Urban Planning andHistorical Town Centres, athttp://www.ccg.pt/novidades/publicacoes/virtual96.pdf  BIANCHINI R., 2001. A GIS for the historical city of Harar in Ethio-pia, Socio-Economic Research and Geographic Information Systems– The digital city : a Euroconference – Granada, Spain 9-14 June2001, athttp://www.shef.ac.uk/~scgisa/granada/programme.htm.  BOERNER W., 2001. Vienna Archaeological GIS (VAGIS) : A ShortOutline of a New System for the Stadtarchaeologie Wien, ComputingArchaeology for Understanding the Past, CAA2000, Proceedings of the 28 th Conference, Ljubliana April 2000, Stancic Z. & VeljanovskiT. (eds.), BAR International Series 931: 149-152.BOERNER W., 2002. 2000 Years of Town Planning in Vienna, Ar-chaeological Informatics : Pushing the Envelope, CAA2001, Pro-ceedings of the 29 th Conference, Gotland April 2001, Burenhult G. &Arvidsson J. (eds.), BAR International Series 1016 : 13-19.CAMPAGNA M., 2001. Virtual Info-Desk as support in urban re-development management : A case study on historical sity centres,Socio-Economic Research and Geographic Information Systems –The digital city : a Euroconference – Granada, Spain 9-14 June 2001,athttp://www.shef.ac.uk/~scgisa/granada/programme.htm.  CAMPAGNA M., COLAVITTI A-M., DEPLANO G., 2001., The GISsupport to sustainable re-development action management in archeo-logical-sensitive urban areas, Workshop 6 – Archaeologie und Com-puter, Vienna 5-6.9.2001, athttp://www.arhaeologie-wien.at/workshop/papers_main_en.htm. DIMAKOPOULOS I., 1977. Ta spitia tou Rethymnou, Symvoli stiMeleti tis Anagennisiakis Architektonikis tis Kritis tou 16ou kai tou17ou Aiona, Ministry of Culture (ed), Athens.HARRIS E.C., 2001. GIS and the future of archaeological recording,Workshop 6 – Archaeologie und Computer, Vienna 5-6.9.2001, athttp://www.arhaeologie-wien.at/workshop/papers_main_en.htm. KALOKYRIS K., 1998. I Archaia Rithymna, 2 nd edition, Mitos (ed).MALAGARI A. – STRATIDAKIS CH. 1995. Rethymno : Odigos giatin Poli, 4 th edition, Athens.STERIOTOU I., 1979. Oi Venetikes Ochyroseis tou Rethymnou (1540-1646), Symvoli sti Frouriaki Architektoniki tou 16ou kai 17ouAiona, vol. I & II, Thessaloniki.STERIOTOU I., 1997. I Fortezza tou Rethymnou : I Amyna tis Polis tinEpochi tis Venetokratias , TAPA (ed), Athens.
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