The raging forest fires in Greece have also claimed the historic Tatoi Palace, a densely wooded southeast-facing castle located near Athens, which served as the summer palace for the former Greek Royal Family.

A number of unidentified artefacts from the royal palace were also lost in the fire last week. The fire had moved dangerously close to the deserted palace by August 5, which is why the Greek Ministry of Culture issued an order of a full evacuation of the entire collection at the palace as well as documents and other objects of great value to save them from the fire.

The Ministry removed thousands of items from the Greek royal family's former residence as the fire was approaching the castle. However, two containers containing some artefacts could not be saved. Only a few hours after they cleared the building, reports came that the fire had entered the royal park and that the royal cemetery by the palace was already engulfed in it.

The objects inside the containers which were destroyed could not be identified as the devastating fire continue to wreak havoc in the country. Chairman of the Association of Friends of Tatoi, responsible for the management and preservation of the former summer residence, said that it will never be known which belongings were in the two containers that went up in flames, reports Royal Central.

"We will never know what was in these containers. And I leave it to people's imagination to understand why we will never know," the chairman said.

"The items went from container to container. So I have no idea what the exact contents of the burnt containers were. It could be papers, clothes, artwork, wood, handicrafts, carpets, etc., that were destroyed by the fire," he further explained.

Apart from the artefacts, several buildings on the estate were also destroyed in the fire. Most of the forest area as well as parts of the royal cemetery also fell victim to the wildfire, which has already destroyed more than 100,000 hectares of forests and farmland. A picture shared on a Facebook page dedicated to the restoration of the ancient royal house showed burnt trees on the backdrop of the castle.

President of the Association of Friends of Tatoi said the situation was extremely critical when the fire first claimed the palace grounds, but hours later the wind changed direction and flames moved away from it.

Tatoi Palace previously also went up in flames in 1916 during World War I. In June 2007, the Government of Greece said it intended to turn the former palace and grounds into a museum. However, it was reported in September 2012 that the government now intended to sell the palace and its estate in the face of mounting financial pressure. The "Friends of Tatoi Association" was also founded the same year and aims to restore the former royal estate and convert it to a museum and public venue, while facing political indifference and lack of money.

An idea was pitched to convert the former royal estate to a private winery or a resort with restaurants and barbecue, but was met with criticism by private persons and organisations who said it would erase the historical elements of the property. In late 2019, the Greek Ministry of Culture finally moved ahead with plans to finally restore the palace. Plans are centred on the conversion of the main house into a museum of the royal family, as well as the construction of a new luxury hotel and spa.

Greece fire
Hundreds of homes and many businesses have been destroyed by fires in Greece. Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP