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Greece: Heat forces Acropolis closure for 2nd straight day

June 13, 2024

The UNESCO-listed site in Athens was closed from noon until 5 p.m. local time. Situated atop a hill with no shade, the tourist hotspot is exposed to the elements.

Tourists with an umbrella walk in front of the Parthenon at the ancient Acropolis in central Athens, Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
Authorities closed the Acropolis to visitors from noon on Wednesday and again on ThursdayImage: Petros Giannakouris/AP/picture alliance

Greek authorities closed down the Acropolis in Athens on Thursday afternoon for a second day running as Athens experiences unusually high temperatures for this time of year.

The Culture Ministry said tourists were unable to visit the Parthenon and other ancient masterpieces atop the UNESCO-listed site from noon until 5 p.m. local time (0900 to 1400 GMT).

Temperatures of more than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) were anticipated on Thursday in much of central and southern Greece, including greater Athens, the Cyclades and Crete.

Other Greek archaeological sites in Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and the Peloponnese were also closed as a precautionary measure.

A tourist is helped by first aid personnel from ancient Acropolis site, in central Athens
A tourist is helped by first aid personnel from the ancient Acropolis site in AthensImage: Petros Giannakouris/AP/picture alliance

Wildfires alert

Officials are on alert for wildfires, which have plagued Greece in recent years.

The minister responsible for civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said Thursday's heat posed a particular wildfire risk. "The early start of the heat waves, combined with the dry winter, has led to a very difficult fire season," he said.

The fire service also warned the wildfire threat would remain high on Friday.

Meteorologists have noted it is the earliest heatwave — which for Greece is temperatures exceeding 38 C (100 F) for at least three days — on record.

A tourist uses a hand fan to cool down another one sitting on a bench in front of the Parthenon at the ancient Acropolis, in Athens
The Acropolis saw record numbers visiting in 2023Image: Petros Giannakouris/AP/picture alliance

Authorities in Athens are providing air-conditioned areas to the public and have issued fans to secondary schools where end-of-year and university entrance exams are being held.

Temperatures are expected to drop on Friday and Saturday.

A record number of almost 4 million visitors flocked to the Acropolis last year, as post-COVID tourism thrived.

Greece's top tourist attraction also shut down momentarily in 2023 amid a heat wave, but that was in July, when temperatures in the 40s are less unusual.

Travel tip: How to spend the perfect day in Athens

jsi/msh (AP, AFP)