Greece: Heatwave closes Acropolis, ancient sites

A tourist takes a selfie in front of the fifth century BC Parthenon temple at the Acropolis hill in Athens, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Greece’s Culture Ministry says that all Greek archaeological sites, including Athens’ internationally famed Acropolis, will shut during the hottest hours of the day from Wednesday, due to a predicted heat wave. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities closed the ancient Acropolis in Athens to visitors for several hours Wednesday along with other popular archaeological sites around the country due to a heatwave.

The Culture Ministry said all archaeological sites closed between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. (1100-1500GMT), and repeated on days when temperatures reach 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit).

Tourists outside the closed gates of the Acropolis Wednesday who were unaware of the closing were disappointed.

“I was really sad because I’ve always wanted to come to Greece and I always wanted to see Acropolis,” said Elisabeth Dickens, 20, from Texas.

“I think it’s good. I wished before we had come up we had checked, but it’s for (people’s) safety,” said Kenneth Van Huss, another Texan.

“If they had opened it, it wouldn’t be enjoyable because it would be too hot.”

During the heatwave, the Culture Ministry said main archaeological sites will open between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (0600-1100GMT) and again from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (1500-1800GMT).

The Acropolis and other ancient sites are major attractions for the country’s vital tourism industry.

According to industry estimates, Greece is on course for a record for tourism arrivals this year, exceeding 28 million visitors.

The heatwave is forecast to continue Thursday and Friday.

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