AFP | | Posted by Zarafshan Shiraz

The Athens Acropolis, Greece’s most visited tourist site, was closed to the public during the hottest hours of Wednesday because of a heatwave sweeping the country.

A view of the Parthenon temple as the Acropolis hill archaeological site is closed to visitors due to a heatwave hitting Athens, Greece, June 12, 2024 (REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

The culture ministry had said the UNESCO-listed archaeological site would close from midday to 5:00 pm (0900 to 1400 GMT), with temperatures expected to reach 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday and Thursday.

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The first heatwave of the year in Greece, regularly hit by searing summer temperatures, is due to peak over those two days, and the ministry said the measure could be extended.

The climate crisis and civil protection ministry has warned of a very high risk of fires in the Attica region around Athens.

Schools will stay closed in several regions of the country on Wednesday and Thursday, including in the capital, while the labour ministry has advised public-sector employees to work from home.

An air-conditioned hall has been opened at Syntagma metro station in central Athens to give the public somewhere to shelter from the heat, the public transport authority said.

The Acropolis was forced to close in July last year during a two-week heatwave unprecedented in its duration.

A record number of almost four million visitors flocked to the site last year, with its popularity boosted in part due to tourists arriving on cruise ships calling in at the nearby port of Piraeus.

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