(Athens) The Acropolis of Athens closed on Friday during the hottest hours of the day and will also do so on Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. due to the heat wave that is hitting the country as part of the Europe, announced the Greek Minister of Culture.

“For the protection of workers and […] visitors, at least during the hours of ‘peak’ temperatures from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., a suspension of the archaeological site is necessary, “said Lina Mendoni on the public television channel ERT.

In a statement, she then added that the “site closure from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.” would also occur on Saturday.

The minister explained that while temperatures of 40°C to 41°C are expected in Athens on Friday and Saturday, at the top of the Acropolis, “the true temperature felt […] by the body is considerably higher”.

Previously, the Archaeological Ephoria of the city of Athens had announced in a press release the closure during the hottest hours on Friday of the ancient site classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and which is the most visited in Greece.

Around the Sacred Rock, the Ancient Agora or the Ancient Ceramics Cemetery will remain open.

In the middle of the day, in front of the closed ticket offices, some tourists, hats and caps pressed on their heads, were upset for lack of information available on the Acropolis website.

“I’m not really happy, but what can be done? The idea is to go somewhere else and come back at 5 p.m. “when the doors reopen, Serbian tourist Sonya Ivkovic, director of human resources, told AFP. “It would be such a shame not to see him!” »

“We weren’t expecting this, we came and thought it would be open. We just brought water and we were prepared,” added Emelie Den, an Australian doctor. “But it makes sense, it’s really, really hot today.”

The Acropolis site, which has seen a significant increase in the number of visitors in recent months, is normally open from 8 a.m. local to 8 p.m. local.

Greece, like the other countries around the Mediterranean, has been hit since Wednesday by its first heat wave of the summer. Temperatures are expected to exceed 40°C in the north and west of the country, depending on the weather.

The authorities of the country, accustomed to these phenomena, have taken many measures in recent days to deal with this heat wave.

The Red Cross deployed Thursday at the foot of the Acropolis to distribute bottles of water and help tourists who could be victims of sunstroke or fainting.

“We will distribute at least 30,000 500ml bottles of water daily,” Greek Red Cross President Antonios Avgerinos told AFP.

Awnings have also been erected since the start of the week near the entrance counters to protect the thousands of visitors who came to admire the Parthenon atop the Acropolis, a masterpiece of the “classical” era of the Antiquity (5th century BC).

In the middle of the day on Friday, the thermometer showed 39°C in Athens, from 40°C to 42°C in the north and west of the country and 43°C in Thessaly (center) which could reach 44°C, according to the national weather services EMY, which forecast the same temperatures for Saturday.

Faced with this heat wave, the Greek authorities have warned of the high risk of fires, especially in regions where strong winds are expected to blow.

Greece had suffered violent forest fires during the summer of 2021 due to an exceptional heat wave.

The Acropolis, visited by more than 3 million people last year, was then also closed during the hottest hours of the day.