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Wildfire Forces Greek Heritage Sites, Including Acropolis, To Close

Heatwave and multiple wildfires have forced Greece to close many of its important heritage sites, including the Acropolis at Athens.

Greece is currently facing its worst heatwave in more than 4 decades. The record temperatures have also caused multiple wildfires in the country. On Tuesday, the temperature reached 113 Fahrenheit in Athens, while some other parts recorded 115 Fahrenheit. As a result, the administration has put the public on high alert. People are advised to restrict electricity usage, especially during the day. In many areas, people are forced to leave their homes due to the soaring temperatures.

Palestra, the wrestling arena, at Olympia

The resulting wildfires are threatening the historical and cultural centers of Greece, including those on the island of Evia. The Acropolis located in Athens is now also considered at risk from the wildfires. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel, considered to be built some 3,000 years ago. It still contains the remains of some buildings from that era, making it one of the most valuable archaeological sites in the world. It has now been shut down to protect the tourists and local workers. On the other hand, the Olympia – the ancient site that once hosted the ancient Olympic games – is also at risk from the dry, hot winds blowing in its direction. Emergency services have been deployed to protect the ancient site.

Many consider the current incident as a result of global climate change. While addressing reporters, Nikos Hardalias (Deputy Civil Protection Minister, Greece) said “We are no longer talking about climate change, but a climate threat.” Wildfires have been raging across entire southern Europe recently. The worst-hit has been Turkey, where thousands have fled homes.