The ancient hilltop citadel is the most popular archaeological site in the country.
As crowds of summer tourists descend on Greece, the country has decided to limit the number of visitors to its most popular archaeological site, the Acropolis, to 20,000 people per day.
This year, with the boom in tourism, this fifth-century BCE UNESCO World Heritage site, located atop a rocky hill in the heart of Athens, attracted up to 23,000 people each day. In 2022, annual attendance will reach three million.
“It’s a huge figure,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told Real FM radio. “Obviously, tourism is desirable for the country, for all of us. But we need to find a way to prevent excessive tourism from harming the monument.”
The influx of visitors – up 80% compared to June and early July 2019 and the same period this year – has raised concerns about the long-term preservation of the ancient citadel, famous for housing the Temple of the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Overcrowding also creates bottlenecks among tourists exploring the site.
From September 4, the government-imposed quota will include entry time limits based on the time of day. Currently, about half of visitors arrive before noon in large groups from cruise ships or other organized tours, and spend about 45 minutes at the Acropolis.
“In the past, these cruise ships had the capacity to transport a few thousand people, or the population of a large village,” said Lysandros Tsilidis, president of the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourism and Travel Agencies. . Greek journalist. “Now the ships are so big that they have the size of a small state on board and at least 30 percent of all these passengers will have pre-purchased tickets to visit the Acropolis.”
With the new measures, 3,000 visitors will be admitted when the monument opens at 8 a.m., with an additional 2,000 slots at 9 a.m. and varied allocations throughout the day. The Acropolis closes at 9 p.m.
There are plans to introduce the limits next month on a trial basis. If all goes well, the restrictions will become permanent in April, at which point they will also apply to other archaeological sites across the country.
“The measure will respond to the need to protect the monument, which is the main thing for us, as well as (improve) the visitor experience at the site,” Mendoni said, as reported by the newspaper. Associated Press.
The culture minister, who is a classical archaeologist, controversially installed concrete paths between some Acropolis temples in fall 2021. Her planned expand the site’s Propylaea gateway The desire to improve access to the site has also been the subject of criticism.
This work should be completed in about 10 months, Manolis Korres, the architect who heads the Committee for the Conservation of Acropolis Monuments, told the agency. Guardian.
The Acropolis faces other tourism challenges, in the form of soaring summer temperatures and more frequent heat waves due to climate change. Last month, as the heat reached 118 degrees, the government closed the site, along with other popular tourist attractions, for several hours during the hottest part of the day. He also installed awnings to provide shade to protect visitors from the sun.
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