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Heat Wave Closes Historic Landmarks in Europe

Heat Wave Closes Historic Landmarks in Europe
Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

Greece was forced to close the Acropolis to visitors over the weekend as temperatures reached 118F.

Over the weekend, extreme heat in Europe prompted warnings from several governments, and forced the temporary closure of a historic monument.

Over half of Germany was under a heat advisory during the weekend. In Cyprus, the meteorology department warned of dangerous heat on Saturday, with temperatures reaching 110 degrees Farenheit (44 Celsius).

Italy’s Health Ministry issued red alerts for several cities, including capital and popular tourist destination, Rome. While there were no official closures, visitors and locals alike were urged to avoid many of the outdoor attractions, including the Colosseum, by staying inside and avoiding direct sunlight.

In Greece, the debilitating temperatures reached 118F (48C), prompting the closure of one of the capital city Athens' most recognizable monuments, the Acropolis. At noon on Friday, the landmark was closed in the name of "protecting" visitors.

The 11,000 visitors already at the monument when the closure was announced were ushered through, urged to move quickly as the Hellenic Red Cross distributed over 33,000 water bottles to those present. First-aid rescue workers were on the site, setting up shading at the main entrance to the temples.

Over 22,000 visitors still made the grueling trek uphill to the monument that day, causing men, women, and children alike to collapse from heat exhaustion.

The monument was closed even earlier in the day on Saturday, with the Greek culture ministry making the decision “because the stones and marbles have now absorbed so much heat."

Annali Kemp, a tourist visiting the country with her two teenage children and husband, Steve, told The Guardian that their experience seeing the monument that day was unlike any other on their trip.

“To think it’s only mid-July and we’ve got August to come,” the 53-year-old said, with the publication noting she was red in the face from climbing up the hill to the monument. “We were squished like sardines at some point up there but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

She added: "God was it hot, so hot that for the first time – and please feel free to write this – I didn’t have any hot flushes.”

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