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As Greece slowly eases its lockdown restrictions, Acropolis in Athens reopens after a two-month closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The ancient archaeological site welcomes visitors with improved safety measures. By Upasana Singh
The Acropolis—an ancient citadel located on a rocky hill above the city of Athens is among 200 open-air archaeological sites that have reopened for the public in Greece. President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was one of the first few visitors to tour the site last week. She celebrated being able to “visit the site again in a traditional way” after virtual visits were made available online for those who wished to see the monument under lockdown.
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Fully equipped with new safety measures, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni was also present at the opening. According to the culture ministry, separation screens have been put in place and archaeological sites have been disinfected to negate any risks of spreading the virus. As per a report, visitors including journalists, employees, and a few tourists were told to wear face masks and maintain a distance of 1.5 meters.
On Monday, Medoni said that the country’s new tourism slogan will be “Security First”, a play on the pre-pandemic “Heritage First” phrase. She added that hand sanitizers and face masks will be distributed to all visitors at the entrance, and social distancing will be encouraged with markers on the grounds.
One of the most important ancient sites in the world—the Acropolis—can accommodate around 200 people at a time. However, with new rules and strategies in place, only a limited number of people will be allowed to visit the site. Large groups with a guide will not be permitted to enter.
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The Acropolis has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The construction of its flat top dates as far back as the Bronze Age. After the Persians attacked and burned the monuments in 480 BC, Pericles initiated a massive building project that lasted 50 years, which has come to be regarded as the Golden Age of the Acropolis. However, the building with its temples was destroyed again by invaders, including the Venetians and the Turks. It was only after the Greek War of Independence in 1822 that the Acropolis was returned to the Greeks.
While the famous site is open again, museums in Greece will not be open until June 15. The country’s authorities are keen to resume its tourism sector as it is a major economic engine for Greece that has been adversely affected by the global pandemic.