The sweltering heat in Athens forced its main attraction, the Acropolis, to close to tourists in the afternoon for the second time this month, with plans to open in the cooler hours of the evening. But a strike by workers at that location and others, over dangerous working conditions, is likely to keep it closed in the afternoon while the extreme temperatures continue.

Greece is suffering its second heat wave in as many weeks, with temperatures expected to reach 111 degrees Fahrenheit, or 44 Celsius, in Athens on Sunday. Workers say the heat poses a potential risk to them and visitors, and they stopped working at noon Thursday and Friday and plan to continue doing so until at least Sunday. Their union says they will reassess the situation on Monday.

Speaking to Greek radio on Friday morning, the head of the union, Ioannis Mavrikopoulos, said the temperature on the Acropolis site, home to the gleaming white marble Parthenon monument and few shade trees, reached about 118 degrees Fahrenheit, or 48 Celsius. The Acropolis is perched on a rocky outcrop high above Athens.

Mr Mavrikopoulos claimed that between 20 and 25 visitors a day fainted at the site, adding that similar problems had been reported at two other popular sites: the ancient palace of Knossos on Crete and Ancient Olympia in northern Greece.

The exit means that the Acropolis will be accessible to tourists for only four hours a day, from when it opens at 8am to 12pm. The site had about 21,000 visitors a day this summer, more than a third from last year.

Despite the sweltering temperatures, tourists continued to try to visit the Acropolis, the ancient citadel of Greece, and its magnificent Parthenon monument, known as a model of classical architecture but also for the sculptures that were cut down from the Parthenon in the early 19th century and later sat in the British Museum.

The site attracts millions of people every year, and this summer they waited under canopies set up on the paths up to the Acropolis as Red Cross volunteers handed out bottles of water to keep them hydrated. The turnout appears to have dropped slightly compared to early last week, when televised images showed huge crowds milling around the site.

Visitors who booked in advance but were unable to gain access to the Acropolis will be able to use their tickets at any time over the next year, a Culture Ministry official said.

Forecasts suggest that Greece will see a small drop in temperatures on Monday, but this is expected to be followed by a third heat wave two days later. With sweltering temperatures continuing well after sunset, it is likely that the country’s archaeological sites will continue to limit afternoon visits.

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