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  • Post published:03/09/2021
  • Post last modified:03/09/2021

Greece is battling an intense heat wave that’s sparking wildfires across the country and forcing key attractions like the Acropolis to close for several hours a day this week.

Hundreds of firefighters have been working to contain the fires burning just outside of Athens, but temperatures soaring above 113 degrees Fahrenheit coupled with strong winds and dry conditions are complicating efforts to subdue the flames, the Associated Press reports.

A government official described Greece’s current heat wave as the worst the country has seen in more than 30 years. The heat wave, which is affecting a large swath of southern Europe, has led to more than 80 fires in a single, 24-hour period in Greece alone, the AP reported. On Tuesday, the smoke and fires were bad enough to not only close the Acropolis — a UNESCO World Heritage destination and one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world — but also to cause evacuations from islands like Evia and Kos.

By late Tuesday, at least 40 fires were still burning, prompting Greek basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo to cancel a planned celebration of his recent NBA championship win with the Milwaukee Bucks. “We hope there are no victims from these fires,” he wrote in a Greek-language tweet posted to his timeline.

Smoke covering Athens centre and the Acropolis, due to fires burning at the foot of Mount Parnes, 30 kilometres north of Athens.

Credit: Louisa Gouliamaki/Getty Images

Meanwhile, in Italy, tourists have been evacuated from beach resorts in Pescara, located on the country’s eastern coast, and Sicily, as more than 800 wildfires were counted over the weekend. More than 200 people were evacuated from Sicily, The Guardian reported.

Residents and tourists are also being evacuated in parts of Turkey, where fires have been burning near tourist destinations, including Bodrum and Antalya. The bodies of two of at least eight victims of Europe’s wildfires were discovered in Antalya, according to The Guardian.

Southern Europe’s extreme heat wave brought temperatures of 117 degrees to Greece on Tuesday, just shy of the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe, CNN reported. The outlet noted that heat warnings have also been issued for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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