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Acropolis closed for full moon

- by Archimedes

Acropolis closed for August full moon.

Greek islands holiday visitors hoping to make a moonlight visit one of the major sites in Athens look set to be disappointed. Greek officials have decided that the Acropolis in Athens, the most popular ancient monuments in the Greek capital, will not open on the night of the August full moon.

The decision follows extensive damage to the site last year when more than 15,000 people visited the Acropolis on August full moon.

By tradition the 'full moon' night, in August, is the only time when archaeological sites in Greece remain open after sunset.

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has given the green light for 60 monuments and museums to stay open on the night of August 13 this year.

But the ancient site of the Acropolis, which dominates the heart of the old city of Athens, has not been included on the list for 2011.

Officials say the large number of visitors has resulted in significant damages to the monument, as well as injuries.

The tradition of opening historic sites on the August full moon started in 1997 when the Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism kept major archaeological monuments sites open to the public after sunset.

Once a year, Greeks and visiting holiday tourists could marvel at the August full moon while sitting next to the Parthenon or the Temple of Poseidon. The monument stayed open until 1am, free of charge.

A string of concerts have been hosted at the Acropolis and at dozens of other sites across the country on the 'full moon' night, with Greek artists performing songs that mainly referred to the moon.

Up to 15,000 people have attended the August full moon event each year, about double the average 7,000 people who visit the Acropolis every day. Almost two million people visit the most famous ancient site in Greece every year.

The August full moon tradition was threatened with cancellation last summer in a pay dispute between the Ministry and guards at the archaeological sites over the extra allowances for working overtime but the row was resolved in time for the event.