Greece’s most famous archaeological site, the Acropolis in Athens, has temporarily closed to protect visitors from a scorching heatwave that has engulfed the capital.

The monument, which is home to the Parthenon temple that is visited by millions of tourists every year, was shut between 10am and 2pm GMT on Thursday, authorities said.

Temperatures peaked at 39C (100F) in Athens by midday, however the temperature on Acropolis Hill which overlooks the city is always higher due to its altitude and lack of shade.

“The meteorological service had forecast that the temperature felt on the hill would be forbidding, more than 44C (111.4F),” said a spokeswoman for the Acropolis complex.

The Acropolis was also briefly shut down last year due to intense heat.

The ancient citadel, which is located on a rocky outcrop above the city, contains the remains of several ancient buildings – the most famous being the former temple Parthenon.

Greece saw record tourist arrivals in 2018 of 33 million people and expects a similar number this year.