Wildfire stopped at gate of ancient Greek city

ATHENS (AP) – Greece’s Culture Minister said the archaeological site of Mycenae has not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite blackening the entrance to the ancient citadel.

Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze on Sunday at the edge of one of Greece’s most important archaeological sites, some 120 kilometres southwest of Athens.

The Bronze Age fortress city flourished centuries before the major Acropolis monuments were built in Athens and was a major centre of Mediterranean civilisation.

Flames blackened the 3,250-year-old stone-built Lion Gate, the entrance to the ancient city. “The damage caused by yesterday’s fire was the least possible,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site yesterday.

“The Fire Service acted swiftly… and prevention measures worked: dry vegetation had all been cleared away. That’s what saved the monuments.”

Mycenae has been closed to visitors but Mendoni said it will be re-opened soon.

A plane drops water during a wildfire in the ancient site of Mycenae, some 140 kilometres from Athens. PHOTO: AP