Monuments at Greece's archaeological site of Mycenae have not been damaged by a wildfire that swept through the area, despite the blackening from smoke on the iconic entrance to the ancient citadel, Greece's culture minister said today.
Four water-dropping planes and two helicopters helped dozens of firefighters contain the blaze yesterday after it reached the fringes of one of Greece's most important archaeological sites, 120km southwest of Athens.
The Bronze Age fortified city, whose rulers were key figures in ancient Greek legend, including the Trojan War, flourished centuries before the major Acropolis temples were built in Athens and was a major centre of Mediterranean civilisation.
Smoke from the flames blackened the 3250-year-old Lion Gate, named after the monumental relief sculpture of two heraldic lions flanking a pillar that crowns the entrance to the ancient citadel.
"The damage caused by yesterday's fire was the least possible," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said during a visit to the site today, adding that none of the site's monuments or the Mycenae museum had suffered any damage.
Photos released by the ministry showed no traces of burning inside the site.
"Smoke blackened some walls," Mendoni added. "The problem is (only) aesthetic."
"The Fire Service acted swiftly ... and prevention measures worked: Dry vegetation had all been cleared away," Mendoni said. "That's what saved the monuments."
A spokesman for Greece's main political opposition, the left-wing Syriza Party, questioned the speed of the response by the Fire Service, noting that the fire had entered the site.
The party said it was carrying out a separate inspection and called on the minister to apologise for downplaying the damage.
Mycenae has been closed to visitors but the Culture Ministry said it will reopen today.