Greece to allow pets into more than 120 archaeological sites

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo, women wearing face masks walk with their dogs at Areopagus hill, in front of ancient Acropolis hill, as a rainbow is seen in the cloudy Athenian sky. Greece's culture ministry announced on Thursday, April 27, 2023, that pets will soon be allowed into more than 120 archaeological sites across the country, although not in some of the top tourist draws such as the Acropolis in Athens. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File) (Petros Giannakouris, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ATHENS – Pets will soon be allowed into more than 120 archaeological sites across Greece, the country’s Culture Ministry announced Thursday, although not in the Acropolis or some of the other top tourist draws.

The move, unanimously approved by the country’s powerful Central Archaeological Council, will relax current rules which only allow guide dogs for disabled visitors into archaeological sites. The ministry did not specify when the new regulations would be implemented.

The decision is “a first, but important, step toward harmonizing the framework of accessibility to monuments and archaeological sites with the standards of other European countries, where entry rules for pets already apply,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a ministry press release.

The council approved the entry of pets provided they are kept on a leash no more than one meter (3 feet) long, or carried by their owners in a pouch or a pet carrying case. Owners will also need to show their pet’s health certificate and carry the necessary accessories to pick up their animal’s droppings in order to be allowed entry, the ministry said. Larger dogs will have to be muzzled.

But some of the most popular archaeological sites, such as the Acropolis of Athens, Knossos in Crete, Ancient Olympia or Delphi, which tend to get very crowded, will still remain pet-free, as will ancient theaters, temples, graves and monuments with mosaic floors.

Cages will be installed at the entrances of more than 110 other archaeological sites, the ministry said, so owners can park their pets during their visit.

Tourism is one of Greece’s main industries, generating billions of euros in revenue each year.