Athens is going to put limits on how many people can visit their famous Acropolis each day, to prevent overcrowding.

The Acropolis of Athens is Greece’s most popular archaeological site. It features the Parthenon, the Erechtheion temple beside it, the Propulaea gateway, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It draws over 23,000 people a day, over three million a year.

“That’s a huge number,” said Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni. “Obviously tourism is desirable for the country, for all of us. But we must work out how excessive tourism won’t harm the monument.”

The new limits, which will begin on a trial basis in early September, will put hourly entry limits on arriving tourists, and a hard daily cap of 20,000 people. The trial, after undergoing whatever tweaks become necessary, will become permanent in April 2024.

According to visitor statistics, approximately half of the attraction’s foot traffic arrives between 8am and noon, mostly from tour groups and cruise ships. The rest trickle in between noon and 8pm. Under the new limits, three thousand people would be allowed in between 8-9am, 2000 between 9-10am, and other varying numbers for each of the site’s twelve open hours.

Similar caps will be imposed for other popular archaeological sites, Mendoni said. The decision for the Acropolis followed consultations with tour and cruise operators, and was delayed due to Greece’s June 25 general election, she added.

These caps are unrelated to the daytime closures of the Acropolis of Athens and other sites during July – those were due to the massive heat wave that swept Greece, as it was not safe for either workers or queuing tourists.

Limiting the numbers will not prevent most people from seeing the Acropolis up close and personal, but will force the crowds to spread out during the day, ensuring a better experience for everyone and protecting the monument from too many people at once.