Greece's Temple of Athena Nike restoration complete

Builders have completed another stage of restoration of the Acropolis in Athens with the removal of scaffolding from the temple of Athena Nike, the head of renovation efforts said Friday.

"The entrance to the Acropolis is free of all scaffolding, a sight not seen since the end of the 1970s," Maria Ioannidou said, urging tourists to take advantage of it before more work begins on the Parthenon.

Overlooking the Propylaea, the small Ionic monument was the last site to be restored under a project which started in 2001 at a total cost of 42.6 million euros (54.7 million dollars).

Work on the temple, which required dismantling it, was delayed by damage to its marbles - inflicted over time and during 19th century restorations.

Separate restorations of the Propylaea and Parthenon were completed in December and May respectively.

But the Parthenon will again be covered in scaffolding and surrounded by cranes for work on its western part to transfer six metopes, or sculptured marble blocks, threatened by pollution, to the Acropolis museum.

The Greek government promised in May to continue the restoration, despite a crippling financial crisis, with the help of European funds.

Ioannidou estimates that archaeologists have at least a decade of work ahead of them.

The buildings on the Acropolis, the hill overlooking Athens, date from the fifth century BC, a golden era for Athenian democracy, under leader Pericles.