Kourion
Kourion Slideshow

Kourion

The ruins of Kourion, near the modern town of Episkopi, are located on one of the most fertile spots on the island, with extensive ruins including well-preserved mosaics, the public baths, the Nymphaeum, the necropolis, the Fountain House, House of Gladiators and House of Achilles.

The most spectacular site at Kourion is the Greco-Roman theatre or forum, completely restored (with the Mediterranean as a backdrop) and is used today for open air musical and theatrical performances.

Looking out over the Mediterranean from its cliff top, Kourion is the most spectacularly located ancient site in Cyprus. First settled by the fierce Mycenaeans, the city reached its apogee in Roman times, as evidenced by remnants of the empire such as its great stadium, theatre and lavish public baths.

As in many of Cyprus's greatest ancient cities, the cults of Aphrodite and Apollo thrived here, and both of these Hellenistic deities have shrines here. Wandering through Kourion's ruins, it is not hard to imagine the city as it must once have been: one of the jewels of the eastern posessions of Rome until its destruction by an earthquake in 365 AD.
  
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  • Roman Theatre. Completely restored, the theatre, with its columns and tiers of seats, is a summer venue for a range of performances, from jazz and classical music to theatrical drama.
  • Roman Baths. Splendid mosaics dating from the Christian era depicting fish, birds and flowers decorate the floors of the Roman baths and the adjoining villa of Eustolios. Also visible is the highly sophisticated hypocaust underfloor heating system.
  • Roman Agora & Nymphaeum. Graceful 2nd century AD pillars of Roman agora (marketplace) and the nymphaeum can still be seen.
  • House of the Gladiators. Roman villa named after its mosaics of gladiators in armed combat who fought in the arena.
  • House of Achilles. Next to the House of the Gladiators, this villa had a striking floor mosaic of Odysseus and Achilles, the Greek heroes of Homer's saga of the Trojan War, and of the rape of the youth Ganymede by the god Zeus.
  • Roman Stadium. Hillside stadium, discovered by archaeologists in 1939, could seat up to 6,000 spectators. Fell into disuse after Kourion was abandoned in 5th century AD.
  • Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. West of Kourion, this complex of temples and shrines was sacred to the sun-god Apollo.
  • Temple of Apollo. This small temple, with simple Doric columns was one of the most sacred shrines of ancient Cyprus. The penalty for touching its altar was to be hurled from nearby cliffs into the sea.
  • Treasury of Apollo. Close to his Temple is the sacred Treasury where priests made votive offerings to Apollo. Next to it are remnants of a shrine dating from 8th century BC.
  • Circular Monument. Ritual processions and sacred dances were held around holy trees planted in 7 rock pits surrounded by a circular mosaic pavement. This is unique in Cyprus but similar ones have been found in other parts of the world.

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