Tombs of the Kings
Duration: Half Day
The beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus is an open air museum just waiting to be explored. The country is steeped with history, which dates back thousands of years over many prolific and turbulent eras, under the rule of many different nations. Hundreds of important archaeological sites have been discovered and preserved in Cyprus over the last century, and new findings are being uncovered every day.
One area of particular historical and archaeological value is Paphos, a beautiful town on the south west coast of the island and the capital of Paphos District. In fact, the area is so important that the whole town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980. This tour will take you to one of Paphos’ most famous archaeological sites − the Tombs of the Kings.
Unfortunately, the name “Tombs of the Kings” is misleading because there is no actual evidence of any royalty having been buried here. Even so, the grandeur and scale of this large burial site for local aristocrats and high officials is certainly worthy of its name. Dating back to the 3rd century BC, this impressive necropolis has been carved out of solid rock and is extremely well preserved.
You will find a maze of majestic mausoleums, columns, courtyards and chambers underground here, reminiscent of Egyptian architecture. Some of the tombs lead down into sunken courts, surrounded by beautiful Doric pillars. When the sunlight shines in, the area looks even more impressive. Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the light and shadows.
Some of the tombs were originally decorated with frescoes, and were used as dwellings or workplaces in the Middle Ages. Others tombs here date back to the Hellenistic period and early Roman period. There are many underground passages on the site, which lead to rooms with niches for individual corpses. Bodies resting here were dressed in expensive clothes and buried with wealthy grave goods, including jewellery and cosmetic boxes. The tombs have been casually explored for centuries, and the site was unfortunately looted of artifacts long before excavations began in the late 1970s.
Archaeologists have discovered a number of items here, however, including ointment containers, a myrtle wreath of gold and Rhodian amphorae. In one tomb, a child had been buried in a terracotta pipe. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site today, but several of the main tombs are open to the public and you can explore the area at your leisure.
This mysterious tour is a fascinating way to explore ancient Cypriot history.
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