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The ancient city of Kourion, Cyprus: history, location, attractions and interesting facts

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Just to see one Kourion, Cyprus is visited annually by tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world. Such popularity is facilitated by the presence of an antique amphitheater, well-preserved ruins of buildings and unique mosaics. The monument allows you to get a visual representation of the daily life of the inhabitants of the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire.

What is Kourion - historical background

The city was founded by the inhabitants of ancient Greek Argos, located on the Peloponnese - a peninsula in the southern part of modern Hellas. This was the period of Mycenaean colonization, which determined the appearance of the region for many centuries to come. It lasted from the XIV to XII centuries BC and replaced the cultures that existed on the island from the Neolithic era.

Since its foundation, the city has not stopped its continuous development. Periods - geometric, archaic, classical, and the accompanying archaeological cultures, peacefully replaced each other. This is evidenced by the necropolises excavated by archaeologists. The city was an independent state until the conquest of Alexander the Great, who annexed it to his power, along with all of Cyprus. The Hellenistic period (325-58 BC) was marked by the heyday of culture. The main architectural monuments belong to it.

In 58 BC, Kourion became part of the Roman Empire. The new status has little changed the course of life of local residents. They only had to pay Roman taxes. The decisive impact was a series of devastating earthquakes. They happened in 15, 75, 332, 342, 360 and 365 years of our era. The largest of them resulted in the destruction of most of the city and the subsequent implementation of two large construction programs: one in the I-III centuries and the other in the V century.

In the fourth century, Christianity spreads in the city, which is reflected in art. Christian symbolism appears in mosaics - images of a dove, fish, inscriptions and crosses. Archaeologists have revealed signs of the establishment of episcopal authority in Kourion.

Ancient archaeological site - amphitheater. It was first built in the II century BC, but already in the Roman period the theater was rebuilt. The new building appeared due to the earthquake of 77 AD, which seriously damaged the structure. The new amphitheater became larger and accommodated up to 3.5 thousand inhabitants. In addition to dramatic performances, gladiator fights were also organized here.

The amphitheater finally disappeared from the face of the earth in 365, when an earthquake off the coast destroyed not only this ancient city, but also many other settlements, both on the island and in the Eastern Mediterranean as a whole. Unlike the theater, the city was restored over the next two centuries, but already next to the old settlement. Thus, the disaster made it possible to preserve, for example, unique mosaics.

Excavations in ancient Kourion have brought other discoveries. Today, visitors will find the remains of ancient dwellings with mosaics, the ruins of temples and other artifacts that clearly illustrate the life of the ancient inhabitants of Cyprus. Many monuments are kept in the metropolitan Archaeological Museum.

How to get to Kourion

The attraction is 15 kilometers from Limassol. There are three ways to get to this archaeological reserve:

  • by bus,
  • Taxi,
  • car - own or rented.

Public transport in Cyprus is a long way, and cars are fast and comfortable.

By bus from Limassol

There are two main ways to get public transport from Limassol to Kourion:

In the first case, tourists board bus number 16 at the Stary Hospital stop. This takes into account the large intervals that are typical for Cypriot public transport. Direct bus routes that allow you to get anywhere without transfers are not only a rarity, but they also require waiting. Because of what, tourists often prefer public transport taxis or car rental.

The second method allows you to get to the archaeological site in two ways:

First of all, take bus number 30 to My Mall stop, from the waterfront information center. The journey takes a quarter of an hour. At the indicated stop, they transfer to bus No. 18 - he is going to Kourion. The journey to the ancient city takes about an hour. This is due to the fact that the road winds through the streets and coastal hills. The interval of the eighteenth route is also about an hour.

Bus No. 30 is the main public transport route in Limassol. With it, tourists visiting the city, because the route runs along one of the main streets, parallel to the promenade. At the same time, it has a small interval in comparison with intercity routes.

Self machine

As noted above, renting a car or taxi services is a quick and comfortable way to get around the island, which means you can get to Kourion. If by public transport the journey takes more than an hour, then in the case of a car - no more than 15 minutes. Unlike the bus, cars are allowed to enter the territory of the archaeological site, where parking is equipped, the parking on which is included in the price of the entrance ticket.

The direction from Limassol is west, towards Paphos. In Cyprus, applications with online maps are actively working, helping tourists not to get lost among various attractions.

Renting a car in Cyprus is easy. To do this, use both international Internet services and local offices. A week on an average level of comfort a car spends a little more than one and a half hundred euros and another fifty euros for gasoline. Landlords provide information on technical specifications, fuel consumption and car class. Renting a car for several people will cost less than regular use of public transport.

What to see in the surroundings

Near Kourion are other attractions of Cyprus. In particular, near the castle of Kolossi, the most famous in the south of the island. Here is the best beach of Limassol.

A little further is the village of Pissouri, popular among foreign tourists. This is due to the presence of a comfortable beach and a common tourist infrastructure.

In the immediate vicinity of the village are Aphrodite Rocks, popular among tourists in Cyprus in the summer. Those who want to see the cliffs without too much noise are recommended to visit them out of season. They are especially picturesque at sunset.

The location of various attractions allows you to combine their overview during one trip, in case the tourist moves on a rented car.

Conclusion

Kourion is one of the most interesting ancient monuments of Cyprus. Here you can look at the preserved ruins of the ancient Greek city with an amphitheater, which was rebuilt in the middle of the last century and where performances are staged. It is located near Limassol, which allows you to get to the monument in a maximum of an hour.

Geographical position

Ancient Kourion (Cyprus) is located on a hill. It can be seen from afar. The ancient city is located near Limassol - only 70 km from it. The first ruins in Kourion were discovered in the second half of the 19th century. Excavations continued for more than a century, but intermittently. The last antiquities here were discovered in the early eighties of the last century. Today it is a rather interesting place, and not only for lovers of antiquity, but also for those who like to arrange unusual photo shoots.

According to researchers, Kourion appeared in the XI century BC. This city is mentioned in the writings of ancient Greek writers, including Herodotus. The first inhabitants of Kourion were Agros Greeks. Where did the name of the city come from? Later, after Herodotus, many chroniclers claimed that Curio was named after a certain ruler named Curios. Hence also other historical names, for example, "Curia Kingdom". The omniscient Herodotus adhered to the same point of view, the opinion of which was mainly referred to by later researchers.

During the excavation, a golden rod was discovered, which, presumably, was created in the XI century BC. This finding confirms the opinion that Kourion was founded in the 11th-12th centuries BC.

City on the hill

In ancient times, people wandered more and more. For a long time to settle in any territory they could make only a special event. Indeed, for a comfortable life, it was necessary not only to build a city, but also to protect it from the invasion of enemies. Today it is not known to whom of the ancients it came to found a city on the site of a modern archaeological park. One can only speculate. But why exactly they chose a place on the hill is not difficult to guess.

The ancient city was founded in an extremely picturesque area. Olive groves against the backdrop of the sea landscape - what could be more beautiful? However, the founders of Kourion did not choose these lands for aesthetic reasons. The fact is that, being on a hill, it is difficult not to notice the approaching enemy. A city built on a hill is much easier to guard against invasions than the one in the lowlands.

But even a convenient geographical location was not the only reason for the creation of Kourion. People in those days lived thanks to agriculture, and therefore to exist on infertile lands was for them akin to death. And in the city of Kurgan grapes and olive grew in abundance. In addition, the Kuris River flowed nearby, the water from which was used for household needs. In addition, residents had the opportunity to engage in fishing.

Visiting Cyprus, but not visiting Kourion is simply impossible. After all, the island is directly related to the legendary Hellas, the legends and legends of which are likely to never be forgotten. Even a person who has never heard of the great ancient Greek writers will be interested in the ancient city of Kourion. Here once the events of the famous Trojan War took place, which is dedicated to more than one modern film with the participation of Hollywood stars.

Cyprus is considered the birthplace of Aphrodite - one of the main Greek goddesses. From the ancient city only columns and walls have been preserved. Just a century and a half ago, they were under a thick layer of earth. As already mentioned, the scientists carried out the first serious excavations in the middle of the 19th century. Before telling about the main attractions of Kourion, it is worth setting out one entertaining story.

Gold digger find

Kourion was discovered by accident. In the 19th century, there were many adventurers and gold miners in Europe. One of them once went to Cyprus in order to find there a huge treasury, about the presence of which he once heard in a conversation the same “black diggers” in his conversation. This man’s name was Luigi di Chesnola. It is worth saying that the Italian enjoyed a very ugly reputation, but, despite this, made a good career. He was sent to Cyprus, where he took the post of American consul. Here, in parallel with the main activity, de Chesonala began the search for treasures. And found. The American consul, of course, appropriated a certain part of the treasures. But thanks to the determination, curiosity and, perhaps, greed of this person, Cyprus, and the whole world, has acquired a unique attraction.

Sights

Today, the ancient city is an archaeological park. Entrance here is paid. The ticket costs about four and a half euros. According to the reviews of tourists, visiting this territory without an escort of a guide or without a video guide is not interesting. If you have a desire to get acquainted with the ancient places on your own, you should collect at least brief information about the main attractions in advance. In this case, the tour will be informative, interesting.

  • House of Achilles.
  • Christian basilica.
  • The home of the gladiators.
  • Housing of Efstolia.
  • Public baths.
  • Antique Theater.

Achilles House

The ancient Greeks believed in all kinds of deities. This faith played an important role in public life. Their literary works surprisingly combined historical events and real people with legends and mythical characters. Probably, the ancient Greeks themselves could no longer distinguish where fiction and truth.

Achilles was a hero. That is, not just a person capable of feat, but the son of God and a mortal woman. But, of course, he was also a brave warrior, as evidenced by numerous legends dedicated to the Trojan War. True, the heel failed him. Why did the strongest of the strongest have a weak spot that prevented him from winning the last battle? According to one legend, the woman who gave birth to her was embarrassed by the fact that she was the mother of the hero. And therefore, in order to make sure that her son, a mere mortal (or vice versa), dipped him several times into the River Styx. As a result, the baby became even stronger, but the miraculous power did not spread to the heel held by his mother.

The home of Achilles, located in Kourion, is not directly related to this character. The house once belonged to a wealthy Roman nobleman, perhaps more than once passed from one kind to another. The name of the building was due to the mosaic images on the walls. The motives of the Trojan War and the events of the life of Achilles are the main in the design of this house. And precisely because, before setting off on a trip to Kourion, one should recall the famous legends and legends.

House of gladiators

This architectural monument is located near the home of Achilles. It is a Roman house equipped with a courtyard, which is surrounded by covered galleries. One can only guess what happened a few millennia ago in these walls. But like the house of Achilles, this building is decorated with mosaics. Pictures on the walls of the architectural monument reflect gladiatorial battles. Hence the name.

Christian basilica

Of all the provinces of the Roman Empire, Kourion was the first to adopt Christianity. Of course, this did not happen in one day. Local people refused paganism for quite some time. The Christian Basilica is an architectural monument that dates back to the early stage of Christianity. What is a basilica? This is a quadrangular structure, consisting of naves of various heights. The basilica in Kourion, according to archaeologists, was built in the V century.

Residence of Evstolia

The large house, located in the south-west of the city, was founded at about the same time as the basilica. The inhabitant of this dwelling was an exemplary Christian. This is evidenced by numerous graffiti. Eustolius believed that it should not be valued material wealth, but spiritual. The walls of the house are decorated with mosaics not with pagan motifs, but with Christian ones.

Kourion Amphitheater (Cyprus)

This building dates back to the second century BC. As a result of research, it turned out that the theater was rebuilt several times in the era of the Roman Empire. This building is located in the south of the city. Like other ancient theaters, it is located on a semicircular hillside.

The largest earthquake in the fourth century wiped out all the ancient Greek temples from the face of the earth. This tragedy put an end to paganism, opened a new period in the history of mankind - the Christian. Fortunately, the few architectural monuments located in Kourion enabled scientists in the 19th and 20th centuries to conduct large-scale studies, thanks to which we today know about the life and customs of the ancient era.

The archaeological park has covered gazebos. Here you can buy soft drinks.The city plan is displayed on the diagram, which can be found at the entrance to the museum. How to get to Kourion (Cyprus)? It is most convenient to take bus number 16 from the nearest city - Limassol. You need to get off at the Old Hospital stop.

Kourion (Cyprus) reviews are admired. But tourists warn: you should not go here with children. The only minus of traveling through the ancient city is the heat, which is not easy for a child and an adult with poor health to endure.

Label for the navigator:

Kourion (from the ancient Greek Kourion) - A large ancient city-state of Cyprus, located near Limassol. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus due to the good preservation of mosaics and, in part, buildings. From the archaeological park of Kourion offers a beautiful view of the sea, and below is a wonderful beach, equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas.

HISTORY OF KURION

The oldest traces of human settlements in this region date back to the Neolithic and date back to the middle of the fifth millennium BC. There is evidence that Mycenaeans lived here in the XIII-XII centuries BC, they arrived in Cyprus for precious copper (the main evidence is the famous golden rod of Kourion, found in the tomb, dating from the XI century BC, is currently stored in the Museum in Nicosia Cyprus).

The city whose ruins we observe in the archaeological park was founded in the XII century BC by the ancient Greeks who arrived on the island. According to Herodotus (“History” book V, chapter 113), the inhabitants of Kourion themselves considered themselves descendants of the Achaean (Argos) Greeks.

The settlers chose the ideal place for the foundation of the city: it is located on a 70-meter cliff with steep edges, on the banks of the open harbor, which creates additional natural protection for the city. On the other hand lies a fertile valley irrigated by the waters of the Kuris River.

The strongest earthquake of 365 virtually destroyed the entire city and its population. The city was rebuilt again. In the 7th century, Kourion was destroyed and plundered by Arab pirates.

The first archaeological site in Kourion was begun in 1873, by the famous treasure hunter, American consul in Cyprus, Luigi Palma di Chesnola. Many finds illegally excavated and exported to the United States now adorn the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Official excavations were undertaken by the museums of the University of Pennsylvania (USA) in 1933. Later, he joined the Department of Antiquities, established in Cyprus, as well as the American Universities of Missouri and Maryland.

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