Spring Break: Ancient Kourion

Making up a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paphos, Ancient Kourion was our last stop before heading to Limassol. Unfortunately, our directions to the site were pretty vague and GPS provided little help. We ended up first on a stretch of beach whose restaurants were closed due to it being the winter season. While wandering we did find an archaeological site, the Basilica on the Kourion Beach, though not the entire park we had been searching for. Unfortunately, we were unable to get close to this site, as there were chain-link fences surrounding the location.

The remains of the Basilica on the Kourion Beach.

By the time we found the actual archaeological park, located on the cliffs above the Basilica, we had less than an hour to explore the entire site. I chose to walk as fast as I could to see as much as I could in the time we had. The Eustolios House featuring mosaics, dating, as it is seen today, to the third and fourth centuries AD, was the closest attraction to the car park.

The first mosaic we saw the bust of a young woman in a medallion holding a measuring instrument equating to a Roman foot. According to the inscription around her head, the young woman is Ktisis, and she personifies the creation of the world. The rest of the mosaic floor features geometric motifs with the exception of a partridge.

A mosaic portraying Ktisis, a personification of the creation of the world.
The ruins of the Eustolios House with fragments of geometric mosaics.
A mosaic of a partridge at the edge of the Eustolios House with the Kourion Peninsula in the background.

Right next to the Eustolios House was the reconstructed Theatre, originally accommodating an audience of 3,000. Underneath the theatre are rock-cut chambers, likely used as storerooms for the needs of animal combatants.

The Theatre at Ancient Kourion.

The next block of ruins I looked at was the Kourion Episcopal Basilica. One of the most important Early Christian monuments on the island, it dates back to the beginning of the fifth century AD. The monument was destroyed during the second Arab raid around 654 AD.

One of the remaining arches with the ocean in the background.
The remains of the Episcopal Basilica at Ancient Kourion.
Destroyed columns in the Basilica complex.

Another site with visible mosaics was the House of Gladiators. A luxurious private house or alternatively a small public training ground, it is named after the mosaics represented. It was constructed in the second half of the third century AD, but destroyed by earthquakes in the fourth.

A fragmentary mosaic featuring gladiators.
A mosaic showing two gladiators fighting.

The last of the main attractions I focused on was the public baths. Dating all the way back to 50 BC, with various additions in the following years, it consists of cold, warm, and hot chambers and a complete hypocaust, or heating, system.

The remains of the heating system in the public baths.
A hexagonal swimming basin that formed a part of the cold baths.

One thought on “Spring Break: Ancient Kourion

  1. It looks as though you crammed a lot of sight-seeing into a short amount of time. Beautiful mosaics, arches, and countryside. Love seeing the remains of the heating system for the baths.

    Liked by 1 person

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