"So much more to find...and I saw so little......." Kythrea Salamis by leics

Kythrea Salamis Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 21 photos

Ancient Salamis is the most important archaeological site in Cyprus, and its most famous.

A wonderful site, vast in extent and only a small part excavated (which is probably a good thing, for the money for conservation and preservation is simply not available).

I saw so little: the penalty of being part of a tour group. I was there for a couple of hours, but really the site warrants a whole day's visit. It's a kilometre from the car park to the furthest southern extent of the site!

In legend, Salamis dates from the 12th century BC but there is no doubt that by the 8th century BC it was one of the island's city-kingdoms and the first to mint coins.

Its pre-Roman history is complex......you can read more detail elsewhere, should you choose....but although Pafos was the official capital in Roman times, Salamis remained a busy and thriving port. It became capital again in the Byzantine era but later earthquakes, tidal waves and Arab attacks meant that by the 8th century AD the city was fading away.

Although partially excavated pre-partition (and systematically robbed for building stone in antiquity) much of the site still lies under sand dunes. There is a series of small excavations taking place in the summer months, recently uncovering a road and a fishmarket.

The entrance to the site leads first to a vast baths complex.....its size alone tells you just how wealthy and populous the city once was. Baths were always set on the outskirts of settlements, for fear of fire and these in Salamis were once sumptuous indeed, with marble 'opus sectile' flooring, columns, statues, frescoes and mosaics.

Few of the mosaics or frescoes which have been exposed remain visible (some stolen, some destroyed by exposure over the years) but what can still be seen is further indication of the wealth that once was. The Christian fresco in the photo has been sheltered by its position within a dome (and is, in consequence, easily missed).

Other parts of the site which have been excavated include the amphitheatre (again, set on the limits of all settlements). Eighteen rows of seats survive, but it is thought that the amphitheatre originally seated 15000 people...a massive structure.

Two basilica churches are also visible, along with cisterns, another set of baths and an aqueduct (I did not see any of these...no time)

But the most recent excavations, apart from uncovering the road section and fishmarket (and some wonderful carved columns) also demonstrate how much more of the site still lies hidden (see photo).

Salamis is a must-see (as is Kourion in the south). Perhaps, one day, there will be funds available to properly excavate and preserve the site.....but even in its present state it is both evocative and unmissable.

More photos in the travelogue.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Huge, fascinating site
  • Cons:Not easy to access without a car
  • In a nutshell:So much more to find..
  • Last visit to Kythrea Salamis: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated Feb 26, 2011
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leics

“'Take clothes you can layer....' :-)”

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