"Such a very old city......" Soli City-Site by leics

Soli City-Site Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 15 photos

Soli dates back to the eleventh century BC; it's recorded as paying dues to the Assyrians!

But there is so very little of it visible now. In some ways this is good, for what is hidden beneath the soil and the field terraces is safe and exposing it would mean vast funds for conservation and preservation. That money is not available and, if it were, might be better spent elsewhere (for example, preserving the wonderful and ruinous Gothic churches of Famagusta).

So what can you see now? There is a wonderful and huge (originally with five naves) basilica, one of the first in Cyprus. Its 4th century AD mosaics are wonderful, although their beauty is somewhat masked by a thin layer of dust. The whole basilica floor is covered with wonderful geometric patterns, as if a plethora of Turkish carpets had been laid there. But chief amongst the mosaics is the famous swan, intricate in its construction and still glowing in its beauty.

Later, in the 6th century AD, opus sectile mosaics (geometric patterns made from cut marble pieces) were laid.

More mosaic photos in the travelogue

All of this beauty is (thankfully) covered by a large roof. But much of the rest of the site is less easily accessible and (in winter, at least) really quite overgrown.

Swedish excavations in the 1920s exposed an amphitheatre, temples, the ruins of a palace, an agora (marketplace) and a necropolis (cemetery), all of different periods. Much of what was exposed has been re-covered, or overgrown.

The Roman amphitheatre was built on top of the earlier Greek one, facing the sea with seating for 4000+ people. It has been partially reconstructed.

Canadian excavations in the 1960s unearthed the basilica and the agora, but work stopped in 1974 when partition took place. There is little to see of the exposed agora, although at the time archaeologists found a paved street with colonnading and a nymphaeum (water shrine with fountain).

So much more must still lie underneath the soil.......

And in 2005 North Cypriot archaeologists excavated some of the many tombs in the necropolis.....and one of them had the most beautiful golden leaf diadem, and a golden throne and golden jewellery. This treasure is on display in the Museum of Archaeology & Nature in nearby Guzelyurt (which I have had to place on my Karavostasi page, for Guzelyurt does not exist on VT even under its previous Greek names).

Although so little is exposed, it is worth wandering around Soli. You can see how the field terrace walls include stones from the city (some are based on ancient walls), how the ground is simply stuffed with potsherds......and, if it is the right time of year, it is also an excellent site for finding wild flowers of all sorts.

And, above all, your small entrance fee will help to ensure that the site continues to be at least adequately maintained.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Worth seeking out this once-proud city
  • Cons:You need a car (or a daytour) to get there
  • In a nutshell:Such a very old city......
  • Last visit to Soli City-Site: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated Feb 26, 2011
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