"Just stunning, basically........." Kourion by leics
Kourion Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 43 photos
The only reason I hired a car was to see this place, and I'm glad I did. I took the B6 road down, much nicer than the motorway in my opinion, winding my way through the hills past Aphrodite's birthplace and through the villages until I reached the Sovereign Base area. Which is fascinating, because it's like suddenly being back in a far sunnier UK: better road surface suddenly, lamp-posts as at home, rows of council-type-houses behind wire fences, green grass on the verges......very weird but strangely reassuring!
On the way to Kourion proper you pass the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, which is a fascinating little place. Apollo Hylates was the god of both woodland and pre-Christian Kourion, so he was a pretty important chap and his sanctuary reflects this. Some of the temple has been reconstructed, but the impressive baths, dormitory buildings, palaestra (gymnasium area) and the still-with-its-original-paving processional way are visible in their original form.
A bit further along the road is a rather impressive stadium, which once seated 6000 people. Not much of the seating is left now, but the sheer size of the place gives a clear idea of its importance. The sixth-century basilica nearby wasn't open when I visited, which was a bit disappointing. It's been fenced-off (probably a good thing) so I could only see it through gaps in the wire.
So onward to Kourion, a massive partially-excavated ancient city set on a bluff above the sea, with superb views and much to see.
There is evidence of settlement in the area from the Neolithic (around 4500BC) onwards but what is visible today dates mainly from Roman times (3rd/4th century particularly). There are beautiful mosaics, a huge and hugely-impressive agora (market-place), elaborate bath-houses, and early Christian basilica as well as several private houses, including one damaged by an earthquake in which several bodies were found. It was this (?) earthquake in the mid-fourth century which flattened the city and led to its demise.
Much of the site is still unexcavated, and I am certain that many more treasures (not literally) lie buried there. It's already a wonderful place to explore, with magnificent coastal views, but obviously popular; in season, it would be best to get there either early or late, for I am sure it gets crowded with visitors. Being there in December, I could explore at my leisure, more-or-less alone; a far more atmospheric and pleasant experience.
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- Pros:A totally unmissable site
- Cons:You need a car (or a daytour) to get there
- In a nutshell:Simply stunning
Ancient Kourion was a massive place before it was flattened by an earthquake, and only a tiny part of it has been... more travel advice
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