Episcopal Precinct of Kourion, Greek mosaics, International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama, Kourion, The Coastal Basilica, The House of Achilles, The House of Eustolius, The House of Gladiators, The Northwest Basilica, The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates
The day was even hotter than the previous one. The sun did not have to fight with a shred of a cloud on a vivid blue sky. Our rented car has already made the way into Troodos Mountains and the Cape Lara beach, so we have decided that a little bit of a less challenging road is in order now. The gigantic archaeological site – Kourion, located on the south western coast of Cyprus – about 13 km west of Limassol, was on agenda anyway and the road looked rather peaceful and boring, for a change.
The site was huge! Full of history and ancient ruins you can walk about for ages, being struck by its beauty and incredible human talent. Some were restored to its former glory – like The Theatre – erected in the 2nd century BC. It is used today for open air performances and as a venue for the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama. Some of the ruins were well preserved, like the House of Achilles, with accessible stairs build around for the visitors to see beautiful mosaics floors and hide from the sun.
The grand and splendid House of Achilles, located close to the entrance to the city, welcomed us with open arms. We felt like a well expected guests. Probably here officials or distinguished visitors were received, before going further into the city, to explore, to enjoy, to meet and have a meal or business meeting. The mosaics on the floor, one of the best preserved in Greek part of Cyprus, were telling the story of mothers love. Thetis, mother of Achilles, dressed him in women’s clothes and tried to hide him among the daughters of King Lykomedes in order to keep him safe from the Trojan War. Unfortunately Odysseus, one of the most deceitful people around, displayed some war weapons along the jewellery pieces and observed Achilles reaction to them. The Trojan War became unavoidable and even mother’s love could not stand a chance against destiny.
Another mosaic, using the beautiful language of perfectly arranged small, colourful stones, shows Zeus kidnapping the young Ganymede. He seduced her under the appearance of an eagle. The Greek gods never were thoughtful, driven by desire like many people. Closer to the human nature more than the God Christianity offered to believe in later.
There is more mosaics hidden on the site – beautifully preserved, showing incredible art of using nature resources to tell the story. To show believes of people living at that time, preserving their love and respect for heroes and gods, their traditions and everyday life struggles. In the House of Gladiators you will see a quite well preserved two panelled mosaic, featuring rare theme of two gladiators and a man standing between them. A moment before the combat captured perfectly with loving hands of an artist.
More mosaics can be seen in The House of Eustolius, the place dedicated entirely to Christ, containing a bath complex and the meeting and dining halls. Here a huge chunk of city business was without a doubt discussed by the citizens of Kourion and their associates. Incredible mosaics patterns can be traced on the floors throughout the whole property, to the delighted eyes of bathing and dressing rooms users, extending into meeting halls and open courtyards. Incredibly beautiful and huge, very well preserved and full of Christianity symbols, like a bird of paradise, are still able to take your breath away. Imagine how magnificent they looked when they were finished and showed to Kourion’s residents and visitors.
There is more to see on this vast archaeological site – the Stadium, Episcopal Precinct of Kourion, The Northwest Basilica and The Coastal Basilica, The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates… You can easily spend there a whole day, wandering between the ruins and admiring unearthly view of the Mediterranean Sea below, observing for decades the grow and decline of the incredible city of Kourion.
The information about the cost of the tickets, opening times and closures can be found here. The best way to get to the side is by car.