There are several sites of interest for visitors around Limassol (15-30 minutes driving distance). First and foremost is the Kourion classical archeological site, one of the best-preserved and most striking remains not only of Cyprus but the Mediterranean in general. Kourion was one of the ancient city-kingdoms of Cyprus, and has remains from Mycenean, Classical Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine times. '
As one approaches Kourion, one immediately notices its prominent location: on top of a mount, facing the sea, where cliffs meet a beach down below. One of the pictures shows a view from the Kourion site atop the bluff, looking westwards and south; Kourion beach can be clearly seen (not a bad beach from most accounts either).
Besides its location, Kourion posseses other attributes, starting with a beautifully preserved (ahem…, well reconstructed) classical theater whose tiers of seats have a view of the Mediterranean as a backdrop for the performance stage. Kourion also has some very well-preserved Roman-era mosaics. Although these are not as extensive or complex as some of the mosaics found at the UNESCO site of Nea Pafos, the ones that can be found are beautiful and are one of the outstanding
features of Kourion.
Another interesting feature of Kourion are the remains of thermal baths: one can still observe parts of the underground heating system for the steam rooms. One can also find the mostly ground-level remains of an early (6th Century) Byzantine Basilica, together with the remains of walls and rooms of classical-era palaces and houses. But, perhaps the best thing about Kourion is having the opportunity to photograph the classical view of a Greek column with the Mediterranean as a backdrop, or sit at the edge of the bluff or in one of the theatre's stairs and imagine what it would have been to live there at its heyday.
Closer in to Limassol are the remains of Kolossi Castle, perhaps the best preserved Crusader construction on the island. Kolossi Castle was originally built by the Lusignans in the 13th century, although this structure dates mostly from 1454. One can climb to the third floor, which is a terrace from which one can see vineyards extending in many directions. The Crusaders began production on a sweet wine called Commandaria, which is still produced locally and which one can purchase (the Cyprus Wine Museum is located
in the area as well).
On one of the outside walls one can still see the Lusignan coat of arms, very well preserved. On the coat of arms one can notice the Christian cross of the crusaders, the fleur-de-lis (the Lusignans were a Frankish, or French, order of knights), and the jumping lions, which identified the family. The interior is rather stark, devoid of any furniture, although there are a couple of well-preserved frescoes on one of the walls. Still, it is enough to get the feel of the combination of military might and austerity (or rather, "baseness") that the knights brought with them.
PETRA TON ROMIOU
Last but not least, midway towards the city of Pafos, is Petra Ton Romiou, or Aphrodite’s Rock, the site where, according to Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the foam of the sea, on a sea shell. The setting is undoubtedly spectacular, with a wide pebble beach backed by cliffs and bisected by huge rocks which jut out into the sea. The crashing of the sea against the cliffs on a rough day undoubtedly produces quite a bit of foam, so perhaps that is the connection, using some imagination...
Legend has it that if you complete one lap swimming around the middle rock you will ensure procreation. Or your return to Cyprus, I forget which. In any case, don’t do it if the sea looks rough, or else you will ensure not leaving Cyprus instead. Or at least not procreating, depending on how badly things turn out…
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