Cyprus's archaeological big three

Thursday, 25 April 2015 12:58 PM

With Cyprus's astounding Mediterranean climate - in which there are some 11.5 hours of sunshine a day during the summer months - it is perhaps unsurprising to note it's a popular destination for sun-loving tourists. In addition to receiving pleasant year-round weather, however, the island has a wealth of stunning architecture you really ought to explore.

The country's fascinating archaeological heritage can, in part, be traced to its history of being ruled by numerous civilisations over the years. These have included the Romans, Byzantines and Turks, among others, all of whom have left a distinct influence on the sights you will find here. Although you won't be short of fantastic places to see once you have taken a cheap flight from the UK to Cyprus, the following are the landmarks that we think are particularly worth taking in.

Kourion

As it is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the entire island, Kourion is somewhere certain to appeal to history lovers.

Dating back to the 2nd century BC, this ancient city kingdom is a short distance to the west of the bustling coastal city of Limassol and contains a wealth of historic landmarks. These include a Christian basilica - which was constructed in the 5th century and is believed to have once served as the city's cathedral - and the beautiful Nymphaeum, a Roman-era statue built in devotion to water nymphs.

You should also check out the stunning remains of the House of Eustolios. This structure was once a private residence, though it was later converted into a leisure centre during the early Christian times. Come here and you'll get to explore a complex of public baths and rooms that feature intricate mosaic floors.

Kourion is open all year round, but, as admission hours change throughout the year, you ought to check in advance what times it is accessible to the public before you set out to the site.

Tombs of the Kings

Archaeology lovers also ought to incorporate a trip to the Tombs of the Kings into a luxury holiday in Cyprus. Despite its name, this stunning complex of underground tombs is not the resting place of kings, but rather of local public officials. Indeed, it is the sheer opulence of the intricately-carved rock tombs that has given the UNESCO World Heritage Site landmark its name.

Some of these graves date as far back as the 4th century BC, with many of these tombs featuring intricate decorative features such as Doric pillars. Like Kourion, the Tombs of the Kings is open all year but visiting hours change on a regular basis.

Kykkos Monastery

Situated on a mountain peak some 1,318 m above sea level, this beautiful monastery was built in the late 11th century while Emperor Alexios I Komneno ruled the island. Sadly, however, there is nothing of the original structure that remains as the building has been ransacked and burned on numerous occasions over the years.

That said, there are still plenty of amazing things to take in, including a stunning religious icon that is covered in silver gait and situated in a shrine made from tortoiseshell and mother of pearl.

In addition to having the chance to discover the monastery's stunning architecture, you should try some of the local drinks that are made onsite, including zivania, while a number of religious fairs are held here during the summer and autumn.

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Aside from being a chic destination offering the chance to have plenty of fun in the sun, Cyprus also boasts a wealth of opportunities to learn more about ancient history. If you have planned holidays to Paphos, there are so many unmissable sights to choose from it may be hard to pick one.

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