Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Discover the Ancient City of Amathus in Limassol Cyprus

Ancient Amathus

This ancient city kingdom is situated 5 miles east of Limassol not far from St Raphael Resort. There are many legends as to who established the city. One was that it was founded by Amathus son of the King of Paphos, Aerias. Another one stated that it was Amathusa, the daughter and another Paphian King Kinyrar. It dates to before 1,000 BC and by 800 BC it was a strong and important trading port and focal point of Phoenician influence. In 700 BC it become part of the Hittite kingdom and between 295-27 BC it was one of the 4 Egyptian Ptolemaic capitals in Cyprus. The Akropolic, with its commanding position, has it own fortifications within the reinforced city

Amathus has a mixed population and culture as Greeks, Phoenicinas, Jews and Egyptians all lived together by the commercial harbour. Greek was the main ruling and cultural element and the Phoenicians were traders. However, their relationship with the Greeks was clouded when, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, they sided with the the Persian rulers against local Greek rebellions which were eventually suppressed. In 332 BC Kind Androcles supplied ships and men to Alexander the Great in his drive against the Persians. During the Roman period it reminded the capital of one of 4 districts and retained some influence and stability.
Its decline started in the early part of the Byzantine period due to earthquakes and the numerous and vicious raids by Arabs who destroyed it. The inhabitants were either killed or taken as slaves and its treasures were looted.

Book Hotels in Limassol and visit the ancient city of Amathus.

The Site of Ancient Amathus is made up of a number of key areas:

1. Acropolis & Basilica
2. The Walls
3. Remains of Walls
4. 5th Century Basilica
5. Part of Lower City
6. The Agora
7. The inner harbour site of ancient Amathus
8. Submerged harbour
9. Ayios Tychonas Church
10. Royal Tombs
11. Shrine of Ayia Varvara
12. Cistern
13. Medieval Monastery
14. Site of Basilica
15. Rock hewn tombs

It was here that Richard the Lionheart actually landed in 1191. Like others before him, he ransacked the city, its final blow. The Franks used it as a quarry transporting local stone to Larnaca by sea. Most of its ancient glory has been destroyed forever, either by the notorious Cesnola or later by the transportation of stones from the walls to as far away as Egypt to construct the Suez Canal. The majority of the finds were sold on the open market and are now in private collections, European and American museums. The most important collection being at the New York Metropolitan Museum.

Book Hotels in Limassol and visit the ancient city of Amathus.

To be Seen at Amathus

The Early Christian Basilica - which commands panoramic views from the submit and dates from the 6th/7th century. It was built on the site of an ancient Temple and sanctuary of Aphrodite. Archaeologists have unearthed many rooms and chambers some with patterned mosaic floors.

The Acropolis - there are the remains of some walls and other buildings.

The Basilica - from the 5th century is by the roadside.

The Agora - has been recently excavated revealing several structures and collonades which have been partially restored.

The Shrine of Ayia Varvara - a cave cut in the rock dedicated to pregnant women - not much remains to be seen.

Ayios Tychonas Church - a recent excavation on the eastern side of the area, these include the ruins of the medieval Cathedral plus other buildings.

Medieval Monastery - remains here of an old funerary chapel with mosaic floors and a cistern hewn from the rock.

The Harbour - which has been submerged under water, Aerial photographs and other studies carried out with the latest technology have revealed the extent of the ancient harbour which was huge. On a calm day the foundations of the wall can be seen beneath the surface of the sea.

The department of antiquities has carried out various excavations in recent years and the funds are exhibited in the Limassol District Museum and the Nicosia Museum. This part of the city is open to the visitors during the day.

Opening Hours: Summer daily 09-00-19:30 Winter daily 09:00 - 17:00 There is a small entrance fee.

Other Areas near Amathus:

Ayios Tykhonas is just north of Amathus and was part of the outskirts of the ancient kingdom and excavations have brought to light house foundations and other remains including Doric items such as columns etc. The vaulted church of Ayios Tychonas, with its thick walls, contains some lovely old icons.

Armenohori to the north this area was once occupied by Armenians - hence the name. Signs of Neolithic occupation have also been discovered and in Medieval times it belonged to the Grand Commanderie.

Sfalangiotissa Monastery is further to the west and close to Ayios Athanasios village. It is set in peaceful surroundings and has been restored from the neglect of the past. There are now a few monks who look after the land. It is best known for the miraculous icon of Panayia Sfalangiotissa which is held in great respect by the villagers.

Book Hotels in Limassol and visit the ancient city of Amathus.

 St Raphael Resort, Amathus Avenue | P.O. Box 51064, 3594, Limassol, CYPRUS | Tel: +357 (25) 834 333 | Fax: +357 (25) 635 491 |

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