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Bath Complex in Kourion, Cyprus

Bath Complex in Kourion, Cyprus



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Bath Complex in Kourion, Cyprus - History

The most important monuments at the site are:


Kourion:The Agora

The Agora : The Roman Agora in its present state is a structure of the early 3rd century A.D. with additions dating to the Early Christian period. It was built on the remains of an earlier public building, which was in use from the end of the 4th century to the end of the Hellenistic period. The Agora is surrounded on both sides by porticos with marble columns. An impressive public bath and a Nymphaeum, which supplied the city with water, occupy the northwest side of the Agora.


The House of Achilles : Only part of the building, which is situated at the northwestern end of Kourion near the old Lemesos-Pafos road, is preserved today. It is a Roman villa of the first half of the 4th century A.D. with a central peristyle court. Several rooms are decorated with mosaic floors. The most interesting floor depicts the popular story of the revealing of Achilles' true identity by Odysseus in the court of the king Lycomedes at Skyros. The excavators suggest that this was a civic reception centre for distinguished visitors.



Kourion: Mosaic from the House of the Gladiators


The House of the Gladiators : This Roman house, which dates to the second half of the 3rd century A.D., is situated a few meters to the east of the House of Achilles. It has a central courtyard with corridors on all four sides and rooms opening onto them. Among the mosaics, which decorate the east and south wings of the courtyard, the most important are those in the east wing depicting a Gladiator combat scene which is rare in Cyprus.


The Theatre : It was originally built in the 2nd century B.C. but what is preserved today dates to the Roman period with 2nd and 3rd century A.D. additions and restorations. In the curved auditorium the spectators’ seating area accommodates around 3500 people. The stage only preserves its foundations but it originally rose to the full height of the auditorium. Today the theatre is used for cultural events.


Kourion: Theatre



The Baths and the Complex of Eustolios : The complex of Eustolios is situated in an imposing position at the southeast end of Kourion. The building was the residence of a rich inhabitant of the town and dates to the end of the 4th century-early 5th century A.D.. It consists of many rooms surrounding two courtyards and a bath establishment. The group of mosaic pavements, which cover the majority of the building, are of particular interest. Through the inscriptions we know the name of the owner, a certain Eustolios as well as the fact that he was a Christian.



Kourion: Mosaic from the complex of Eustolios


The Early Christian Basilica : South of the Agora are the remains of the large complex of buildings belonging to the three-aisled basilica, the cathedral of Kourion. Originally built in the beginning of the 5th century A.D., it underwent architectural alterations and received new mosaic and opus sectile pavements in the 6th century. In the west, the basilica communicated with a narthex and a succession of buildings including the diakonikon , where the faithful deposited their offerings, and the house of the bishop of Kourion. To the north, the basilica extended to the atrium and the baptistery, which had the form of a small three-aisled basilica with a narthex. After the destruction of the basilica in the 7th century many pieces belonging to its mural marble sculpture were transferred and incorporated in the pavement of the newly-erected church of the neighbouring village of Episkopi.


The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates

The sanctuary is located about 2,5 kilometres west of the ancient town of Kourion along the road which leads to Pafos. It was one of the main religious centres of ancient Cyprus, where Apollo was worshipped as god of the woodlands. It seems that the worship of Apollo on this site began as early as the 8th century B.C. and continued until the 4th century A.D. The site has undergone many extensions and alterations in different periods. The majority of the monuments as they can be seen today belong to the site's 1st century AD restorations. A wall from which one could enter the site via the Kourion Gate and the Pafos Gate surrounds the sanctuary. Originally the site consisted of: a temple, traces of which survive in the foundations of the present temple a circular monument, which was probably destined for processions or dances around a grove of sacred trees and a formalized Archaic Altar and Precinct. During the Roman period the site was extended with the addition of the South and North Buildings, which may have been used for the display of votives or the accommodation of visitors. Terracotta figurines and pottery that were accumulated in the Temple from the 5th century B.C. to the Roman period were buried in the Votive Pit. A long street running from south to north leads to the Temple of Apollo Hylates, which was built in the Late Classical or Early Hellenistic period on the ruins of the Archaic temple. In the 1st century A.D. the temple was rebuilt with a different architectural style. A small building south of the Precinct may have been a priest’s house. Along the external east side of the walls are the Palaestra where athletes once exercised and played games, and the Baths.


The Stadium : The ruins of the ancient stadium are preserved to the east of the sanctuary of Apollo. The stadium has a U-shaped plan and has seven rows of seats which would have accommodated around 6000 spectators. It was built in the 2nd century A.D. and was used until the end of the 5th century.


Kourion: the Stadium

The Small Basilica : The three-aisled small basilica of Kourion, which dates to the 5th century A.D., is situated next to the stadium. The basilica had a narthex and an atrium with four porticos in the west. In the middle of the atrium there was a reservoir that was destroyed and replaced by a medieval limestone kiln. Adjoining the basilica to the north was a corridor and a chapel.

Summer hours (16/4 - 15/9)
Monday - Sunday: 8.15 - 19.30
(last ticket issued at 19.00)

Almost all the site is wheelchair accessible: small bridges and passageways
(The site´s western part can be accessed via a special entrance that can be opened by the site´s guards)

Special Parking Space: available (marked)
Special rest rooms: available (marked)


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What are the best ancient Roman Baths to visit?

1. Herculaneum

Only recently starting to creep out of Pompeii’s shadow, the fascinating ruins of Herculaneum contain two of the best preserved Roman baths in the world – the Forum baths and the Suburban baths. These are probably the best Roman baths found anywhere. Herculaneum was a port town established by the ancient Romans in what is now modern Ercolano, Italy. At its peak, it would have had around 4,000 citizens and served as a holiday town for wealthy Campanians and Romans. Like nearby Pompeii, Herculaneum was engulfed by the lava and mud which spewed from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Even the streets of Herculaneum are fascinating, displaying the high degree of planning employed by the Romans.

2. Dougga

The Lucinian Baths at Dougga, also called the Baths of Caracalla, are a genuinely impressive example of surviving Roman baths. Quite a site to see, the towering walls and other structures have survived pretty much intact. Dougga itself boasts a series of impressive ruins amidst its seventy hectares, including a 3,500-seater theatre, an amphitheatre, temples such as those of Juno Caelestis and Saturn, public baths, a forum, a trifolium villa, two triumphal arches and the remains of a market.

3. Baths of Caracalla

Among the most impressive Roman baths found anywhere in the world, the huge Baths of Caracalla in Rome are simply astounding – check out the streetview option in our entry for this site and take a virtual walkthrough! It was the Emperor Septimius Severus who began building these massive baths, but they are named after his son, the emperor Caracalla, who completed the works in 216 AD. With the original walls still towering above and impressive black and white mosaics underfoot this amazing ancient ruin is one of the best preserved of its kind anywhere in the world. However, the fun doesn’t stop there. For it is the recently opened underground sections which will really set your heart racing. An innocuous staircase will take you deep below ground to the tremendously well preserved tunnels and corridors which represent the unseen heart of this complex – where slaves and other workers would have scurried about to keep the waters heated and the customers happy.

4. Roman Baths - Bath

The world famous Roman Baths complex in Bath contains an incredible set of thermal spas and an impressive ancient Roman bathing house. Ranked among the best known Roman baths in the world, this complex led to the naming of the very city in which it is now found. Boasting a combination of well-preserved remains mixed with some 19th century additions, it’s one of the best examples of Roman baths to have survived. It is unsurprising that the Romans chose to build such magnificent baths in this location. The area benefits from hot springs from the Mendip Hills, which arrive at the Roman Baths at a temperature of 46 degrees Celsius and rise due to enormous pressure. In fact, prior to the Romans discovering these springs, the Celts dedicated this phenomenon to the Godess Sulis. The Romans equated Sulis with their own deity, Minerva, and kept the original name, calling the town Aqua Sulis – the waters of Sulis. Today, the Roman Baths offer an incredibly comprehensive insight into the lives of the Romans in the town and around Britain. The site looks quite small from the outside, but it is actually vast and a visit can last several hours.

5. The Antonine Baths

The Antonine Baths ranked among the biggest Roman baths to have ever been constructed and were the largest such complex in North Africa. Much remains to be explored, though only the lower levels have survived. Originally built from 145 to 165 AD, mostly during the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, the Antonine Baths were among the largest baths to be built in the Roman world and were the largest such complex in North Africa. Although it would have once existed of many stories, the remains that can be seen today are mostly from the lower level. Despite lacking its original grandeur, the fascinating ruins are certainly worth exploring and provide a picturesque location, positioned as they are against the backdrop of the ocean.

6. Baths of Diocletian

The largest Roman baths ever built, the Baths of Diocletian in Rome could hold up to 3,000 people and boasted vast frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium chambers as well as a host of other facilities. Given the sheer size of the Baths of Diocletian, it is no surprise that the structure did not survive intact over the centuries. Various elements survive – some standing as grand ruins while others have been incorporated into other buildings. It can therefore be difficult at times to distinguish between the original building, restored areas and more modern constructions built within the complex. Probably the best place to view the actual structure, and get an idea as to the original scale of the Baths of Diocletian, is the well preserved Aula Ottagona. Also part of the Rome National Museum, it contains many artefacts found during the excavation.

7. Imperial Baths of Trier

One of the more unexpected entries in our Roman baths list is the Imperial Baths of Trier. Believed to be the biggest Roman bath complex outside Rome, many of the original walls still stand and there’s even the option to explore the ancient underground tunnels. Trier was a Roman city initially established in around 15 BC and called Augusta Treverorum. By the late third century AD, when Diocletian divided the Empire and created the Tetrachy, Trier was such a flourishing and important city that it was known as the “Second Rome”.

8. Musee de Cluny

What is now a museum was once an ancient baths complex and represents some of the best remains of Roman Paris. Much of the outer structure of these Roman baths survive, known as Thermes de Cluny, and the museum itself provides a guide to the layout of the baths. Outside the museum, one can see the original walls of the cold room or “caldarium” and warm water room (tepidarium), although, at the time of writing, visitors cannot walk around this part of the site. Officially known as the National Museum of the Middle Ages – the museum has an impressive collection, including Roman statues, gothic sculptures, a treasury filled with the works of medieval goldsmiths and an exhibit of funereal objects.

9. Kourion

Kourion is an impressive archaeological site near Limassol in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins. The baths at Kourion are some of the best remains found at the site and contain a number of interesting mosaics as well as the remains of the hypocaust heating system. Several additional ancient buildings remain, including part of the fourth century AD House of Achilles – thought to have been a reception centre – with its mosaic floors and the third century AD House of the Gladiators, so named because some of its mosaics depict gladiatorial battles.

10. Conimbriga

One of Portugal’s best Roman sites, the remains at the public baths include their hypocaust heating systems, decorative mosaics and the frigidarium (cold room), caldarium (hot room), the tepidarium (warm room) as well as the remains of the praefurnium (heating or furnace room). The site contains three bath areas, Great Southern Baths, Baths of the Wall, Baths of the Aqueduct. Other things to see at Conimbriga include the remains of houses and public buildings, some quite impressive walls and a small museum of finds.


The archaeological remains of Kourion - which was one of the island’s most important city-kingdoms in antiquity - are of the most impressive on the island, and excavations have unearthed many significant finds, which can be viewed at the site.

The city-kingdom was built on the hills of the area, and overlooked and controlled the fertile valley of the river Kouris. According to archaeological finds, evidence suggests that Kourion was associated with the Greek legend of Argos of Peloponnese, and that its inhabitants believed they were descendents of Argean immigrants. The once-flourishing kingdom was eventually destroyed in a severe earthquake in 365 AD.

The magnificent Greco-Roman theatre - the site’s centrepiece - was built in the 2nd century BC and extended in the 2nd century AD. The theatre has been restored, and is now used for open-air musical and theatrical performances - mainly during the summer months - making it one of the most popular settings for high-calibre cultural events.

East of the theatre are the remains of a prominent building, the ‘House of Eustolios’, which was originally a private villa that was turned into a public recreation centre during the Early Christian period.

Whilst the villa was modest in size, it was well equipped and richly adorned. Its remains consist of four panels of beautiful, 5th century mosaic floors in the central room, and a bathing complex that is located on a higher level, accessed by steps, north of the building. A roof structure allows visitors to enjoy the site all year round, and explore its remnants.

The baths themselves originally opened off the central room to the north and east, where there were cold baths (frigidarium). Before each is a shallow foot-bath while on the west, the remains of the hypocausts - which heated the medium room (tepidarium), and the hot room (caldarium) - can be seen. In the latter, the built-in basins for hot baths have survived, as have the firing chambers, where hot air was carried through the hypocausts, travelling up through specially-cut flues, through the walls, and beneath the terracotta tiles of the floor.

Along with the House of Eustolios, there are further impressive mosaic floors in the ‘House of Achilles’ and the ‘House of the Gladiators’, with the villas named after the scenes depicted on the mosaics.

The remains of the Roman Agora are also visible at the site. The structure dates back to the early 3rd century, with additions made later on, during the Early Christian period. The Roman Agora is built on the remains of an earlier public building, which was in use from the end of the 4th century to the end of Hellenistic period.

The Agora of the city is surrounded by porticos with marble columns on both sides, whilst on its northwest side, is an impressive public bath and a small temple, the Nymphaeum, dedicated to the water nymphs.

An early Christian basilica at the site dates back to the 5th century, with separate baptistery on the external northern side.

The Stadium of Kourion lies 1km to the west, on the right side of the road towards Pafos.


Kourion

Kourion, also known as Curium, is an impressive archaeological site near Limassol in Cyprus containing mostly Ancient Roman and Byzantine ruins.

In fact, it is believed that the site of Kourion was first inhabited during Neolithic times, with the earliest evidence dating back to 4500-3900 BC, but that the town itself was founded in the thirteenth century BC by the Argives.

Over the centuries, Kourion has played important roles in many regional conflicts. During the Cypriot uprising against Persia (fifth century BC), its king – Stasanor – betrayed his country, lending his support and troops to the Persians. However, Kourion later supported Alexander the Great’s fight against the Persians (fourth century BC).

Kourion continued to be inhabited throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods, with the establishment of buildings, monuments and other structures from these times still visible today. Perhaps the most memorable site to be seen today at Kourion is its ancient theatre. Still intact and able to seat up to 3,500 spectators, the theatre at Kourion dates back to the second or third century AD, although there would have been a theatre here from the second century BC.

However, the theatre is definitely not the only thing to see at Kourion. The site includes the remains of a third century AD Roman market which includes some public baths and a Nymphaeum.

Several additional ancient buildings remain, including part of the fourth century AD House of Achilles – thought to have been a reception centre – with its mosaic floors and the third century AD House of the Gladiators, so named because some of its mosaics depict gladiatorial battles. The complex of Eustolios is another fascinating site, this having been an affluent fourth to fifth century private residence in Kourion and including a bathing complex.

Kourion also possesses evidence of early Christianity, both at the complex of Eustolios and by way of its early Christian basilica, a fifth century AD church at the site. Other sites of Kourion include the remains of a stadium and the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. However, it is worth noting that these latter two sites are slightly separate from the rest of the archaeological park.


Cyprus Photos: Curium (Kourion)


The restored Greco-Roman amphitheatre, at the site of the ancient city of Kourion, commonly known as Curium, its Latin name.


The amphitheatre is used today for open air musical and theatrical performances.


Looking across the 2000-seat amphitheatre to the Akrotiri peninsula.


The Kourion Episcopal Basilica, which dates from the early 5th century, built on earlier Roman ruins.


This hexagonal swimming basin, measuring 9.25m in diameter and 1.5m in depth formed the cold bath or frigidarium of the north-eastern complex of the Kourion public baths (AD 200-365)


History of Kourion

Kourion (also Curium), one of the ancient city-kingdoms of Cyprus, lies west of the Kouris River, on the island’s fertile south coast. The area was continuously occupied from the Neolithic period until the Late Roman period and later, although it is largely a Hellenistic and especially Roman city that is visible today on the acropolis on the Kourion bluff that overlooks the sea. The University of Pennsylvania expedition, which began excavation at Kourion in 1934, brought to light evidence of all these phases of activity in the Kourion area: Neolithic at Sotira Teppes, Bronze and Iron Ages at Bamboula and Kaloriziki, Archaic period at the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the main city site on the acropolis, in the Sanctuary of Apollo and at the cemetery of Ayios Ermoyenis, and the Late Roman and Early Christian eras at the basilica and the Eustolios complex with their well preserved mosaics.

The Penn expedition excavated at Kourion from 1934 to 1954, with an interruption during World War II, under the direction of Bert Hodge Hill, John Franklin Daniel, and George McFadden. Kourion was well known before, as Luigi Palma di Cesnola and H. B. Walters (on behalf of the British Museum), among others, were there in the 19th century. And other excavations, such as those of the University of Arizona Missouri and Walters Art Gallery under David Soren and Diana Buitron-Oliver in the Sanctuary of Apollo and the Cyprus Department of Antiquities under Demos Christou in the area of Hellenistic agora/Roman forum, have continued in the years after 1954. The Penn Museum Archives also houses the records of Diana Buitron-Oliver’s excavations at Kourion, 1978-82. Both Penn’s work and more recent studies of the site were highlighted in a symposium celebrating the 75th anniversary of the beginning of Penn’s excavations: “The Ancient Kourion Area: Penn Museum’s Legacy and Recent Research in Cyprus,” held at the Museum in March 2009. The symposium volume, edited by Ellen Herscher and published by the Penn Museum, is forthcoming.

This website highlights the Kourion collection in the Penn Museum—some two thousand objects—that came to Philadelphia through a division of finds with the Cyprus Department of Antiquities. The Museum also houses the excavation documentation, consisting of notebooks, correspondence, photographs, plans and drawings, which is preserved in the Museum Archives. For a more comprehensive study of the archaeology of Cyprus, see the online research catalogue Ancient Cyprus in the British Museum edited by Thomas Kiely, on the website of the British Museum. (Or see the section devoted to Kourion.)

Note: The designation of the Kourion sites here largely follows the usage in the excavation documentation. Cypriot archaeologists now identify sites with the name of the nearest village or town and a more specific place-name, so Episkopi Bamboula, for example.


Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates - Kourion

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates is an ancient monument dedicated to the God of Apollo who was thought to be the protector of Kourion.

The sanctuary is located about 2.5 kilometres west of the ancient rural city of Kourion, at Episkopi, in Limassol. During the Ancient times, the Sanctuary was one of the most important religious centres in Cyprus, were Apollo was worshipped as Hylates, god of the woodlands.

The partly restored temple which is located in the area was built in two construction phases: during the Classic period or the Prime Hellenistic period and during the Roman period. It is a small prostele , four post temple with unfluted columns of a simplified Corinthian architecture placed on a modular platform.

Archaeological investigation on the site suggests that the earlier evidence of the worship of Apollo dates back to the 8th century B.C. and continued until the late Antiquity, in the 4th century A. D. The area was one of the most important centres on the island and was abandoned during the 4th century A.D.

Throughout the years, the site where the sanctuary is located, has undergone many alterations and modifications. The most of the current monuments at the site, belong to the 1st century A.D. restorations. In earlier phases, before the creation of the sanctuary, the site consisted of an earlier archaic temple, a circular monument and a formalized Archaic Altar and Precinct.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates was built in the late Classical or Early Hellenistic period, over the ruins of the earlier archaic temple and it was a single construction and rectangular in shape. During the Roman period, in the 1st Century B.C. the sanctuary was rebuild, now with a different architectural style.

The site was extended by building the South and North buildings which as it has been argued, used for the display of votives or the accommodation of visitors. The new complex of the sanctuary included also a palaestra, a stoa, the treasury, the baths, the archaic temenos, the circular monument, the central courtyard and the temple of Apollo. The Sanctuary was constructed on a higher level and had a podium, a characteristic of the roman architecture.

The temple was destroyed by the severe earthquake of 364-5 A.D.

Location: Episkopi, Kourion, Lemesos

Additional Information
- Operating period: All year round
Monday - Sunday: 08:30 - 17:00 (16th September - 15th April)
Monday - Sunday: 08:30 - 19:30 (16th April - 15th September)
- Entrance: € 2.50
- Tel: +357 25 991 049


The archaeological remains of Kourion - which was one of the island’s most important city-kingdoms in antiquity - are of the most impressive on the island, and excavations have unearthed many significant finds, which can be viewed at the site.

The city-kingdom was built on the hills of the area, and overlooked and controlled the fertile valley of the river Kouris. According to archaeological finds, evidence suggests that Kourion was associated with the Greek legend of Argos of Peloponnese, and that its inhabitants believed they were descendents of Argean immigrants. The once-flourishing kingdom was eventually destroyed in a severe earthquake in 365 AD.

The magnificent Greco-Roman theatre - the site’s centrepiece - was built in the 2nd century BC and extended in the 2nd century AD. The theatre has been restored, and is now used for open-air musical and theatrical performances - mainly during the summer months - making it one of the most popular settings for high-calibre cultural events.

East of the theatre are the remains of a prominent building, the ‘House of Eustolios’, which was originally a private villa that was turned into a public recreation centre during the Early Christian period.

Whilst the villa was modest in size, it was well equipped and richly adorned. Its remains consist of four panels of beautiful, 5th century mosaic floors in the central room, and a bathing complex that is located on a higher level, accessed by steps, north of the building. A roof structure allows visitors to enjoy the site all year round, and explore its remnants.

The baths themselves originally opened off the central room to the north and east, where there were cold baths (frigidarium). Before each is a shallow foot-bath while on the west, the remains of the hypocausts - which heated the medium room (tepidarium), and the hot room (caldarium) - can be seen. In the latter, the built-in basins for hot baths have survived, as have the firing chambers, where hot air was carried through the hypocausts, travelling up through specially-cut flues, through the walls, and beneath the terracotta tiles of the floor.

Along with the House of Eustolios, there are further impressive mosaic floors in the ‘House of Achilles’ and the ‘House of the Gladiators’, with the villas named after the scenes depicted on the mosaics.

The remains of the Roman Agora are also visible at the site. The structure dates back to the early 3rd century, with additions made later on, during the Early Christian period. The Roman Agora is built on the remains of an earlier public building, which was in use from the end of the 4th century to the end of Hellenistic period.

The Agora of the city is surrounded by porticos with marble columns on both sides, whilst on its northwest side, is an impressive public bath and a small temple, the Nymphaeum, dedicated to the water nymphs.

An early Christian basilica at the site dates back to the 5th century, with separate baptistery on the external northern side.

The Stadium of Kourion lies 1km to the west, on the right side of the road towards Pafos.


How to visit Kourion Amphitheatre

For just a few euros, you too can step back in time and visit this cultural destination. Wandering through the theatre truly feels akin to stepping back in time and is well worth the effort during any visit to Cyprus. Elsewhere in the complex, there are mosaic floors to admire as well as other historical buildings. Another highlight close to the amphitheatre is the House of Eustolios, a former villa turned public recreation space.

All across the ancient site, information boards are on hand to help guide you through your visit. The majority of the theatre is wheelchair accessible and you’ll need to take bottled water when visiting (especially in the summer months when the weather can get close to unbearably hot).

It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as some of the steps can be uneven in place. You’ll probably also want to bring a hat and pack plenty of sun cream! During the summer months, there’s even the possibility of watching a live theatre performance.

While on our visit, our guide, Mary, described a performance the moon sits high above the water and is reflected on the waves crashing below. Performances include classical music concerts and Shakespearean plays. All in all, it sounds like a pretty magical experience!


Watch the video: Kourion, Cyprus 2018 (August 2022).