Tombs of the Kings

Paphos, Cyprus

The Tombs of the Kings is an impressive necropolis that is located just outside the walls, to the north and east of Paphos town. It was built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.) to satisfy the needs of the newly founded Nea Paphos. Its name is not connected with the burial of kings, as the royal institution was abolished in 312 B.C., but rather with the impressive character of its burial monuments. The site was the place where the higher administrative officers and distinguished Ptolemaic personalities as well as the members of their families were buried.

The necropolis was continuously used as a burial area during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (200 BC - 300 AD). There is sufficient evidence to support the fact that the first Christians also used the site for their burials, while at the same time the site constituted an endless quarry. Squatters established themselves in some of the tombs during the Medieval period and made alterations to the original architecture.

The existence of the site was already known from the end of the 19th century by Cesnola, who severely looted the tombs. In 1915-16 the then curator of the Cyprus Museum, Markides excavated some shaft tombs, while the honorary curator of Paphos Museum Loizos Philippou started clearance work in a few others tombs in 1937. But it was in 1977 that systematic excavations were undertaken by the Department of Antiquities, which brought to light eight large tomb complexes.

Most of the tombs are characterised by an underground, open aired, peristyled rectangular atrium completely carved into the natural rock. Columns or pillars of the Doric style supported the porticoes, which surrounded the atrium. The burial chambers and the loculi for single burials were dug into the portico walls. It seems that the walls were originally covered with frescoes although today only small fragments are preserved. The tombs' architectural characteristics directly relate them to Hellenistic prototypes from Alexandria, Delos, Pergamon and Priene.

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Details

Founded: 300 BC
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Cyprus

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Victoria Carr (9 months ago)
Absolutely fantastic, visited here with 2 Girls aged 10 & 11 and we all thought it was amazing. So interesting. Super fun to explore, walking down flights of stairs to get into the tombs lined with columns. What's not to like, my girls loved it and we would highly recommend.
Ярослава Панко (10 months ago)
It's quite interesting for history lovers. One can feel as a tomb raider. You will also take amazing pics. However, I recommend coming in the morning when it's still not scorching hot and few tourists around.
Tatiana Samburova (11 months ago)
A beautiful place. You won't see any ancient pieces but the graves cut in the stone. While observing the cemetery you'll be impressed for how long Kings of the past were buried in that piece of land. That's the best way to travel to those times.
Pedro Pablo Irastorza Espolosin (11 months ago)
Even though it is a very incredible place to visit, I felt that the authorities and the people working there could have done much more for the improvement of the facilities. For example, a map of the place could have been easily made, explaining the whereabouts of every tomb and their location. Instead, you find yourself walking in the 40°C heat without knowing where to go exactly or even which period every tomb is from. In conclusion, an interesting place to visit that could be much improved to make it as enjoyable as it could be.
Mateusz Rejek (12 months ago)
Interesting place to visit. Full of ancient structures which span between shelves cut into a rock to magnificent large chambers with solid rock columns decorated with reliefs. Entry fee is low (2.5€), so not much of a loss in case you don't like it, so just give it a try. I've been visiting the site in a rather toasty weather (32°C) and it was tough, so plan on picking a cloudy day. On more note here, people visiting with kids were having some hard time there, so unless you can pull some Indiana Jones story, don't expect kids to love this point of your itinerary.
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