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.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

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

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Warisala Chatuchinda (6 months ago)
Nice large area of ruins that you can walk around by yourself. Very serene and the information is fascinating. Definitely recommend buying a guide book though the information on the board located around the area was quite minimal.
Gwyneth Nasr (6 months ago)
The Tombs of the Kings is spread over quite a large area , so be prepared for a good walk . It was incredibly atmospheric and quite amazing to see , you can see the beautiful wall paintings, storage jars of wine , intricate passages between the Tombs which are quite large with small entries. There is a palpable atmosphere of reverence to the place, I was impressed and would definitely visit again.
Stary Kanał Wiktora Grzybowskiego (7 months ago)
This historical site is great! The stairs to the tomb sites are very interesting, but you do need to walk carefully on them because there are a lot of rocks on them. The tomb sites look interesting, and they actually are! I deeply recommend that you visit, but preferably during the winter when there are not a lot of people around.
Terence Khan (7 months ago)
Amazing medieval historical site. Its called Tomb of the Kings although there were no kings buried here, it was for Aristocrats. Amazing to see how the burial sites were created within the rock foundations. Admission is €4.50 and worth a visit.
Tristan Pollock (7 months ago)
An interesting collection of tombs carved into the ground and out of caves. I thought it looked small in the photos before coming, but it was a huge area with a lot of things to explore. There’s even a shipwreck off the coast. Probably the coolest ruins in Cyprus.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Baths of Caracalla

The Baths of Caracalla were the second largest Roman public baths, or thermae, in Rome. It was built between AD 212 and 217, during the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla. They would have had to install over 2,000t of material every day for six years in order to complete it in this time. 

The baths remained in use until the 6th century when the complex was taken by the Ostrogoths during the Gothic War, at which time the hydraulic installations were destroyed. The bath was free and open to the public. The earthquake of 847 destroyed much of the building, along with many other Roman structures.

The building was heated by a hypocaust, a system of burning coal and wood underneath the ground to heat water provided by a dedicated aqueduct. It was in use up to the 19th century. The Aqua Antoniniana aqueduct, a branch of the earlier Aqua Marcia, by Caracalla was specifically built to serve the baths. It was most likely reconstructed by Garbrecht and Manderscheid to its current place.

In the 19th and early 20th century, the design of the baths was used as the inspiration for several modern structures, including St George's Hall in Liverpool and the original Pennsylvania Station in New York City. At the 1960 Summer Olympics, the venue hosted the gymnastics events.