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

Debra Kiez (2 years ago)
I hadn't had high expectations of this site but was blown away by the power of it - maybe all those rich souls floating in the ether. The archeology is beautiful but the landscape is boundless with stone cairns and windswept beach grasses, like a Star Wars movie set. Definitely a must see, and better yet, must feel!
Isabella-Alexandra Vlad (2 years ago)
Definitely worth the 2.5 € fee! Maybe it's best to plan your tour in the morning because it can get very hot and the site it's quite large and tombs are placed far away from each other. You can scan some qr codes to get information about the objectives, they can be improved from my point of view but it's a nice way of sharing information about the place. You can rest under the pergolas and there is also a toilet at entrance.
Colin Owen (2 years ago)
Great site to explore the local history, reasonably priced it has many individual burial chambers some more impressive than others but all interesting. The area is open and can get very warm in the middle of the day and there is a fair bit of walking involved to get round it all. We'll worth the effort if you enjoy historic sites.
Benjamin Lehmann (2 years ago)
Very interesting place. 2,50€ submission fee, last submission at 19:00. I recommend using the qr-codes because you learn way more and know where to look at the ruins. You then understand a lot and get a great experience. Be prepared that you have to walk a lot and that it may get very hot. Shadowy places are all over the site but you should take water with you.
Timothy Cakebread (2 years ago)
A great morning out best done whilst not in the midday sun as its exceptionally hot, with not too much shade. There are a few strategically placed pagodas to shade you for a spot of much but not much else. If you love roaming round historical site with very little to stop you roaming this is a must for you! All the tombs are magical and just stunning to see. Their former inhabitants would have felt very blessed! I would love to know where they are now? Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water!
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