Amathus was one of the most ancient royal cities of Cyprus. Its ancient cult of Aphrodite was the most important, after Paphos, in Cyprus, her homeland, though the ruins of Amathus are less well-preserved than neighboring Kourion.
The pre-history of Amathus mixes myth and archaeology. Though there was no Bronze Age city on the site, archaeology has detected human activity that is evident from the earliest Iron Age, c. 1100 BC. The city's legendary founder was Cinyras, linked with the birth of Adonis, who called the city after his mother Amathous. According to a version of the Ariadne legend noted by Plutarch, Theseus abandoned Ariadne at Amathousa, where she died giving birth to her child and was buried in a sacred tomb. According to Plutarch's source, Amathousians called the sacred grove where her shrine was situated the Wood of Aphrodite Ariadne. More purely Hellenic myth would have Amathus settled instead by one of the sons of Heracles, thus accounting for the fact that he was worshiped there.
Amathus was built on the coastal cliffs with a natural harbor and flourished at an early date, soon requiring several cemeteries. Greeks from Euboea left their pottery at Amathus from the 10th century BC. During the post-Phoenician era of the 8th century BC, a palace was erected and a port was also constructed, which served the trade with the Greeks and the Levantines. A special burial ground for infants, a tophet served the culture of the Phoenicians. For the Hellenes, high on the cliff a temple was built, which became a worship site devoted to Aphrodite, in her particular local presence as Aphrodite Amathusia along with a bearded male Aphrodite called Aphroditos. The excavators discovered the final stage of the Temple of Aphrodite, also known as Aphrodisias, which dates approximately to the 1st century BC. According to the legend, it was where festive Adonia took place, in which athletes competed in hunting wild boars during sport competitions; they also competed in dancing and singing, all to the honour of Adonis.
The earliest remains hitherto found on the site are tombs of the early Iron Age period of Graeco-Phoenician influences (1000-600 BC). Amathus is identified with Kartihadasti (Phoenician 'New-Town') in the Cypriote tribute-list of Esarhaddon of Assyria (668 BC). It certainly maintained strong Phoenician sympathies, for it was its refusal to join the philhellene league of Onesilos of Salamis which provoked the revolt of Cyprus from Achaemenid Persia in 500-494 BC, when Amathus was besieged unsuccessfully and avenged itself by the capture and execution of Onesilos.
Amathus was a rich and densely populated kingdom with a flourishing agriculture and mines situated very close to the northeast Kalavasos. In the Roman era it became the capital of one of the four administrative regions of Cyprus. Later, in the 4th century AD, Amasus became the see of a Christian bishop and continued to flourish until the Byzantine period. In the late 6th century, Ayios Ioannis Eleimonas (Saint John the Charitable), protector of the Knights of St. John, was born in Amathus. Sometime in the first half of the 7th century Anastasius Sinaita, the famous prolific monk of the Saint Catherine's Monastery, was also born there. It is thought that he left Cyprus after the 649 Arab conquest of the island, setting out for the Holy Land, eventually becoming a monk on Sinai.
Amathus still flourished and produced a distinguished patriarch of Alexandria, St. John the Merciful, as late as 606-616, and a ruined Byzantine church marks the site; but it declined and was already almost deserted when Richard Plantagenet won Cyprus by a victory there over Isaac Comnenus in 1191. The tombs were plundered and the stones from the beautiful edifices were brought to Limassol to be used for new constructions. Much later, in 1869, a great number of blocks of stone from Amathus were used for the construction of the Suez Canal.
The city had vanished, except fragments of wall and of a great stone cistern on the acropolis. A similar vessel was transported to the Musée du Louvre in 1867, a limestone dim, used for storing the must from the grapes, which dates to the 6th century BC. It is 1.85 m high and weighs 14 tons. It was made from a single stone and has four curved handles bearing the head of a bull.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.