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Kourio Theatre

To the south of the complex, an amphitheatrical natural hollow hosted a Roman theatre which had a capacity of about 3.500 spectators. The theatre was built at the end of the 2nd century A.D., was slightly restored in the 3rd century and was probably abandoned in the 4th century. Archaeological and architectural data testify that the original theatre of Kourio was a Hellenistic theatre, small in size, dating back to the second century B.C. The original theatre was used for performances of Greek tragedies and comedies. Currently, it is restored and is used for Greek tragedies, works of Shakespeare, as well as other performances. (B.) The House of Eustolios. Next to the theatre are the remains of the House of Eustolios, consisting of as many as thirty rooms with a bathing complex, dating from the 4th to the middle of the 7th century A.D. The floors of the porticoes are paved with beautiful mosaic compositions depicting fishes, birds and a partridge with Greek inscriptions. Another well-preserved mosaic, of exquisite art, bordered by a circle, is the head of a woman with the word CTICIS. The highest part of the site is occupied by the baths. The baths were functioning with cold as well as warm water.

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There is also an inscription which refers to the name of Eustolios, the founder of the baths. Most probably the original building was private but with the addition of baths and mosaic pavements it was transformed into a recreational space. (C.) The Early Christian Basilica. The old-Christian basilica of Kourio, dating back to the 5th century A.D., is one of the most spacious basilicas of ancient Cyprus. The basilica was the cathedral of the first bishops of the town. The visitor can see the granite pillars which separated the aisles from the main body of the church. Twelve granite columns, with marble bases and capitals separated the nave from the aisles. The visitor can also wander about and look at the narthex in the center of which lies a hexagonal pond, the baptistery in the shape of a cross, as well as other details of the basilica. The basilica of Kourio was destroyed by the Arab raids of the 7th century A.D. and was replaced by the bishopric (episkopi) at the neighbouring village of Episkopi, which obtained its name from the new bishopric. (D.) The Roman Forum and the Nymphaeum. Close to the early Christian basilica is a complex of buildings dating back from the early Hellenistic period up to the 7th century

A.D. In this complex the visitor can see the water works, the Roman forum and the Roman nymphaeum. The main reservoir is cut into the limestone bedrock and is fed from the west by a shallow ditch. The Roman forum with the colonnaded stoa is situated in the middle of the town of Kourio and, as expected, it was the meeting place of the citizens as well as the market-place. Recent excavations have unearthed the Roman nympheum built with huge hewn limestone blocks. It was the central public space for water supply as well as the sacred building of Nymphae, the protector deities of the water. (E.) The House of Gladiators. The house obtained its name from the mosaic compositions representing gladiators, fighting in pairs. The visitor will not fail to observe the gladiators, with their name in classical Greek, ready for the fight. It is mentioned that the mosaic compositions are unique not only in Cyprus but throughout Greece and the Near East. (F.) The House of Achilles. The house lies at the northern entrance to the Kourio site, most probably constructed in the 2nd century A.D., being a public place for the reception of officials. It is worth seeing the mosaics which depict Ulysses at Skyros where he recognized Achilles, disguised in a woman. The visitor should roam about the entire complex to look at the drainage system with the clay conduits which served a town, of about 30.000 people. The world of

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Kourio, judging from what the visitor sees, knew all about architecture, town planning, decoration, athletics, theatre and aesthetics. Kourio Beach. Below the vertical limestone cliffs of Kourio stretches a narrow coastal plain bordered by a sandy beach.

The Stadium of Kourio lies about 2 km west of the archaeological site of Kourio. Built in the second century A.D., during the Roman era, it was used for some 200 years. It has a horseshoe periphery with three entrances, two in the long sides and one in the curved one. The archaeological excavations of the Unversity of Pennsylvania in 1939 and 1947 shed ample light on the structure of the stadium and the location of the seven rows of seats with a capacity of about 6.000 spectators. The dimensions of the stadium are 217m x 17m which correspond to the normal dimensions of almost all Greco-roman stadia. It is not yet known whether statues decorated the sides of the stadium, as it is not known which events were performed. The athletes, as in Greece, were contesting only for a simple wreath, made of olive branches, which grew close by. Basilica at At Meydan. At a small distance from the stadium, on an imposing site, stands a ruined basilica dating from the 5th to the 7th c A.D. It was, most probably used for special ceremonies, as it was situated outside the city walls.

From the Sanctuary of Apollo (Temple of Apollo)

Apollo, a significant deity of ancient religions, was considered to be the god of light, of sun, of poetry and music. He was the protector of farmers and stock breeders’ toil. At ancient Kourio Apollo was worshipped as the god of forests from which he obtained the name of Apollo Ilatis. (in ancient Greek Hyle=forest, woodland). Even currently the Sanctuary of Apollo, 2 km north-west of Kourio, lies in a forest. In this forest, in ancient and medieval times, wild animals, among which deer, used to live. The Sanctuary of Apollo was used from the 7th c B.C. till the 4th c A.D. It would be advisable for the visitor to start his exploration from the western door of the site, known as Pafos gate. On his left the broad steps lead to two narrow elongated chambers which most probably housed the visitors. Visitors, however, were housed in the southern building situated near the arcade. Five chambers separated by a corridor are clearly seen. On the facade of a chamber, rebuilt lately, an inscription informs that two of the chambers were built by Trajan in 101 A.D. The five chambers were either used as dormitories or for the display of offerings. No doubt, the people’s offerings were numerous. In a pit north-east of the southern building, hundreds of pots and statues were found, dating from the 5th century B.C. to the Roman era. From the votive pit a narrow paved street leads to the temple of Apollo. The four-pillared temple was small because ceremonies were usually carried out in the open. The reconstruction of the temple began in 1979. It is Strabo who informs us that those who profanely touched the altar of Apollo were killed by being thrown over the cliffs of Kourio. Coming back from the temple, on your left stood the ancient temple. Close by most probably, was the residence of the priest and his treasury. The baths, rather independent, were close by as well. Northwest of the baths, next to the priest’s residence, lies the Archaic Precinct (Temenos). The wrestling place (palaistra) where athletes were exercised in an open courtyard, surrounded by a row of columns, lies to the south-east of the complex.

d) Following the Limassol-Pafos road west of Kourio

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