Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ancient Kourion

There is nothing so boring as other people's holiday snaps. But once in a while, its nice to be able to vicariously visit (or re-visit) places of interest. This was a nice place I visited last winter in Cyprus....interesting particularly because it is pretty much off the beaten track.

Kourion is a Roman city on the south coast of Cyprus. It is situated way up on the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean, which means a bit of a trek to get fresh water. The cliff seems to have a tendency to break away during the frequent earthquakes, nibbling the city away. It was abandoned along with the rest of the Latin Roman Empire because...well...the harbour filled up, and its economic role was replaced by Famagusta on the East, and Paphos on the West, Limasol and Larnika just down the road from here, and Kyrenia on the North. This place, Kourion, became a religious centre, the temple to Apollo was here. Thats it, down below. And when it shook one last time in the earthquake, the people just decided to say to heck with this, and went back to Rome.

Random ruins above, and the wall on the right is to prevent tourists from slipping over the edge.
Above is a fine hypocaust. The little pillars would have had a floor laid over top of them, and they would have built a little fire to warm the floor. Sort of central heating. I note that unlike other hypocausts I have seen, there does not seem to be a lot of soot staining the bricks. Perhaps that is because there is not a lot of need for central heating in Cyprus? Just a guess.
Above is the cross street. All Roman cities have a main east-west street, and north south street. This is the crossroads. The cross street here was actually pretty steep, and it was in steps, like Halifax or St John Newfoundland, or come to think of it, most of Malta. I don't think they had a lot of wheeled traffic here. Not because it was too small...this place is just as big as Pompii, and you can see the cart ruts in Pompii. No, this seems to be pretty much a walking town.
A visit to the theatre is always nice. That wooden part in back is where the stage used to seems to have found a stable location at the foot of the cliff. There are still plenty of foundations under the wooden part that people are standing on over in back there. They put on rock concerts now...and its all electrified and there are big mounts for speakers. What an awesome place to have a concert!

This place has some of the nicest mosaics! Standard shapes, mostly, like the interwoven links above, the labyrinths below, and the inscriptions. These mosaics are designed to have a couple of inches of water on top of them. This makes the colours really pop!

Above is a nice bath. One would need a bath after lugging all that water all the way up here!

Hope you enjoyed them.


Pacific College Mom said...

These are absolutely gorgeous! You can walk around and really get close to these? Touch em? That blows my mind compared to the way most sites and museums would treat this sort of thing. Too bad in one respect they won't last as long, but to be able to get up close and personal with something so rich in history is just a rare treat. Thanks very much for sharing! Can't imagine how I missed these the last time you posted them...

STAG said...

Some parts are too delicate to walk over. Many of the mosaics in the pictures I posted here have undergone extensive consolidation, though thank goodness, no restoration, and those you don't want to walk over! The catwalks provide observation points over the most delicate ruins. Of course standard roads, forums, pillars, altars and stuff are out in the open, and yes, you can touch them. Walk on them. In Saint Hilarion Castle, I think the tourists were even using the medieval toilets. (lended a rather authentic odor I think, but didn't hurt them any! And NO, I did not!)
I have two major blogs here, and I often post medieval stuff on my other "medieval" blog. Some of these pictures have been posted there. I post more frequently on my Medieval Blog. Click on my picture and follow the links to "SouthTowerArmouringGuild dot blogspot etc.