Cyprus archaeological sites are extremely versatile because they date back to different eras. The history of the island goes back thousands of years. And you can see some signs of the ancient civilizations all over it. They include some of the most notable archaeological discoveries in the world, like the Stone Age wells. As a tourist looking for the most interesting things to do in Cyprus, you should visit the most well-preserved of the ancient monuments. There you can not only admire the skill of ancient architects and builders. But you can also learn a lot about the history of civilization in Europe.
Top 10 Cyprus Archaeological Sites: Best Places to Visit for a History Buff
Tombs of the Kings
Tombs of the Kings are one of the main Cyprus points of interest. In fact, the entirety of Paphos, where they are located, is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Tombs of the Kings are a necropolis, which is also considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They date back to the 4th century B.C. and present an invaluable source for archaeologists and historians.
The excavations on the site are ongoing but many of the structures are open to the public. This includes ancient underground tombs that are the final resting place of many aristocrats.
Kition actually hosts two of the major Cyprus archaeological sites, Pampoula and Kathari. Visiting those should be on the top of your things to do in Larnaca list as they are truly remarkable.
The discoveries in the sites date back to the 13th century B.C. You can see the remnants of ancient temples and dwellings. Many of the artifacts recovered during the excavation are displayed in the Larnaka Museum.
Kourion is one of the Cyprus archaeological sites that date back to the Bronze Age. The remnants of the ancient acropolis are located not far from Limassol. Kourion stands on top of a hill and has one of the richest collections of archaeological remains on the island.
The main points of interest on the site are the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, as well as the stadium, aqueducts, and the Northwestern Basilica,
Tamasos is another city-kingdom that is one of the top places to visit in Cyprus if you love history. It is located close to Nicosia and the origins of the city remain a mystery. Modern historians believe it was founded around the 8th century B.C. However, tombs discovered during excavations are much older.
The city went into decline around the 10th century A.D. The region remained inhabited and people live there until this day.
Kalvasos-Tenta is one of the main Cyprus archaeological sites that date back to the Stone Age. It’s located in the Larnaca District and you can visit it every weekday. This site proves that stationary settlements existed in Cyprus for thousands of years.
Kalvasos-Tenta is a very special place where you can literally go back millennia while learning about the history of Cypriots. The site also fills one with reverence toward our predecessors as many of the buildings remain partially intact despite being so ancient.
Nea Pafos is one of the top Cyprus archaeological sites that date back to the Ptolemaic Kingdom. The city used to be the center of Ptolemaic Administration. This means, it was the literal capital of the island.
A destructive earthquake changed this in the 4th century A.D. However, Nea Pafos remained an important city for many years after this. It finally went into decline during the Middle Ages. People moved from there to the place where contemporary city of Paphos is located.
Amathous used to be a royal city and even today you can see its majestic beauty. Visiting this place should be one of the top things to do in Cyprus for everyone because it’s truly grand.
You can still see remnants of the palace, baths, port, many dwellings, and the Roman Temple of Aphrodite. The Tomb of Ariadne, located in the acropolis, proves that people lived in Amathous as far back as 11th century B.C.
Palaipafos is where the people lived before Nea Pafos was established. Today it’s another one of the major Cyprus archaeological sites located in the Paphos area. For a long time, Palaipafos was the biggest and busiest city on the island. Today you can admire numerous ruins of ancient buildings, including temples.
The Sanctuary of Aphrodite and House of Leda are two of the most notable attractions on the site. However, there are many other places of interest located there, and some are far less ancient. For example, the Church of Panagia Katholiki, which dates back to the 12th century A.D.
If you are interested in Cyprus archaeological sites relevant to the Christian period on the island, you need to visit Agios Georgios. Commonly referred to as merely St. George, the basilica remains on the site are a place of pilgrimage.
Today you can also visit the more modern St. George Church located nearby. The excavation site offers a great opportunity to learn about the architecture of religious complexes.
Maa-Paliocastro is a small archaeological site located not far from Paphos. The excavation discovered remnants of an Aegean refugee settlement that dates back to 1200 B.C.
The site is relatively small, but has a great museum where you can learn a lot about that ancient period.
Best Places to Visit in Cyprus for History Lovers: Final Thoughts
Please bear in mind that this is the list of only the top Cyprus archaeological sites open to the public. There are many more historic sites on the island and some remarkably well-preserved buildings. Everywhere you go in Cyprus you can find a piece of history, so keep your eyes open at all times.
To get access to popular archaeological sites in Cyprus and permits to take photographs, check with the Department of Antiquities.