Once a thriving port city and an important Greek city-state on the eastern shore of Cyprus, Salamis offers a tantalizing glimpse into the vast history of the island. According to ancient Greek tradition, Salamis was founded after the Trojan War by the archer Teukros, son of King Telamon, who came from the island of Salamis, off the coast of Attica. Half-brother to the hero Ajax, Teukros was unable to return home from the war after failing to prevent his half-brother’s suicide, leading him to flee to Cyprus where he founded Salamis.
Successively controlled by various dominant powers, Salamis served as the island’s main port and capital for a thousand years. The city saw great wealth and dominated the island until its near-destruction in the 4th century CE following a series of earthquakes. Most of the ruins we see today are from the Roman period. Set along the sea-shore, they cover an area over one kilometre long. Among the many impressive sights to be seen at Salamis are the gymnasium devoted to the training of athletes, the Roman baths, the theatre and the basilicas.
For more than a thousand years Salamis lay buried beneath a thick layer of sand which helped preserve the city from looting and destruction.
Many Roman sculptures from the gymnasium of Salamis are housed in the Cyprus Museum, located in central Nicosia.
See more images of the archaeological site of Salamis on Flickr
See more images of the Roman sculptures from the gymnasium on Flickr