The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies two miles west of Kourion near Limassol. Here Apollo was worshipped as the god of the woodlands. This large sacred complex, one of the most important religious centres on the island of Cyprus, was established in the 8th century BC and was used continuously until the 4th century AD.
The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates witnessed major changes during Roman times. Until the 1st century AD, the centre of religious activity was an archaic altar precinct. Early in the reign of Trajan in 101 AD, the temple was given its four-column porch. At the same time, several new buildings were erected to accommodate an increasing number of visitors to the Sanctuary. The complex was badly damaged in an earthquake in the middle of the 4th century AD and was abandoned.
Covering an area of more than 15,000 square metres, the remains of the Sanctuary consist of the Temple of Apollo, the priests’ quarters, the baths, the palaestra where athletic games used to take place and a long colonnaded stoa.
Paphos is one of Cyprus’s most mesmerising archaeological sites and the most accessible to visitors. Located in the resort of Paphos on the south-west coast of the island, Nea Pafos -as it was called in antiquity- is home to a treasure trove of some of the most lavish ancient mosaics in the world.
Founded in the late 4th century BC, Pafos became the capital of the island, replacing Salamis, during the Hellenistic and Roman eras. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site is a vast archaeological area with remains of four Roman villas, an odeon, an agora, an Asclepeion (a healing temple, sacred to the god Asclepius, the god of medicine) and royal tombs.
The city originally occupied an area of about 950,000 square metres and reached its zenith during the Antonine and Severan periods (second half of 2nd / early 3rd century AD). This is reflected by the number of opulent buildings, both public and private, which survive from this period. Like Salamis, Nea Pafos was severely damaged by earthquakes on several occasions and went into decline following the devastating earthquake of the 4th century AD. A chance discovery made in 1962 by a farmer ploughing his field has brought to light exquisite mosaics that decorated the floors of wealthy residences of the Roman period.
One of the most exquisite and best-preserved mosaics unearthed at the site is the round mosaic of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Villa of Theseus, named after the representation of the Athenian hero fighting the Cretan monster in the Labyrinth. The most spectacular group of mosaics comes from the House of Dionysus. The building occupies an area of about 2000 square metres, of which 556 are covered with mosaic floors. A short walk away lie the Agora (forum), the Asclepeion and the Odeon where musical performances were held. These buildings constituted the heart of the ancient city.