Thursday, December 27, 2018

Day 1 in Cyprus

We spent time with ancient ruins that date back as far as the 12th century BC, and learning about Ancient Greek mythology. The weather was in the 60’s. (Teens Celsius) and sunny so we were very happy. Cyprus is very beautiful. We dipped our toes into the Mediterranean Sea and drove around the southern part. 

First stop - Aphrodite's Sanctuary.  I read a great book this past year called "Mythos" and learned more than I ever wanted to know about Greek Mythology.  Aphrodite and Cyprus were, of course, mentioned, so I knew we would have to seek our her sanctuary on our visit.

This is the earliest monumental sanctuary in Cyprus, and a great representation into the ancient world.  Originally this santuary had a shrine, surrounded by a wall.  Few items have survived to today.  There was a terrible earthquake in Cyprus in the 4th century and that seems to have destroyed a lot of the ancient sanctuaries.  



 We were amazed that so many mosaic areas survived.  We were equally surprised that they haven't been removed and put in a museum, instead of being out in the elements.






 Ancient writing that was found during the excavation.  Dates back to the 13th century B.C.
 Sarcophagus.  IT was huge and looked very very heavy.  It was made of stone.  Dates back to the 12th century, B.C.  
This stone is thought to be a cult symbol of Aphrodite.  Ancient writers describe it as aniconic (without figural representation) 
 Clay Storage Jar that was found buried in a deep pit on the Aphrodite site.  It dates back to the 14th century B.C.  

We stopped at a look out spot along the coastal road to take a look at the ocean.  Cyprus gets very little rain and has decent, sunny weather 11 months out of the year.
 The coast near Paphos, Cyprus





 Touching the Mediterranean ocean for the first time





 We visited the spot of Aphrodite's birth.  It is called Petra Tou Romiou.  (Rock of the Roman)  The Romans refer to Aphrodite as Venus.
The kids climbed on the rocks around this beach







 This is Aphrodite's rock.  The local myth is that if you swim around it, you will be blessed with eternal beauty.

 After visiting Aphrodite, it was time for some lunch.  We stopped at a little cafe along our route, and we were immediately greeted by some cats.  On Cyprus, there seems to be tons and tons of ferral cats.  They are everywhere.  This one wasn't afraid at all, and came right up to Finley to see if she would give her a bite of her lunch.

 After lunch it was on to Apollo's Santuary.  This is dedicated to the god Apollo who was thought to be the protector of Kurion, Cyprus (Where this is located).  During ancient times, this was one of the most important religious centers in Cyprus.  Apollo was worshiped as the god of the woodlands.  According to archeologist, this site dates back to the 8th century B.C.  It continued to be a place of worship until the 4th century A.D. when the earthquake hit.  The area was then abandoned.






We also visited a Colluseum in Kurion called Curium Theater that has been restored to its formal glory and is used today.
We visited an ancient stadium called the Kurion Stadium.  It dates back to the 2nd Century A.D. and is the only ancient stadium found in Cyprus.  It was huge.  It could hold 6000 people and it was the site of pentathalon events.
Here, Finley is pretending to be a queen spectator at the event.

 We saw more intact mosaic floors.  At least these ones were kept under cover.  These were a part of the ground by Apollo's Santuary, which was huge.

These are the remains of the bath houses.  They apparently had three different temperature rooms.  The first room was room temperature.  Then next a little warmer, and then finally the bath itself which was very hot.  People would come to the baths to do all of their business with other people in the city.
 We saw a few column toppers like this - still have a lot of the detail even though it is over 1000 years old.  This is marble.
 We could see the coast line from the sancturary


 This was a great one inside Apollo's Sanctuary.  Intact depiction of Roman fighters


 Our last stop of the day was Kolossi Castle.  It isn't really a Castle - but a fortification.  It was one of the most important fortifications in Cyprus.  It was built in 1210 by the Knights of St. John and was the seat of the Military on the island.  It was taken over in 1310 by the Templars, but just a few years later returned to the Ionannites.   In 1425 it was destroyed in a raid from Egypt.  It was rebuilt in 1454.  The King's symbol was placed on the outside of the fortification to remind everyone that all of them belong to the king and no one but him has the right to own towers.

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