Amathus (Amathious) An Ancient City Uncovered

In classical times Amathus was arguably Cyprus' most coveted pieces of real estate. The city's cliff top location provided protection from casual raiders, without discouraging traders and merchants plying their wares across the Mediterranean. Legend has it that Amathus was founded by one of Hercules' sons and soon flowered into one of the most important Cypriot city kingdoms of the Hellenic age. It was a regional capital under the Romans and became a Byzantine bishopric before Arab raids finished it off and the city was abandoned. Aside from the occasional looting spree, Amathus remained forgotten until the late 19th century when excavations began to unearth some of its treasures.

Amathus today

Today ancient Amathus is little more than a series of low lying excavations on the edge of Limassol and can easily be reached on foot or by taxi. While the archaeological site isn't exactly 'spectacular', it's still well worth a visit. Besides providing a lesson in classical History of Cyprus it's a great place to escape the bustle of the city beyond.

While the layman would be forgiven for likening Amathus to a building site, there's plenty to keep historical types busy, including: an acropolis, a temple complex, a paved agora (marketplace), a number of excavated houses and the remains of the city's water system. Traces of the port extend into the sea beyond and can be easily seen from the shore. Guided tourstours are available (to help visitors make sense of the excavations) otherwise it's worth getting hold of a plan.

A visit to Amathus shouldn't occupy much more than a day, although occasional theatrical and musical performances at the site might tempt you to stay longer. During the summer months it's best to schedule your visit for the early evening as the air begins to cool and the crowds start to thin.

Begin with Agora, one of the best preserved marketplaces, while the Aphrodite and Hercules temples never fail to entice travellers along.