Salamis (Koullouri) the bay, history and restored ruins in Cyprus

cyprus 1457498 1920


Shaded beneath a forest of acacias, the ancient city of Salamis dozes under the Levantine sun. Excavations at Cyprus’ most important archaeological site have yet to gather steam and much of the city still lies undiscovered beneath the sand dunes. For anyone interested in antiquity, Salamis is a treasure trove of Roman and Byzantine remains; where visitors can explore crumbling basilicas, royal tombs and wander along classical colonnades which have stood undisturbed for centuries. Excavations have unveiled the Collonade which sports several ancient columns dating back it is thought to the Hellenistic times, often referred to as the Gymnasium. This and the Roman Theatre, now largely restored, should be high on your list of places to see.

Once you’ve had your cultural fill there’s a lovely beach nearby where it’s possible to camp for the night.

Salamis was founded by the Trojan hero Teucer having been exiled from Greece by his father King Telamon. The fledgling settlement quickly grew to become the greatest Cypriot city kingdom and a key player in the complicated wars of the Hellenic period. In the 5th century BC Salamis’ most famous native son Evagoras united the 10 Cypriot city states in a federation that fought the Persian Empire to a standstill. The Romans established Salamis as the capital of Cyprus and it remained the main commercial centre through the early Christian and Byzantine era. However, the city was to suffer a melancholy fate, with a combination of seismic activity and Arab piracy bringing it to its knees. Later the harbour began to silt up and Salamis was abandoned.

Salamis Bay is the unexpected highlight of many people’s trip to Cyprus and you’ll need a whole afternoon to really do it justice. From the car park it’s a 15 minute walk to the ruins, so bring a decent pair of walking shoes and a bottle of water. One and a half millennia of neglect mean the whole area is unprotected from the elements and the site is much as it was when Arab raiders last ravaged it. Many of the obvious artefacts have been looted or damaged, but what remains is impressive and the fine Roman amphitheatre occasionally hosts the odd musical or theatrical performance.