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Tombs of the Kings - Historical Tours

The Tombs of the Kings is a large necropolis that is located just outside the walls, to the north and east of Pafos town in Cyprus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.) to satisfy the needs of the newly founded Nea Paphos. Its name is not connected with the burial of kings, as the royal institution was abolished in 312 B.C., but rather with the impressive character of its burial monuments. The underground tombs are cut into the native rock, and at times imitated the houses of the living. 4VIP Tour conducts a tour of this site.

The 'Tombs of the Kings' was the place where Paphitic aristocrats, high ranking administrative officers and about 100 distinguished Ptolemaic personalities as well as the members of their families who lived and died in Paphos were buried. The necropolis was continuously used as a burial area during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (3rd century B.C.-beginning of 4th century A.D.). There is sufficient evidence to support the fact that the first Christians also used the site for their burials, while at the same time the site constituted an endless quarry. One of the tombs was turned into a chapel. In the Middle Ages, some tombs were used as makeshift dwellings or as workplaces—pottery was made in tomb 3. Squatters established themselves in some of the tombs during the medieval period and made alterations to the original architecture. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site. If required, an excursion to Tomb of Kings in Cyprus can be arranged, along with other sites.

The existence of the site was already known at the end of the 19th century by Cesnola, who looted the tombs without compunction. In 1915-16, the then curator of the Cyprus Museum, Markides excavated some shaft tombs, while the honorary curator of Paphos Museum, Loizos Philippou started clearance work in a few others tombs in 1937. But it was in 1977 that systematic excavations were undertaken by the Department of Antiquities, which brought to light eight large tomb complexes.

Most of the tombs are characterised by an underground, open aired, peristyled rectangular atrium completely carved into the natural rock. Columns or pillars of the Doric style supported the porticoes, which surrounded the atrium. The burial chambers and the loculi for single burials were dug into the portico walls. It seems that the walls were originally covered with frescoes although today only small fragments are preserved. The tombs' architectural characteristics directly relate them to Hellenistic prototypes from Alexandria, Delos, Pergamon and Priene.

What to See at Tombs of the Kings

The design is heavily indebted to Macedonian prototypes, passed on from Alexander's armies to the Ptolemies. Eight complexes have been singled out and numbered for visitors, with 3, 4, and 8 being the most elaborate.

Some tombs are reached via stairs that lead into sunken rectangular courts surrounded by Doric columns carved from the rock. Originally the tombs were covered with stucco and the walls were decorated with frescoes. Beyond the colonnades, passages lead to rooms with niches (loculi) for individual corpses. Bodies were buried with costly grave goods, including jewelry and cosmetic boxes. As was common in the classical world, on the anniversaries of death loved ones would hold a ceremonial meal (nekrodhipno) at the tomb, with the leftovers deposited near the body.

One tomb has a large rectangular stone block in the center of the atrium and loculi ornamented around the sides. Archaeologists have excavated 18 burials from the Hellenistic period in this tomb, three of which had not been robbed due to collapsed material in front of them. Two of them contained an ointment container, a myrtle wreath of gold and fine Rhodian amphorae. In the third, a child had been buried in a terracotta pipe. Well worth one Cyprus excursion, some would think.

Note: Carry sufficient drinking water as this place can become awfully hot.

Private car with driver for 3 hours
120 euro

Additional hour
25 euro

Cost based on 2-4 Person

Private minibus with driver for 3 hours
220 euro

Additional hour
35 euro

Cost based on 5-8 Person

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