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The “Amathunta” or “Amathus” archaeological site is located 11km east of the Limassol city centre and is considered one of the most important ancient and historical sites of cyprus. It is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site and it dates back to 1100BC. These crumbling ruins set on a hill on the eastside of Limassol, and include an agora (marketplace), a temple complex, excavated houses and the remains of the city’s water system. The various attractions of the archaeological site also include the tombs dating back to the early Iron Age period of Graeco-Phoenician and the Temple of Aphrodite.

Amathunta
Photo by N.Sitkarev

According to mythology, the ancient city was founded by King Kiniras. It was here that, Ariadne died during childbirth after eloping with Theseus, from Minoan Crete.

Ariadne
Ariadne and Theseus

Although the exact origins of this archaeological site are unclear to this day, many believe that it was first established by Greek islanders in 1000 B.C.  Over the centuries, the city thrived as a major commercial center and was ruled by the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Persians, the Ptolemies and the Romans. However, it was destroyed and abandoned in the 7th century A.D. as a result of the Arab invasions. It lay forgotten until the late 19th century when British archeologists rediscovered it.

It was here that the world’s largest stone vase was found, which is now displayed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The stone vase dates back to the 6th century BC and it is a large limestone amphora that weights 14 tons and is 1.85m high.

Amathunta vase
The Vase that is now displayed at the Louvre museum.
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