The ancient city-kingdom was built on the hills Kourion, on the west coast of Limassol, and overlooked and controlled the fertile valley of the river Kouris, being occupied from at least the Ceramic Neolithic period (4500-3800 BCE). Founded in Neolithic times, the Kourion flourished under the Mycenaeans, Ptolemies, Romans and, later, the Christians until it was destroyed in an earthquake around 365 A.D.
According to Mythology, Kourion has been named after its founder, Koureus, the son of the mythical king of Pafos Kinyras.
The most important monuments at the site are:
The Agora: The Roman Agora is a structure of the early 3rd century A.D. with additions dating to the Early Christian period. It was built on the remains of an earlier public building and is surrounded on both sides by porticos with marble columns.
The House of Achilles: A Roman villa of the first half of the 4th century A.D.. It has a central peristyle court and several rooms which are decorated with mosaic floors, one of which depicts the popular story of the revealing of Achilles’ true identity by Odysseus in the court of the king Lycomedes at Skyros.
The House of the Gladiators: This Roman house,situated a few meters to the east of the House of Achilles , dates to the second half of the 3rd century A.D.. Mosaics decorate the east and south wings of the courtyard, the most important ones being those in the east wing depicting a Gladiator combat scene.
The Baths and the Complex of Eustolios: The complex of Eustolios dates back to the end of the 4th century and the early 5th century A.D. and it is situated at the southeast end of Kourion. It consists of many rooms surrounding two courtyards and a bath establishment and a group of mosaic pavements cover the majority of the building.
The Early Christian Basilica: South of the Agora are the remains of the large complex of buildings belonging to the three-aisled basilica, the cathedral of Kourion. Originally built in the beginning of the 5th century A.D., it underwent architectural alterations and received new mosaic and opus sectile pavements in the 6th century. After the destruction of the basilica in the 7th century many pieces belonging to its mural marble sculpture were transferred and incorporated in the pavement of the newly-erected church of the neighbouring village of Episkopi.
The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates
The sanctuary is located about 2,5 kilometres west of the ancient town of Kourion and it was one of the main religious centres of ancient Cyprus, where Apollo was worshipped as god of the woodlands during the 8th century B.C. until the 4th century A.D. The site has undergone many extensions and alterations in different periods, but the majority of the monuments belong to the site’s 1st century AD restorations.
The Theatre: Originally built in the 2nd century B.C., the theatre underwent multiple additions and restorations during the Roman period. The curved auditorium accommodates approximately 3500 people in the spectators’ seating area and the stage only preserves its foundations but it originally rose to the full height of the auditorium.
The Stadium: The ancient stadium was built in the 2nd century A.D. and was used until the end of the 5th century and it’s ruins are preserved to the east of the sanctuary of Apollo. The stadium has a U-shaped plan with seven rows of seats accommodating approximately 6000 spectators.
The Small Basilica: The three-aisled small basilica of Kourion, situated next to the stadium, dates to the 5th century A.D. The basilica had a narthex and an atrium with four porticos in the west and in the middle of the atrium there was a reservoir that was destroyed and replaced by a medieval limestone kiln.
The Kourion is one of, if not the most famous ancient attractions in Cyprus and it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage sight. It is a great sight to visit and experience a cultural and historical aspect of the Island.