Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amathus Ruins at Acropolis Hill

The Amathus Ruins at Acropolis Hill are located near the Amathus Archaeological Site, which is located east of the city of Limassol, within the Limassol district of Cyprus. 

As an extension to the official Amathus Archaeological Site, there are ancient ruins scattered throughout the nearby hillside, commonly called Acropolis Hill.  These ancient ruins include an Early Christian Basilica, Temple of Aphrodite, Acropolis, Defense Walls, and various other ancient ruins.

The ancient ruins of an Early Christian Basilica is situated at the base of Acropolis Hill, along the coastal side of Amathus.  This three-aisled Byzantine basilica was built during the 5th century.

Near the official Amathus Archaeological Site's entrance, there are steps leading to the Acropolis.  However, the steps soon become a small trail for most of the pathway to the top of Acropolis Hill.

The Temple of Aphrodite (also known as the Sanctuary of Aphrodite) is situated at the top of Acropolis Hill.  This Greek-style temple was built during the 1st century with foundational ruins dating back even further. 

According to a sign at the Amathus Archaeological Site, "Probably originating from an earlier fertility goddess and having absorbed the characteristics of Near Eastern deities, the Cypriot Aphrodite was seen as having universal power....  For more than 2000 years, she remained in Cyprus as the Goddess, the Sovereign, until she was completely identified in the 4th century BC with the Greek Aphrodite.  She was also closely associated with Astarte, the Phoenician equivalent of Aphrodite.  Remembrance of her, blended with the memory of medieval Lusignan queens, still lingers in the figure of the Regina, associated with medieval places and still present in Cypriot folk tales."

Even today, Aphrodite is considered a popular cultural symbol throughout Cyprus.  According to several signs at the Amathus Archaeological Site, "The Temple of Aphrodite at Amathus is one of the three most important Cypriot temples of the Roman period....  Aphrodite was worshiped in Amathus as a very important deity until the end of the 4th century AD....  End of the 4th century, Christianity is established.  Saint Tychon drives the worshipers of Aphrodite out of the temple."

In the 5th century AD, the area surrounding part of the Temple of Aphrodite was utilized as a place of worship for Christians.  In the 7th century, the already destroyed Temple was replaced with a large three-aisled basilica.

According to a sign at the Amathus Archaeological Site, around 500-700 AD, "The temple is partly repaired and may have been used by Christians.  Next to the temple, a Christian basilica was built using the stone blocks of the temple." 

Most ancient items discovered in Amathus are displayed in the Limassol District Archaeological Museum and the Cyprus Archaeological Museum.  However, one ancient item from Amathus was transported to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, during the 19th century.  This massive vase was the largest ancient item discovered in Amathus, weighing 14 tons and made of limestone from one single stone.  Today, there's a modern replica in it's place at the Acropolis.

At the Acropolis, there's also the Tomb of Ariadne, which dates back to the 11th century BC.  After the Hellenistic period, the Acropolis was mostly abandoned.

During the Archaic period, the city of Amathus was fortified with massive Defense Walls that were reinforced during the Hellenistic period.  These walls were rebuilt and restored several times, including when the southeast section of the walls suffered major damage, due to an earthquake in the 4th century.  Today, these Defense Walls are mere fragments as compared to the past.

Throughout the hillside, there are various ancient Amathus ruins of homes and other buildings to explore.  Some of these ancient ruins were houses built during the Hellenistic period.

The ancient Amathus Ruins at Acropolis Hill are enjoyable to explore, and it's a nice hike throughout the hillside.  From the top of Acropolis Hill, there's a lovely view of the city of Limassol, as well as the main Amathus Archaeological Site and other ancient Amathus ruins.

Site: Amathus Ruins at Acropolis Hill. 

Category: Archaeological Site. 

Location: About 10 km east of the city of Limassol, within the Limassol district of Cyprus. 

Phone Number: N/A. 

Operating Hours: Daylight hours.

Entrance Fee: Free. 

Date of Visit: 2010 and 2011.

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