With origins that date back to the Neolithic period, the west coast of Cyprus is a region rich with history, with numerous sites of archaeological and cultural significance to be discovered just a short distance from the magnificent Mediterranean waters. One of the most intriguing locations to visit is that of the Tombs of the Kings, a series of grand underground tombs about two kilometres north-west of Paphos harbour that date back to the 4th century BCE and have now been majorly excavated for visitors the island to explore.
The name of this surprisingly well-preserved Paphos necropolis is actually somewhat deceptive, as no kings were actually buried here – instead, the name refers to the elaborate designs of the tombs and chambers, which are carved into the rock itself. High officials and Paphitic aristocrats found their final resting place at the Tombs of the Kings, each of which features stunning details such as frescoes and sculpted Doric columns.
Excavations on the Tombs of the Kings have been underway for many centuries, but it wasn’t until the latter part of the 20th century that substantial progress was made, and the scale of the tombs could finally be truly appreciated. What was also discovered is that the style of the tombs was an anomaly in Cyprus, with their courts surrounded by columned canopies that were in fact influenced by similar necropolises in Egypt, where it was strongly believed that burial tombs should resemble living people’s homes.
The uniqueness and historical value of the Tombs of the Kings contributed towards the entire Paphos region being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1980, which will ensure that the necropolis, and the numerous remarkable archaeological sites nearby, are protected for many centuries to come.
The Houses of Dionysus, Orpheus and Aion, in which were found astonishing 3rd-to-5th century mosaics, as well as the Temple of Aphrodite and Aphrodite’s Rock, a rock which marks the site of her supposed birthplace are also among the sites that will be preserved by the UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Thousands of holidaymakers travel to Paphos every year to see these intriguing and unforgettable sites for themselves, thanks to fantastic deals from Jet2holidays that include flights and accommodation at hotels like the Athena Royal Beach Hotel, located just a few kilometres from the Tombs of the Kings and providing the perfect place at which to relax after a day of exploring.