The Tombs of the Kings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is found within a couple of kilometres of the centre of Paphos. The site is incredibly vast, although you may initially wonder why it is regarded as being quite so remarkable.
When you arrive at the site, an initial glance at what is in front of you only allows you to see a tiny percentage of what is present. That’s because the tombs are underground and have been carved out of the surrounding rock.
This is an ancient site and it’s known that the creation of the tombs occurred almost 2,500 years ago. Despite the name of the complex, this was never actually the resting place of kings. Instead, it is thought that it once housed the remains of various local officials. The size and beauty of the site led to it being given its present name, representing the majestic structure.
People have known about the presence of these tombs for generations, but detailed archaeological work has really only been carried out in recent years. The site continues to reveal the mysteries of the ancients and there is particular interest, due to the fact that many of the bodies were buried alongside artefacts.
This has allowed archaeologists to detail significant finds and has also helped with the process of dating some remains. It’s expected that the Tombs of the Kings will reveal more secrets over the coming years.
It should be noted that there is a lack of information boards available at the site. If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of the Tombs of the Kings, then it’s certainly worthwhile purchasing a guide book, in order to accompany your visit. Fortunately, entry to the site is inexpensive, meaning that this is an excursion that represents value for money, despite such a small, additional cost.
A car hire from Paphos provides the easiest way to reach the site. It also ensures you have a direct means of exploring this historic site and its surroundings.
Located within a short walk of the centre of Paphos is the similarly expansive archaeological site of Nea Paphos. It is here that you can see the remains of the ancient city, which was founded in the 4th century BC.
Nea Paphos is believed to have been an important settlement within the empire that was ruled by the Ptolemies, who had their capital city in Alexandria. It’s likely that Nea Paphos provided them with a useful strategic position, allowing them to control the movements of shipping and goods on the Mediterranean.
The excavations at Nea Paphos have already revealed a large theatre and a public fountain, as well as offering an insight into life for those who lived here centuries ago. Local legend suggests that the old city was founded by Nikokles, who is known to have ruled the kingdom of Paphos. Scholars have, however, suggested that it’s likely that the city may not actually have been founded until after the death of Nikokles, although there is a lack of documentary evidence available.
As with many historical sites in Cyprus, visitors are encouraged to roam relatively freely around the ruins. Once again, there is something of a lack of information provided at the site, although guide books and archaeological blogs do help visitors to discover more about the role played by Nea Paphos.
The site tends to get relatively busy during the summer months, but it’s rarely too crowded. Given the lack of shade available, it’s always worthwhile bringing your own water, particularly on the warmest days of the year.
A combined visit to the Tombs of the Kings and Nea Paphos can be undertaken within the space of a day, allowing you to get a comprehensive introduction to the history of the town.