Another of the major archaeological attractions of Paphos, Tombs of the Kings is a site of monumental underground tombs carved out of solic rock which date back to 300 BC. High ranking officials were buried there, rather than actual Kings, but the magnificence of the tombs gave the locality it’s grand name.
As mentioned above, it’s name is not connected with the burial of kings (the royal institution was abolished in 312 B.C.), but rather with the impressive character of its burial monuments. The ‘Tombs of the Kings’ was the place where the higher administrative officers and distinguished Ptolemaic personalities as well as the members of their families were buried. The necropolis was continuously used as a burial area during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (3rd century B.C.-beginning of 4th century A.D.). There is sufficient evidence to support the fact that the first Christians also used the site for their burials, while at the same time the site constituted an endless quarry. Squatters established themselves in some of the tombs during the Medieval period and made alterations to the original architecture.
Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site, and although the tombs have been known and casually explored for centuries, they were first subjected to systematic excavation in the later 1970s and the 1980s under the direction of Dr Sophocles Hadjisavvas, now Director of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus.
Dr Hadjisavvas is preparing the finds for publication with assistance from the Australian archaeological mission to Paphos.
What to See at Tombs of the Kings
The tombs are impressive, carved out of solid rock, some featuring Doric pillars and frescoed walls: eight complexes have been singled out and numbered for visitors, with 3, 4, and 8 being the most elaborate.
Some tombs are reached via stairs that lead into sunken rectangular courts surrounded by Doric columns carved from the rock. Beyond the colonnades, passages lead to rooms with niches (loculi) for individual corpses. Bodies were buried with costly grave goods, including jewellery and cosmetic boxes.
One tomb has a large rectangular stone block in the centre of the atrium and loculi ornamented around the sides. Archaeologists have excavated 18 burials from the Hellenistic period in this tomb, three of which had not been robbed due to collapsed material in front of them. Two of them contained an ointment container, a myrtle wreath of gold and fine Rhodian amphorae. In the third, a child had been buried in a terracotta pipe.
How to get there: Click HERE for the google map location of Tombs of the Kings.
|Opening hours||Winter hours (16/9 – 15/4 )
Monday – Sunday: 8.30 – 17.00Summer hours (16/4 – 15/9)
Monday – Sunday: 8.30 – 19.30
|Admission||€2,50 (free on a Sunday for EU passport holders)|
Entrance: The ticket area and the archaeological site are wheelchair accessible ( view only from above)