For a long time, I did not talk about the history of the island and the ancient cities. And about archaeological excavations – so, in my opinion, not once. Today I want to tell and show you, friends, my favorite archaeological complex – Salamis.
This is one of those places that allow our imagination to draw pictures in our heads of how the great city looked more than 2,000 years ago. Well, let’s go.
So, in ancient times, in the territory of Cyprus, there were 12 city-states. The largest and most powerful state then was Salamis. Its territories included the entire eastern part of the island, including the Karpas peninsula.
Wikipedia map :
According to legend, the city founded the best archer of the Greek army in the Trojan War – Tevkr. Coming from the Illiad, he killed 15 people named in the epic by name; according to other sources, 30 people died from the arrows of Tevkra. After the war ended, he returned to his native island of Salamis (Greece), but was expelled by his father for not saving his brother. Following the instructions of Apollo, Tevkr settled in Cyprus. Then he built the temple of Zeus, sacrificed a man to him, married the daughter of the Cypriot king Evne and founded the new Salamis (Salamis).
The history of the state is more or less known since the 7th century BC. For several centuries, Salamis was the largest centre of intermediary trade, thanks to its harbour, which contained many ships. And in 538 BC King Eleuton had already minted his coin here (the first of the Cypriot coins). Later, the state passed into the hands of the Ptolemies, and then the Romans, who transferred the island’s capital to Paphos. Salamis returned the status of the main city of Cyprus Emperor Constantine in the IV century. In the same IV century, a number of powerful earthquakes occurred on the island, which completely destroyed Salamis. Some even say that most of the city went under water. Under the rule of the son of Constantine – Consanze II, the city was restored and renamed in honor of the emperor. The history of the great state ends, as, indeed, of all the other ancient Cypriot states, during the attacks of the Arabs in the 7th century. Then the residents were forced to flee to neighboring Ammakhostos (Famagusta).
Let’s take a walk around Salamis and see what remains of it.
Of all the archaeological complexes, as for me, it impresses the most. And this is taking into account the fact that only a small part of the former state has been excavated at the moment. Salamis is the only complex where not only columns and parts of the floor remain, but also walls, arches, roads, statues …
In some places there were even parts of the ceilings where you can see drawings and mosaics.
Best of all, the ancient gymnasium has certainly been preserved. Or rather, his yard, surrounded by columns. It was built in the Hellenistic period. And in the 1st century A.D., Emperor Augustus rebuilt it into Palestine. It was a place where they were going to not only play sports but also talk about politics, philosophy and art.
Before the IV century earthquakes, the columns were stone. After reconstruction, they were replaced by marble ones.
At the same time, the purpose of this place also changed – it was converted into public baths with large outdoor pools.
The baths were decorated with statues of the gods.
On the floor, there are still preserved ancient plates with inscriptions.
Another place that can not be ignored is the public toilet:
Further along the route is a huge amphitheater, the largest in the entire Eastern Mediterranean. It consisted of 50 rows and accommodated 15 thousand spectators.
On both sides of the orchestra were statues of Commodus, Constantine and Maxentius. Now there are such pedestals, on which inscriptions are still visible:
In the center of the wall was an altar in honor of the god Dionysos, who was sacrificed before the performances.
In the IV century, it is not clear for what reason, the theater was abandoned. And its columns, parts of the walls and orchestras were used for the construction of the term. At the moment, the amphitheater is the only fully restored building in Salamis.
After the amphitheater, we go out onto the columned Salamis Street or, as we called it, Main Street.
It will lead us to a fork in which we first turn right, towards the agora (market square). On the way we pass by the remains of the St. Epiphanius Basilica. (IV century) Here, only parts of the columns have reached us (or have so far been excavated and restored), but you can even imagine how big the temple was. I think if you have enough imagination you can see the walls and the altar, and even the priest.)
Agora or market square. At the edges were columns, beyond which were the shops of merchants.
And the long square ended with the temple of Zeus (II century BC)
Here we found a snake and a skeleton of a bird. What does it mean?
Let’s go back to the fork and turn left now. We walk about 10 minutes and come to Campanopetra – an early Christian church on the very shore of the sea. There are well preserved walls, arches and marble floors.
In general, this part of Salamis, combined with the sound of the sea and the sunset, makes a great impression.)
Salamis is located in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, 6 km from Famagusta. To find it is not difficult at all, there are signs from the center of Famagusta and along the entire main road.
Have a nice trip!)