In April 2017 we had a 4-day long weekend in Cyprus to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. We flew in to Larnaca, hired a car and drove to our resort hotel outside Limassol. Cyprus is a relatively small island with an excellent road system. It is also blessed with a rich history, birthplace of Aphrodite, George Michael and Cat Stephens. It is situated between three continents, between West and East, Christian and Muslim, and has a balmy climate. We had a great time exploring some of the ancient and recent history, though we feel we barely scratched the surface of what there is to experience here.
Amathus Beach Hotel
Our hotel was in a great location – beautiful view, right on the water – and was very luxurious. We could have spent the whole weekend here if we wanted to, lazing by the pool and being pampered. We did enjoy an evening cocktail or two. It had been recommended by friends and was an excellent choice. The hotel is near the town of Limassol which is centrally located on the south coast of Cyprus, so that each day we had no more than an hour of driving to get to our destination for the day’s adventures.
We arrived at our hotel on the Friday afternoon, and after settling in we decided to take a stroll along the shoreline. We found ourselves at Amathus beach, and discovered a delightful boardwalk. The blue water glistening in the sun and the waves gently lapping the shore made for a very picturesque and tranquil afternoon stroll. There were views of Limassol along the coast in one direction, and Governor’s Beach resorts in the other. We discovered a tunnel leading under the main road, and saw some signs leading to something called Ancient Amathus, so decided to investigate. We were very surprised at what we found a short walk down the path.
Amathous is one of the great sites dedicated to Aphrodite where the remains of sanctuaries and temples of the goddess can still be seen. It was amazing to be freely wandering its ruins and immersing ourselves in so much history. The Cypriot Goddess (an early precursor to Aphrodite) was worshiped on the acropolis of the city as early as 11th century BCE. Traces of a sanctuary dating to the 8th century BCE have been found, as well as two colossal stone vases of the 6th-5th century BCE, and a cave used for religious practices. An earthquake destroyed Amathous in 77 CE. What we see now are the remains of the temple to Aphrodite built in the 1st century CE on the site of the previous temples. Next to the ruins of the temple are the remains of a Christian Basilica erected in the 7th century CE. The city was destroyed by Arab raids in the late 7th century CE and abandoned.