Valley of the Kings is without question one of the most historically significant archaeological sites in the world. For roughly 200 years, archaeologists have been exploring the site, and during this time they have discovered 65 ancient tombs, with the latest discovery being made in 2008. The valley is essentially a royal necropolis that was used by the rulers of Egypt for a period of 500 years.
Being a “royal necropolis” the area was reserved for the burial of Egypt’s New Kingdom pharaohs and a few lesser nobles. However, not all the tombs were actually used for burial purposes. Instead, several of them simply remained vacant.
The Valley of the Kings is one of Egypt’s biggest tourist attractions, with an average of around 5,000 people visiting the site each day. On days when Nile River cruise ships dock in Luxor, the number of tourists can climb to as many as 9,000. It is without doubt one of the most fascinating places in all of Egypt.
Luxor Temple is one of six ancient temples found in the vicinity of Luxor. It was built by Amenophis III for worshipping the gods Amun, Chons and Mut.
The Temple of Luxor is placed firmly on the tourist trail in Egypt, attracting many thousands of visitors each year. It is one of six ancient temples in and around the city of Luxor in Upper Egypt, in the area that was once home to the ancient city of Thebes. The temple was initially built for religious rites to the gods Amun, Chons and Mut.
One of the most awe-inspiring features at Luxor Temple is it imposing colonnade comprising a total of 14 columns that are topped with papyrus shaped capitals. Each column is roughly 23 meters high, with a circumference of around 10 meters. Both sides on the colonnade are enclosed with masonry walls that are covered with reliefs showing scenes relating to the festival of Opet. The colonnade, along with the decorated walls was completed during the reign of King Tutankhamun and King Horemheb.
Karnak Temple is actually a vast temple city, with many of its structures dating back 4,000 years. It is today the largest remaining religious site of the ancient world, and it is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Because of its immense popularity, it is featured in many Egypt vacation packages, including many Nile cruise holidays.
The temple complex is conveniently located near to the modern-day town of El-Karnak, just 2.5 km from Luxor. The site is massive, to the point where some people feel it’s necessary to spend at least one full day exploring the area. It’s also a good idea to have a guide with you when you visit.
As with so many things at Karnak Temple complex, the hypostyle hall is massive, covering an area of 54,000 square feet, and home to no less than 134 huge columns measuring 23 meters in height. It is only when you actually stand inside the hall amongst its forest of columns that you truly get to appreciate just how wealth the New Kingdom had and to what extend Amun was revered.
Queen Hatshepsut Temple is a mortuary temple located near the Valley of the Kings, and it is today considered to be one of the great wonders of Ancient Egypt.
Hatshepsut Temple is without question one of the most striking ancient attractions in all of Egypt. In fact, it is one of only a handful of Egyptian attractions that are considered to be “incomparable monuments of Egypt” and many historians also refer to it as being one of the Wonders of Ancient Egypt.
Visitors to Luxor in upper Egypt will find this magnificent temple located below the rocky cliffs at Deir El Bahari, just a short distance away from the infamous Valley of the Kings, on the Luxor West Bank of the Nile River. From the moment the temple comes into view, it becomes very obvious that Queen Hatshepsut, an 18th dynasty pharaoh, wanted a temple that was well and truly fit for a queen.
The Luxor Museum is nowhere near as big as the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but it was never meant to be, choosing instead to display quality rather than quantity.
The Museum of Luxor is located more or less right in the centre of Luxor, overlooking the Luxor west bank of the Nile River. Visitors who intend to visit the museum in shouldn’t expect to see anything along the lines of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo because the two places are quite literally worlds apart.
While the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo is host to the world’s largest collection of Egyptian antiquities, Luxor Museum only has a relatively small collection, but it’s definitely worth visiting. When the museum was originally opened in 1975 there were no plans to house a massive collection of artefacts. Instead, the museum has a sort of “quality before quantity” policy.
Philae is dedicated to Isis - the Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility. As a symbolic mother of the king, she appears as a woman with a throne-shaped crown or sometimes depicted with the sign of motherhood and fertility: the two horns and the solar disc between them. Her cult spread over Europe since the Greco-Roman period.
The cult of Isis at Philae goes back to the 7th century BC, but the earliest remains date from the 4th century BC.
And Isis was being worshipped at Philae until the 6th century AD!
By Roman times Isis had become the greatest of all the Egyptian gods, worshipped right across the Roman Empire even as far as Britain.
Walk along an imposing stone causeway that leads from the banks of the lake to the first pylon of the temple, pass a colonnaded court and into the eight columned hypostyle hall. Note the hieroglyphs and the reliefs of Greek pharaohs paying homage to Ancient Egyptian deities. Look for Mandulis, the god clad in the vulture feathered cloak. Built during the late Ptolemaic period and completed during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, the Temple of Kalabsha was dedicated to the Nubian god called Mandulis.
Built as a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser (or Zoser), the Djoser Pyramid was constructed between 2630 BC and 2611 BC in Saqqara, Egypt. Although it is considered the world’s oldest intact large-scale stone monument, the ancient structure is often overshadowed by Egypt’s most famous pyramids.
The Djoser Pyramid stands 197 feet high and was built using 11.6 million cubic feet of stone and clay. Imhotep—a doctor, priest, and sculptor, among other titles and talents—is widely attributed as the pyramid’s architect. Initially, the structure was designed as a traditional, flat-roofed tomb called a mastaba, but Djoser wanted something bigger, something grander.
The pyramid was part of a larger 40-acre complex containing a courtyard, temples, and chapels, all enclosed inside a 30-foot wall. The entrance to the complex, as well as 13 fake doors, is built into the wall. The complex also includes a number of building facades, all of which served ritual purposes.
The pharaoh’s burial chambers are located deep within the pyramid, along with those of his 11 daughters. The burial chamber is part of the pyramid’s winding, maze-like series of tunnels, which researchers think may have been designed to prevent theft (although the pyramid was eventually looted).
It’s become something of a cliché – a sad one at that – but we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s much more to Egypt than Ancient Egyptian antiquities. Granted, the Zabaleen area of Mokattam receives its fare share of attention for its sheer uniqueness, but one particular feature often goes unnoticed – St. Samaan Church.
The church is named after Samaan Al Kharaz (Simon the Ranner), who, according to the tradition, performed a miracle in moving the mountain to help Abraam – Pope of the Egyptian Church – prove his faith to a Jewish grand vizier. The areas of the mountain around the church also feature a number of carvings. These carvings were done by a Polish artist in 1995 and was commissioned by the church’s founder, Samaan Ibrahim. In addition to the church itself – which can seat up to 1000 people – the monastery also include a library, children’s playground and a cafeteria.
Located on Rhoda Island in Cairo’s Manial district, the Prince Mohammed Ali Palace is unlike any historical site in the capital. Built by the uncle of King Farouk, Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik, between 1899 and 1929, what makes the palace stand out – even next to anything you’ll find in Old Cairo, which sits a stone’s throw away across a branch of the Nile – is its unique fusion of Ottoman, Persian, art nouveau and late baroque inspirations.
Divided into five distinctly conceived and designed buildings which sit in the middle of a stunning Persian garden, the palace was as much a home to Mohammed Ali’s grand collection of art, furniture, clothing and medieval manuscripts as it was for him. Lending itself to a museum blueprint, the palace was handed over to the Supreme Council of Antiquities – a former branch of the Ministry of Culture – in 1955 and quickly became one of the most striking reminders of the Mohammed Ali dynasty. The palace is also home to one of the world’s most lavish collections of Oriental carpets and rugs, while the walls silk embroideries and portraits of royals.
As familiar and known a sight as that of the Giza Pyramids, the medieval Citadel sits conspicuously over the haze of Cairo’s minarets, with the Mohammed Ali mosque glimmering like a beacon to all travellers, visitors and Cairenes alike. The gentle breeze from the hilltop location brings to mind a legend about Saladin, the builder of this medieval fortress in the 12th century. In the search to build a proper fortress against the Crusaders, he hung pieces of meat throughout Cairo and swore that wherever the meat stayed fresh the longest would become the location of his fortress. All the meat he placed was ruined in a day except for the meat hung on a hilltop near Cairo, where the fresh breeze kept the meat fresh for days. Who knows? Maybe he built the Citadel on a hill because in his native mountainous Syria most fortresses were built in strategic high locations, or maybe fresh meat was a big deal to Saladin.
The Citadel is a popular destination for tour groups and local school field trips. While most tourists are taken to the Hagia Sophia inspired Mohammed Ali mosque, they might miss the great sites that lie nearby, marking massacres, harem palaces, spiral wells, royal court drama, crime, and ancient Egyptian ruins.
Even Cairo, a bustling capital city of 21 million or so people, has its secrets and obscurities, not least the City of the Dead. Located below Mokattam Hills in the south east of the city, the area is essentially a necropolis; but over the centuries it has evolved into a living, breathing organism of its own that has managed to reach a certain degree of self-sufficiency. Though considered a slum – and it’d be hard to argue that – it also stands as one monument to Cairo’s colourful history.
Running along the city from north to south, the strip is around 6.4km long.
The City of the Dead dates back to the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, when Amr Ibn Al ‘as established a family graveyard at the foot of Mokattam. Many of the residents are said to have moved there to be close to deceased relatives.
It has been something of a touristic site for centuries, with the likes of Moroccan scholar, Ibn Batuta –widely considered to be one of the greatest travelers in history – having visited and written about it.
Mada’en Saleh, also known as Al Hijr, is a series sandstone outcrop of various sizes and heights surrounded by a ring sand mountains. It is a pre-Islamic archaeological site located in the Al-Ula sector, within the Al Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia.
You will witness the true meaning of solidity in the formation and foundation of this railway, which tells the tales and adventures it has experienced. The establishment of the Hijaz railroad was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan.
It is the first museum specialized in the history and urban and the built heritage of Al Madinah. The museum showcases the Islamic heritage and culture, as well as the city’s magnificent and substantial history since the Prophet’s first arrival in Al Madinah to the present day.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is Israel’s largest cultural institution and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem was extensively extended and refurbished reopening in 2010. The focus of the museum is on the art, Judaica and ancient artifacts of the Land of Israel and beyond, featuring the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. The museum has a collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing a full scope of world material culture.
While there is loads to see at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, there are a number of stand-out highlights. The Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls which are some of the oldest Biblical scrolls ever found. Adjacent to this is an amazing model of Second Temple Era Jerusalem which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE.
The Ramparts Walk in the Old City of Jerusalem is a gem hidden from locals and tourists alike. Hard to find, the Ramparts Walk is one of the most rewarding activities in terms of history, beauty and a greater sense of the Old City as a whole. Reasonably priced, the Ramparts Walk makes a great trip combined with the other activities and sites found in and around the Old City.
The Ramparts Walk is divided into two separate walks, totally just under two miles: the north side walk and the south side walk. Both are included in the admission ticket and both have their differences. The north side walk is the longer of the two and covers a far greater area, from the Jaffa Gate (on the west side of the Old City) to the Lions Gate (on the east side, approaching the Dome of the Rock). The south side walk is shorter but ends at a more convenient location, the Western Wall (or Kotel as it is known in Hebrew). The south side walk begins at the Tower of David (on the west side of the Old City, beside the Jaffa Gate) and continues around to the south side of the city, ending off between the Zion and Dung Gates.
The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem is located in the restored ancient Citadel of the Old City near the Jaffa Gate, the historic main entrance to the city. The museum tells the long and fascinating history of Jerusalem starting from the second millennium BCE and ending with the modern city you see today.
The museum’s facade, The Citadel is itself, a fascinating archaeological site, and provides some of the best 360-degree views across the Old City and Modern City available, and comes to life at night with the Tower of David Night Spectacular. As well as its fascinating permanent displays, the museum regularly hosts changing exhibitions as well as lectures, special cultural events and educational programs.
The Tower of David Night Spectacular is an incredible sound and light show, the only one of its kind in the world, in which the walls of The Citadel and Old City are brought to life using amazing audio-visual technologies to provide the story of Jerusalem in a unique experience.
The Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall”, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, it is the western support wall of the Temple Mount. Thousands of people journey to the wall every year to visit and recite prayers. These prayers are either spoken or written down and placed in the cracks of the wall. The wall is divided into two sections, one area for males and the other for females. It is one of the major highlights in any tour of the Old City.
The site is open to all people and is the location of various ceremonies, such as military inductions and bar mitzvahs. The Western Wall is free and is open all day, year-round. Women and men should be dressed modestly in the Western Wall Plaza. To pray at the wall, women should have their legs and shoulders covered. Men should cover their head.
The Temple Mount, a massive masonry platform occupying the south-east corner of Jerusalem’s Old City, has hallowed connections for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
All three of these Abrahamic faiths regard it as the location of Mount Moriah, where Abraham prepared to offer his son Isaac (or Ishmael in the Muslim tradition) to God.
For Jews, it is where their Temple once stood, housing the Ark of the Covenant. Now, for fear of stepping on the site of the Holy of Holies, orthodox Jews do not ascend to the Temple Mount. Instead, they worship at its Western Wall while they hope for a rebuilt Temple to rise with the coming of their long-awaited Messiah.
For Christians, the Temple featured prominently in the life of Jesus. Here he was presented as a baby. Here as a 12-year-old he was found among the teachers after the annual Passover pilgrimage.
For Muslims, the Temple Mount is al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). It is Islam’s third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina, and the whole area is regarded as a mosque.
Musrara is a unique neighborhood in Jerusalem, a fascinating microcosm of the city’s history and its various population groups. Walking through the streets, you’ll notice that every house is built differently, and houses have been joined, expanded, cut up and renewed throughout the years of its turbulent history. The municipality has tried to change the name of the neighborhood to Morasha, and you’ll see this name on official maps, but Jerusalem residents proudly continue to use its old name.
In recent years, a number of artists have moved to the neighborhood, and three art schools have opened up: a religious film school called Maaleh; Musrara, an edgy photography, animation and sound school; and the School for Oriental Music, which occasionally has open concerts in the evenings, and is lovely to walk past as the musicians practice during the day. These last two are both on Ayin Het street, and there is another gallery next to them. An artists’ collective called Muslala has sprung up, and they engage in artwork in the public domain, involving longtime local residents and social activists from East and West Jerusalem.
Neve Tzedek may well be one of Tel Aviv’s oldest districts, but it’s still young at heart! Newe Tzedek or Neve Tsedek, as it is also known is another district of Tel Aviv which has become increasingly fashionable in recent years, as restoration works have taken place to restore it to its former glory. Built in 1887, Neve Tzedek was the first Jewish neighbourhood outside of the old port city of Jaffa, built as a suburb. Its Oriental architectural style, combined with quaint, narrow streets with boutiques, make Neve Tzedek, which means Oasis of Justice, quite literally an oasis in the modern city.
Neve Tzedek is today a real oasis in the bustling city of Tel Aviv. The magnificent buildings are all individual, and a relaxing stroll through the neighbourhood is a great way to spend some time. Shabazi Street is the main street through Neve Tzedek and, like many of the smaller side passages is lined with boutiques, galleries, and craft shops. The Suzanne Dellal Center is Tel Aviv’s dance centre with a superb piazza and interesting gardens, whilst popular cafe Suzanna shouldn’t be missed.
The Habima Theater has been Israel’s National Theater since 1935. It was originally the conception of organizers Hannah Rubina and Aaron Baskin, who brought with them from Moscow to Tel Aviv the idea of promoting a unique Hebrew-language theatre and local actors.
In keeping with its original purpose, the Habima Theater hosts live theatre, unique events and seminars.
Plays chosen at the Habima Theater most often deal with issues important to the State of Israel and its diverse mixture of population. Recurring themes include tensions between Arab and Jewish Israelis, religious and secular Jews, new immigrants and native-born Israelis, and Holocaust memoirs, government corruption or the issue of foreign workers.
In order to reach out to all audiences, the Habima Theater also features classic international plays and organizes acting workshops and activities for Israeli youth. Simultaneous translation is available for most live performances. Additionally, the Habima Theater is a member of the Union of the Theatres of Europe and is often invited to join in world tours as a result of this prestigious membership.
The original Habima Theater building, which is located at the end of Rothschild Boulevard, has been renovated and was recently inaugurated in the art complex next to the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art and the Mann Auditorium, home of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
Azrieli Center is a complex comprised of three distinct skyscrapers one circlular, one triangular and one square in the center of Tel Aviv. Named after the founder, Architect David Azrieli.
T he Circular Tower is the second tallest building in Israel. It was completed in 1999 and has 49 floors. The building’s top floor boasts a restaurant, as well as an observation deck with a clear view of the entire city. The Triangular Tower was finished in 1999 and has 46 floors. With 42 floors, including the thirteen-floor Crowne Plaza City Center Hotel, the Square Tower was the last to be completed in 2007. Many of Israel’s most prominent companies are based in or around the Azrieli Center.
At the base of the three office buildings lies one of Israel’s largest shopping malls. The Azrieli Center Mall boasts over 30 fast food and high-quality restaurants and cafes. The shopping opportunities include branches all of Israel’s finest stores, as well as flagship international brand names like H&M, Gap and Mango. The Azrieli Center Mall also houses a fitness center, grocery store, educational learning centers and a rooftop Gymboree.
The Azrieli Center is located on the corner of Begin and Hashalom Streets. It is just a minute from the Hashalom entrance to Ayalon Highway. It is connected by bridge to the Tel Aviv Hashalom Train Station. A bridge in the opposite direction also connects the mall to Hakirya, the Tel Aviv branch of the IDF military intelligence unit.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art houses one of the world’s largest collections of Israeli art. The collection represents the work of some of the leading Jewish artists of the first half of the 20th century and many of the major movements of modern art of this time.
The modern and contemporary art museum is a part of the Golda Meir Cultural and Art Center complex, also featuring the Israeli Opera and Cameri Theater. The permanent and temporary exhibitions shown at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art display work by Israeli artists, as well as many infamous international painters. The museum is also home to an art library and archive serving art students and professionals throughout Israel. The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Art Education Center provides classes in a variety of fields to adults and children. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art offers a space to showcase young Israeli talent. The Herta and Paul Amir Building houses an Israeli Architecture Archive and a new section of photography and visual arts.
Over 500,000 guests visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art each year, to enjoy its wide variety of painting, photography, video, sculpture, as well as to participate in the many events held within the museum building.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is open daily from 10 am. The museum closes at 4 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 8 pm on Tuesday and Thursday, and 2 pm on Friday. The museum is closed on Sunday. Museum admission is 42 shekels for adult visitors and free for children up to age 18.
The Madatech National Science, Technology and Space Museum in Haifa, is a large museum crammed with hands-on activities that will please both adults and children. Not far from the Bahai Gardens, in the Hadar neighbourhood of Haifa, the museum is housed in the large edifice which is the old Technion building. The Madatech building was built in the early 1910s, visited by Albert Einstein in 1923 and then made into a museum in 1984. Today the museum hosts some 200,000 visitors annually, many of them children on school trips.
The Madatech National Science, Technology and Space Museum can be broken up into five parts for mapping out. The ground floor of the main building contains the front desk, a café, a children’s play area, a gift store and several exhibits such as the history of the printing press and The Road to Safety Exhibition. In the Road to Safety Exhibition children and adults can sit side-by-side on crash simulator, operated only by a museum guide, which proves the need for seatbelts while driving. Be prepared, the crash is quite a jolt! Continuing up a narrow staircase (elevators are also on-site), the first floor comes to view. On the first floor are exhibitions such as the Natural Science Room with over 100 stuffed animals and birds all found in the Haifa area including eagles, mongooses and jungle cats. Other exhibitions include Puzzles & Games, Green Energy and Acoustics & Waves, all going into depths with hands-on displays and tools for everybody to benefit from. In the Green Energy exhibition children can learn about combustion, solar power and light power, many of the displays featuring little lights that illuminate with the power generated at the display. Children can also race sailboats on a table with fans, mapping out wind currents with guided lines on the table. Also on the first floor is the Einstein Hall where an exhibition was made in honour of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first and only astronaut. Included in the exhibit are some of his personal belongings found at the crash site of the Columbia space shuttle that tragically crashed on descent over Texas.
Haifa’s German Colony is probably the culture and tourism centre of this beautiful city. Located just beneath the Bahai Gardens, Haifa’s largest tourist attraction, the German Colony has been beautifully restored in recent years and is now lined with trendy cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. A visit to Haifa is not complete without exploring the German Colony, and those who do visit take away great memories. A visit is definitely one of THE things to do in Haifa.
The German Colony of Haifa is a small area located at the foot of the Baha’i Gardens and reaching the Port of Haifa. It was founded in the late 1860s by German Templars (not to be confused with the Templar Knights of the Crusaders who also settled in Northern Israel) and throughout the two world wars in the early 21st century was inhabited on-and-off by the German Protestants who built the area up.
Today, Ben Gurion Avenue, the main road in the German Colony, is lined with distinct red-roofed cafés, restaurants and boutiques. Tourists flock to the German Colony for relaxation, culinary experiences and even the nightlife. In the German Colony, close to the port, is Haifa’s City Museum as well as the old City Center, a small mall. For those wishing to stay in the German Colony, the Colony Hotel Haifa can be found on Ben Gurion Avenue just minutes away from the Baha’i Gardens.
The Haifa City Museum is located in the Haifa’s German Colony, at the foot of the famous Baha’i Gardens. Celebrating Haifa’s rich cinematic past, the museum was created within an old Templar Community House originally built in 1869 and recently restored in 2000. Within the museum’s old walls visitors can be taken back to the the age of the silver screen and the years that followed. The Haifa City Museum can be enjoyed by anyone, from film buffs to wide-eyed toddlers with no understanding of the cinematic legends such as Clark Gable, Alfred Hitchcock and Marilyn Monroe.
With full blueprints of Haifa’s historical movie-houses, letters on official movie-house letterheads and even opening night invitations in “The Palaces of Haifa” exhibition, you too can be transported back to the time where glamour and fame cycled around the movie industry. A special curtained-off area of the museum’s first floor holds a screen and projector where you can sit and watch old film trailers and old Israeli pre-movie advertisements. Also on display are old film reels and a photo collection donated by a local resident featuring Hollywood’s stars of yesteryear such as Gregory Peck, James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. Largely featured in the Armon Theatre which was established in the Haifa’s Downtown area, not far from the German Colony, in the year 1935. The original theatre had 1800 seats and an electric removable roof for pleasant summer evenings. On opening night, the Armon Theatre showed “The Merry Widow”, an Oscar-winning musical comedy. The theatre met its demise with its closing in the late 80s and was eventually torn down.
One of the most beautiful and interesting for visiting amphitheatres is located in Kourion. It will amaze travellers with its majestic appearance, the beauty of the preserved antique mosaics and the magnificent panoramic view that opens from spectators’ seats.
The Limassol Castle is situated in the centre of old Limassol, is a remnant from the presence of Crusaders on the island. It was built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier Byzantine castle and has been converted today into the Cyprus Medieval Museum.
Limassol's historical centre is located around its medieval Limassol Castle and the Old Port. Today the city spreads along the Mediterranean coast and has extended much farther than the castle and port, with its suburbs stretching along the coast to Amathus.
Standing grandly at the west end of the town’s harbour, Pafos (Paphos) Castle (Medieval Fort) was originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour, and was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, but then dismantled by the Venetians. The Ottomans rebuilt it in the 16th century when they conquered the island. What survives today is the 1592 Ottoman restoration of the western Frankish tower with its Venetian additions. An inscription above the only entrance of the castle bears witness to this restoration.
The main part of the castle is a big square tower that has an enclosed courtyard in the middle. The ground floor consists of a central hall with small rooms on each of its two long sides, which were used as prison cells during Ottoman Rule. There are 12 battlements on the roof, which received a corresponding number of cannons. The Ottomans removed the cannons in 1878, when they handed over the administration of the island to the British, who used the castle as a salt store until 1935, when it was declared an Ancient Monument under the Antiquities Law.
As you eat or walk along the seafront, you will enjoy the view of the medieval castle that adorns the port of Pafos. Pafos Castle was originally a Byzantine fortress, built in 965 AD for the protection of the port. It was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1222 AD. The castle was rebuilt by the Lusignans around the end of the 12th century to replace the fort of "Forty Columns" for the defence of the island, especially during the Medieval Period (1192-1489). It was destroyed shortly before 1570 by the Venetians, to stop it from being used by the Ottoman Turks, whose invasion of Cyprus was expected. The Turks did indeed invade the island and restored the castle in 1592. They even strengthened it with new fortifications as stated in a Turkish inscription above the entrance. The ground floor consists of a central hall which opened to several small spaces. Under Turkish rule, these were used as prisons.
Pafos (Paphos) Castle served as a fortress, as a prison and also as a salt storage area during the period in which the island was a British colony. In 1935 it was declared an ancient monument.
The Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos (Paphos) is one of the most important archaeological sites of Cyprus and has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list since 1980.
Nicocles, the last King of Palaipafos moved the city from the previous location to its present location near the harbour at the end of the 4th century BC. Between the 2nd century BC and 4th century AD, Pafos was the capital city of Cyprus.
The Park includes sites and monuments from the 4th century BC to the Middle Ages, while most remains date to the Roman period. The intricate mosaic floors of four Roman villas (the houses of Dionysos, Theseus, Aion and Orpheus) form the impressive epicentre of the finds, and depict various scenes from Greek Mythology. The complex also includes other important monuments, such as the Asklepieion, the Odeon, the Agora, the Saranta Kolones (Forty Columns) Castle, the Limeniotissa ruins of an Early Christian Basilica, and the Tombs of the Kings.
Located in the village of Geroskipou, this interesting 9th century Byzantine church is a five-domed, three-aisled, barrel-vaulted basilica, making it one of only two such churches on the whole island, and a significant example of Byzantine architecture.
The beautiful interior wall paintings date to various periods, from the 8th-15th centuries. A monochrome reddish cross, painted directly on the stone, is of an earlier type and was revealed during restoration works. This type of cross is usually dated to the Early Christian period, up until the 8th-9th century.
Apart from its frescoes, the church also contains a rather significant portable, double-sided icon, dating to the 15th century. The Virgin Mary is depicted on one side, and the scene of the Crucifixion on the other.
According to tradition, the name Geroskipou (‘sacred garden’ in Greek) derives from the sacred gardens of the Goddess Aphrodite, which were located to the south of the village towards the sea, at the point where the ancient pilgrims began their journey to the sanctuary of Palaipafos (old Pafos). As such, the church may stand on the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Aphrodite, although it could also originally have been dedicated to Timios Stavros (the Holy Cross). Today, it is dedicated to the Christian martyr Agia Paraskevi.
The famous ‘Tombs of the Kings’ form part of the Archaeological Park of Kato Pafos (Paphos) - one of the most important archaeological sites of Cyprus that has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list since 1980. The monumental underground tombs are carved out of solid rock and date back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Rather than kings, it is actually high ranking officials and aristocracy that were buried here, but the size and splendour of the tombs – some decorated with Doric pillars - gave the locality its grand name.
Some of the tombs imitate the houses of the living, with the burial chambers opening onto a peristyle atrium. They are similar to tombs found in Alexandria, demonstrating the close relations between the two cities during the Hellenistic period.