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Tombs of the Kings

If you have always fancied yourself as a veritable Lara Croft or Indiana Jones then the Tombs of the Kings is just the place to visit. Here you can rummage through the fascinating rock carved tombs, delve into dark spooky holes or wander through column filled underground courtyards. However, visitors should beware of sudden deep unfenced holes.

Although no royalty is known to be buried in the tombs, the grandness and scale of these structures gives the impression they were designed as such. The site lies on a headland, with good views across the coast below. There are eight main chambers and over 100 individual tombs on the site, many of which were originally highly ornate. The main chambers were cut out of the rock and built around a courtyard with Doric fluted columns. Originally the tombs were covered with stucco plaster and the walls decorated with frescoes but sadly today this colourful decor has all but eroded away. The most impressive tombs (3, 4, 5 and 8) are situated in the centre of the site, where it is possible to descend the rock cut steps to enter each one.

The tombs, which date from about the 3rd century BC, were continuously in use as a burial ground during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Later the area was used as a place of refuge by early Christians in times of persecution, when one of the tombs was turned into a chapel. During medieval times some of the underground chambers were occupied as dwellings. The inhabitants lived mainly in the larger tombs, making alterations to the original architecture. Some were used as work places (pottery was known to be made in Tomb 3). The site was systematically looted at the end of the 19th century, before excavations began in 1915. Investigations continue today under the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

Location: 2 km northwest of Paphos harbour towards Coral Bay. Bus Route 15 from Paphos

Opens daily (during daylight hours). Small admission charge.

There are no refreshment facilities on the site but a number of tavernas are located opposite the site entrance, next to the bus stop.

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