The Tombs of the Kings, a Unesco World Heritage Site, contains a set of well-preserved underground tombs and chambers used by residents of Nea Pafos during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Despite the name, the tombs were not actually used by royalty; they earned the title from their grand appearance.
Located 2km north of Kato Pafos, the tombs are unique in Cyprus, being heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian tradition, when it was believed that tombs for the dead should resemble houses for the living.
This ancient site offers a time capsule to an era centuries ago. While the title is something of a misnomer, the necropolis catered to the elite, not just royalty. The passing of time has worn away some of the splendor of the necropolis, with frescoes mostly absent.
However, a visitor can still appreciate the stunning beauty in which the elite of ancient Paphos chose to spend their eternity. While in Greece and Cyprus there are many examples of ancient architecture, a trip to Paphos and to the Tombs of the Kings provides a unique architectural experience as the design is more reminiscent of the Macedonian style.
The seven excavated tombs are scattered over a wide area; the most impressive is No 3, which has an open atrium below ground level, surrounded by columns. Other tombs have niches built into the walls where bodies were stored. Most of the tombs’ treasures have long since been spirited away by grave robbers.
Pafos Buses 615 route to Coral Bay stops right outside the entrance (€1.50, 5 minutes), departing roughly every 15 minutes from the Harbour Bus Station.
A visit to the Tombs of the Kings is a must-see for any history buff. The site is an important archaeological site, only recently excavated in the last few decades to the full extent that visitors can see today.
The construction of the site provides insight into the lives of those who chose to be buried there during the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C. Carved directly out of the rock; the underground and open-air tombs serve as an everlasting reminder of what the people entombed there found significant in their final resting place.
Doric columns and pillars iconic to the Hellenic period can still be seen in the remnants of the crypts.
The park that surrounds the Tombs is full of many significant historical sites. A full day can be spent here examining the various ruins of the ancient Cypriots.
For many, the Tombs of the Kings is solely an intriguing historical site, but at one time it would have been an active site that was the final resting place for loved ones. This concept transcends time, and visiting the necropolis continues the remembrance of those who passed before.
The architecture, beauty, and solemnity of the site deserve a visit by anyone interested in the history of Cyprus.