Tombs of the King

On the outskirts of Paphos can be found the famous 'Tombs of the Kings', a necropolis intricately carved from the bedrock.

The Tombs of the Kings, a Unesco World Heritage site, is Pafos' main attraction. Two kilometres north of Kato Pafos, the site contains a set of well-preserved underground tombs and chambers used by residents of Nea Pafos from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Despite the name, the tombs were not actually used by royalty. Instead, they earned the title 'Tombs of the Kings' for their grand appearance and the Doric pillars that help support the structures. Members of the higher social classes were buried here.

The seven excavated tombs are scattered over a wide area and all are accessible to the public. The most impressive is No 3, recently restored, which has an open atrium below ground level, surrounded by impressive Doric columns. A wooden staircase has been added for easier entrance. Other tombs, accessible by stone stairways, have niches built into the walls where bodies were stored. Most of the tombs' treasures have long since been spirited away by grave robbers - notably the late-19th-century American consul of Larnaka, Luigi Palma de Cesnola.

The tombs are unique in Cyprus due to their peristyle court structure, which was influenced by Egyptian architecture. The ancient Egyptians believed that tombs for the dead should resemble houses for the living, and this tradition is reflected in the Pafos tombs.

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