The Kourion Amphitheatre can be found in a sprawling archaeological site which is best explored over the course of at least half a day. Home to countless treasures and cultural gems from antiquity, the archaeological site is now included within the cultural Paphos listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kourion itself was one of the most important of the ten city kingdoms of Cyprus during antiquity. Human inhabitation of the area is thought to date all the way back to the Neolithic Period, i.e. up to 5500 BCE. And the Kingdom of Kourion itself was probably established around 1000 BCE.
Built around the River Kouris along the Episkopi Bay, the city was largely destroyed and the population decimated by a severe earthquake in the 4th Century CE. In recent years, archaeologists have discovered the remains of several people who were buried under the rubble following the quake.
Kourion Amphitheatre: An Impressive Greco-Roman Theatre by the Sea
Overlooking the glittering Mediterranean Sea and founded in the 2nd Century BCE, today the acoustics of the Kourion Amphitheatre are said to be among the best of any external theatre in the world. Though built as a theatre, it’s thought that the location was also used for gladiator games at some point during its history.
Renovated and repaired at several points during its two millennia of history (including in the 1st Century CE), the reconstructed theatre now seats 2000, though the original would have seated closer to 3500. This number gives a great indication as to how large the Kingdom of Kourion once was. It’s estimated that an amphitheatre was constructed so as to hold around 25% of the kingdom’s population…
Located atop of the Acropolis (incidentally, the words ‘acro’ and ‘polis’ mean cliff city), and overlooking the azure blue sea, you’ll want to visit earlier in the day or offseason so as to get more of the place to yourself. During the summer (i.e. high season), crowds arrive on a regular basis, meaning that snapping photos of the place without people soon becomes nigh impossible.
How to visit Kourion Amphitheatre
For just a few euros, you too can step back in time and visit this cultural destination. Wandering through the theatre truly feels akin to stepping back in time and is well worth the effort during any visit to Cyprus. Elsewhere in the complex, there are mosaic floors to admire as well as other historical buildings. Another highlight close to the amphitheatre is the House of Eustolios, a former villa turned public recreation space.
All across the ancient site, information boards are on hand to help guide you through your visit. The majority of the theatre is wheelchair accessible and you’ll need to take bottled water when visiting (especially in the summer months when the weather can get close to unbearably hot).
It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes as some of the steps can be uneven in place. You’ll probably also want to bring a hat and pack plenty of sun cream! During the summer months, there’s even the possibility of watching a live theatre performance.
While on our visit, our guide, Mary, described a performance; the moon sits high above the water and is reflected on the waves crashing below. Performances include classical music concerts and Shakespearean plays. All in all, it sounds like a pretty magical experience!