For many years Great Britain has owned a few small pieces of land on the island of Cyprus, with some of her military being based there. The Sovereign Base Areas (SBA’s) house a few thousand soldiers and airmen, with some Navy types popping in from time to time.
Countless tens of thousands of British soldiers will have passed through Cyprus, participating in a four week training exercise, all of which culminate in heading to an amphitheatre for an end of tour photograph. The format is always the same, I think I have three of four of them in the loft and as soon as the photo is taken, everyone is back onto the trucks heading for the various fleshpots of the island.
What is unbeknown to almost all of them though, is that said amphitheatre is the jewel in a very large archeological crown, which, until last week, I didn’t even know existed.
It must be said though, that when I passed through Cyprus as a soldier on the same exercise, archeology interested me slightly less than the fleshpots did.
Several (many) years later I’m back on the island for a few days, staying with a friend and he explains about the site that I’ve visited previously, telling me there’s much more than just an amphitheatre, so off we go.
And he’s right. It’s akin to the Forum in Rome, not as big but
imagine Forum Lite and that’s what you have.
Mosaics abound, some complete
others in a slow and painful state of restoration.
Around 1000 years of history, from Hellenic up to modern Christian are laid out before the visitor, with said amphitheatre being the centre piece, but with many other buildings in restoration and others covered over to protect them as best can be done from the elements.
The site has shown it to be a full working city, with baths
as well as offices and residential housing.
The cold plunge pool of the baths area would have been beautiful once you’d stepped out and into the hot pool.
The views from the building worshipping Apollo weren’t too shabby either.
British soldiers continue to come to Cyprus and take part in the exercise, have their photo taken and then disappear off to the fleshpots with no knowledge of the treasure trove a few steps away from where they stand. It’s only when they’re old that they’ll see the beauty of the site though.