With Cyprus home to countless historic sites and tales from days gone by coming to life around just about every corner imaginable, next time you’re exploring Limassol, be sure to take in the grandeur of the island’s past with a quick visit to the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.
Just off the Limassol to Paphos seafront road along the cliff that cradles the impressive and well known Curium, this sanctuary set against the deep blue of the nearby seafront, was built around 100 AD, honouring Apollo Hylates (Apollo of the woods or ‘God of the Woodland’) who was the protector of Curium.
Once a very important religious site, it is thought Apollo Hylates was worshiped at the site from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. In the days when the cult of the god still flourished, anyone who defiled the inner sanctum was promptly thrown off the nearby cliff – a fall of around 100 metres.
While the area has suffered from devastating earthquakes in times past, the sanctuary was extended and altered on a number of occasions. In the very beginning, the site consisted of temple, a circular monument, and a formalized Archaic Altar and Precinct. Things changed a little during the Roman Period with a slight extension, while terracotta figurines and pottery gathered on the site were buried in a pit.
Head here today and most of what you’ll spot belongs to the site’s 1st century AD restorations. You’ll catch a glimpse of the partially restored temple, pilgrim halls, baths, holy precinct and ‘palaistra’ where athletes exercised and played games. And be sure to have your cameras at the ready- this really is the perfect place for picture postcard shots!
Where? Limassol district, 3 km west of Curium Archaeological Site. Tel: (+357) 99-630238