Tomb of the Kings is a large necroplis (burial ground; city of the dead) northwest of Paphos in Cyprus. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underground tombs are ancient, dating back to the 4th century BCE (specifically, to the Hellenistic and early Roman periods), and are carved out of solid rock.
They owe their name to their size and splendour, not because any actual royalty were buried there. Some of the tombs imitate the houses of the living, with the rooms (here the burial chambers) opening onto a peristyle atrium (see above for example: it's a columned porch or open colonnade). They are similar to tombs found in Alexandria (Egypt), demonstrating the close relations between the two cities during the Hellenistic period.
I would like to point out that while the wee children were clambering among the millennium old ruins, I was on a treadmill, running. We made the trip to Cyprus in late October, so I was deep in training for the Marathon I ultimately ran in mid-December. In late October, I was meant to run something like 18 miles for my long run, so, you know, that takes some time. Particularly when I run at the speed of a snail on Quaaludes.
The weather was spectacular; mid 20sC, so warm enough to be out in shorts, but not uncomfortably hot. The site was systematically looted of artifacts long before excavations began in 1977, so there isn't a 'museum' to visit, but the tombs are open for tourists to crawl around. More formal archaeological Investigations continue today under the Cyprus Department of Antiquities
Key difference between Jeff and I when touring with the children: he had little flashlights for them to use. Nice touch.
The site is located right on the beach, and is quite a large area to tour. I haven't had any success in finding the exact size on line, but I would guess it's upward of 20 acres of carved tombs to explore (maybe Jeff, who actually visited the site can weigh in on this one).
And probably imagine looting. Why do they always end up armed??
And with that, we packed it up and headed back to winter.
Next: Some blog housekeeping