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Discover ancient Cyprus Apollo of the woodlands where Greek tragedy is live today!


Average Limassol temperatures during May have been hitting 25C and above with around 10 hours of sunshine every day. Between June and August the mercury will be up to 30C or more with 13 hours of daily sunshine. Even during the autumn and winter months, average temperatures never dip much below 14 – 15C.

As the eternal glowing jewel in the Mediterranean – where the sea water can gently simmer at a luxurious 20C – it’s no surprise that the name of Apollo, the mythic Greek god of sun and light, has long been used as a centre of worship on Cyprus. The ancient spiritual home of one of Greek mythology’s most important gods can also be a hot ticket for island visitors seeking luxury experience of the cultural kind and spiritual kind. Apollo was also god of knowledge, music, art, poetry, oracles, medicine, archery and prophecy.

Living evidence can still be glimpsed to stir the imagination

The Sanctuary of “Apollo” Hylates – covering 15,000 square metres – is situated 2.5 kms west of the ancient town of Kourion, and 24 kms (15 miles) west along the coast from Londa Beach Hotel. From the 8th century BC until the 3rd century AD, Hylates – whose name probably derives from the Greek word for “forest” – was worshipped as a god or “Apollo” of the Woodlands and protector of Ancient Kourion, which today is also known as the Curium Theatre.

Archaeological excavations have revealed many structures that once stood on the site, including a pilgrim hall and holy precinct. Today, living evidence can still be glimpsed to stir the imagination in the form of striking monuments such as, the well-preserved triumphant pillars of the main sanctuary building, the Nymphaeum and the Forum Baths dating from the Greco-Roman period (332 BC – 395 AD).

The Temple of Apollo Hylates was built on the ruins of an earlier temple in the 1st century A.D, and in a different architectural style. Traces of the temple survive in the foundations, along with a circular monument which was probably used in processions or ritual ceremonies held around a grove of sacred trees. On the approach to the temple, there are several buildings which include a priest’s house, where the tantalising remains of a mosaic can be seen, as well as a treasury building.

Sleeping quarters for worshippers to Apollo

During the Roman period the site was extended with the addition of the South and North Buildings, which may have been used for the display of votives – objects offered in fulfilment of a vow, such as a candle used as a vigil light – or for the accommodation of visitors. Terracotta figurines and pottery stored in the Temple from the 5th century B.C. to the Roman period were found buried in a special pit for the votive objects.

The South Building is split into five identical rooms, which may have been used as sleeping quarters for worshippers to Apollo while a second building, northwest of the Sanctuary has been identified as a possible display hall for gifts to the god. Along the external east side of the walls outside the main temple, are the Palaestra, where athletes once exercised and played games, as well as the bath houses, constructed circa A.D.101-102.

It was between 214 and 217 AD, during the period of Roman rule that the Kourion theatre was modified to stage gladiatorial games and wild animal sports but restored to its original form after 250 AD. An earthquake late in the 4th century (around 370 AD) led the theatre to be finally abandoned.

Mythic Apollonian principals promote culture in Cyprus

Fast forward 1,700 years to 1971 AD and the establishment of The Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC), the state theatre of Cyprus. Echoing the mythic Apollonian principals, its aims are to promote the dramatic arts and culture in Cyprus, and artistic relations throughout the world.

The theatre is to present the Greek tragedy “The Persians”, written by the Ancient Greek poet and writer, Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC). Despite writing around 70–90 plays, only six of his tragedies have survived intact. “The Persians” is the second and only surviving part of a lost trilogy, which won the first prize in a drama competition held at the Athens Dionysia Festival in 472 BCE. The play, with its theme of divine retribution, focuses upon the defeat of the Persian navy at Salamis during the invasion of Greece by Xerxes 1 in 480 BC, in which Aeschylus himself had fought, at Marathon in 490 BC.

The play, which will be performed in Greek will be staged at Curium Theatre, Episkopi, Limassol on Wednesday, June 6th and Thursday, June 7th, 2018.

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