Nestled on the east shore of Cyprus and accessible from Famagusta at 6 km, Salamis refers to an old city-state at the Pedieos River mouth. As per the known facts of this ancient city, Teucer who was Telamon’s son established Salamis after the Trojan War as he was not permitted to return home because of his failure to punish Ajax, his brother. The archaeological findings here are as old as from the 11th century BC. In its olden days, this city was a perfect harbor and served as a prime Cypriot means for operating with Egypt, Cilicia, and Phoenicia. After facing several reigns of Assyrians, Persians, and Arabs along with jolting earthquakes; Salamis was finally abandoned in the 7th century AD. Do not confuse this with the Salamis in Attica.
A majority of the present ruins today belong to the Roman period. However, the excavated public buildings are from the post-Classical era. Although it must have been built at the time of city’s set up, the temple of Zeus Salaminios is now in ruins, whose sect was formed by Teucer. There is something called as the ‘cultural centre’ that date back to the Roman period. Nestled in the north end, this centre is the home of a gymnasium, stadium, public baths, and amphitheatre and theatre. The relics are vast in the sense that the gym and theatre were restored extensively.
In the gymnasium’s middle court, a myriad of statues are seen of which a majority stands without the head. Some of the statues as well as columns seen here actually belong to the theater, which were shifted here in the 4th century. However, the Augustus statue was placed here. Built during the reign of Augustus, the theatre was so big that it can accommodate some 15,000 spectators.
Among the other structures, you will come across public latrines that can hold 44 people at a time, baths, a wall of the harbor, many pieces of a mosaic, and a roman and Hellenistic agora. Salamis today is also the home of the Byzantine relics such as the Bishop Epiphanos’s basilica of the late 4th century AD, which was the metropolitan church in whose southern apse; St. Epiphanios was cremated. Herein, there is also a baptistery wherein the hypocausts used to heat it. After being damaged in the 7th century, a small edifice was built on its place in the south. An aqueduct of Kyrhea supplied water that was gathered in a big cistern that is seen close to the Agora.
The Salamis necropolis is in the town’s west holding a museum of the findings. Among the burials that are between the geometric and Hellenistic eras, the famous ones are the Royal-Tombs that held rich gifts such as the imported items of Egypt as well as Syria and chariots. One of these is of a Greek princess who was the wife of a royal member and contained large quantities of Greek Geometric pottery as dowry.
Originally a small site around the harbor, Salamis stretched towards the west that is now layered by the forest. The cemetery is also big starting from the forest’s western rim to the Monastery of St. Barnabas in west to the Ayios Serghios village in the north and until the Enkomi hamlet in south. Here, there are crypts of the 9th century BC until the Christian era. The most ancient tombs are close to the early town’s limits in the forest. Do also visit the St. Barnabas monastery where you can marvel at the vital archaeological artifacts. In addition, taking a tour of the District Archaeological Museum is worth as it houses the gymnasium’s and theater’s marble statues, Enkomi’s jewelry, and Mycenaean pottery along with additional archaeological heritage items.