Έμβλημα της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας Τμήμα Αρχαιοτήτων

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The Looting of Cultural heritage in Occupied Cyprus




Soloi Theatre

Soloi theatre

    Herodotus mentions that the city of Soloi was founded on the advice of Solon the Athenian and hence the city was named in his honor. Soloi was one of Cyprus’ ancient city-kingdoms and in 498 B.C. it took part in the revolt against the Persians. Later on, Soloi sent help to Alexander the Great during his campaigns in the east. The city flourished during the Hellenistic, Roman and early Byzantine periods.

    The city of Soloi was located at the top of a hill overlooking one of the most fertile areas in northwestern Cyprus. A fertile valley with the river Potamos tou Kampou lies along the west side of the hill. In the eastern part of the coastal valley the Swedish Archaeological Expedition (1927) located the city’s natural port which was circular in plan. The city’s size has been estimated but apart from the ancient Theatre, no other architectural remains have been unearthed. The Soloi and Vounoi excavations were conducted from 1927 to 1931 by the Swedish Archaeological Mission. From 1965 until the invasion of 1974 the city of Soloi was excavated by the University of Laval, Quebec. Also, the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus has excavated several tombs in the area around Soloi.

    The Roman Theatre at Soloi was excavated in 1929 by the Swedish Archaeological Mission and it is dated to the 2nd or the 3rd century A.D. The Theatre was built on the north slope of the hill very close to the coast. The auditorium (which was partially visible at the highest point of the hill’s downward slope prior to the excavations) was cut into the hill’s rock. Between the years 1962-1964 the auditorium was entirely rebuilt. The auditorium is 52m in diameter and it had limestone seats. The semicircular orchestra was 17m in diameter and was separated from the auditorium by a low parapet of limestone slabs. Its floor was of cement resting on a substratum of pebbles. The stage was rectangular (36,15 X 13,20m) and only its platform survives today. Two entrance passages (parodoi) provided access to the auditorium.

    In 1931 the Swedish Mission discovered Cholades site (on a hill 250m away from the west gate of the ancient town’s designated walls), a large complex of five successive temples dated from 250 B.C. until the beginning of the 4th century A.D. Two of these temples were dedicated to Aphrodite Horeia, two to Isis and the fifth to Serapis (beginning of 4th century A.D.). During the period between 1965 and 1974 Laval University, Quebec, consistently excavated various points in the location known as ‘Palaia Chora’. In the northeastern part of the hill the mission discovered the remains of an early Christian basilica. The remains of a large paved space (possibly the city’s Roman agora) were also uncovered and at the lowest part of the hill’s north side the remains of various buildings, belonging to chronologically successive periods, were unearthed. On the hill’s acropolis monumental walls were excavated and at the necropolis (which is situated to the southeast of the city) 28 tombs were unearthed dating to the Cypro-Geometric up to the Late Classical period.

    Finally, in 1972 the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, excavated tombs in the necropolis of Soloi. All the tombs had an irregular circular shape with a rectangular dromos and they are cut into the rock. These excavations demonstrated that the necropolis of Soloi was in use between the early Geometric and the late Archaic periods.

Soloi: Basilica mosaic


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