Cyprus’ first underwater archaeological park opened to the public last week. Located near the ancient city of Amathus, the park showcases one of the eastern Mediterranean’s best preserved ancient harbors.
Though the origins of Amathus remain unclear, it is believed to have been settled by the Eteocyprians around 1100 BCE. At different times, the settlement was passed among the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Persians, the Ptolemies, and the Romans. During the Roman era, the ancient city became the capital of one of the four regions of Cyprus. Amathus became a seat of the Christian bishop after the 4th century CE.
Built onto the coastal cliffs at a natural harbor, the former naval base with combined commercial use was built between 312–11 BCE and 294 BCE. Since its decline, the harbor has developed into a thriving natural reef for marine life.
In August 2021, the island’s antiquities department announced the completion of the underwater site and mapping of the ancient port.
“It is one of the best-preserved ancient harbour structures in the eastern Mediterranean, and the only such site in Cyprus that has not been disturbed by contemporary uses,” according to the University of Cyprus’ Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory. The preserved architectural remains are in shallow waters close to the shore, making it easily accessible to the public.
The project was headed by the European Regional Development Fund program, ANDIKAT, which creates diving routes in marine-protected areas in Greece and Cyrus. It was co-funded by the European Union and with national resources from Greece and Cyprus.
Below is a look at the archaeological park.