Those who were going to be baptised were immersed in the water and then led to one of the inner chambers where they were dressed in fine new garments, and then led in procession to the basilica. The basilica was destroyed during the Arab raids of the 7th century. The Roman forum was situated in the middle of the town of Curium and was a popular meeting place.
The House of Eustolios
This house is situated next to the Curium theatre and it is believed that it once consisted of as many as thirty rooms when it was originally built in the 7th century. Amongst its treasures are the most marvellous mosaics many of them depicting birds and fish and its most famous mosaic - a circular one depicting a woman with the word CTCIS. These houses are surprisingly like many traditional Cypriot homes even with shaded courtyard. Interestingly, amongst the items unearthed have been traces of wheat -indicating bread making and bronze cooking pots and importantly, bobbins -yet lace making was previously not known until 15th century
The highest rooms were bathrooms and these had both hot and cold water and were for recreational use. The floors of the baths covered in fine mosaics that are mainly geometrical birds and fish and the borders contain optical illusions. The bust of Ktisis [the creator of building] holding in her hand a metal tool the exact measurement of a Roman foot.
The House of the Gladiators
The House of the Gladiators earns its name from the mosaic depicting fighting gladiators and the House of Achilles on the northern side probably built in 2nd Century AD and was used as a public reception area for visiting dignitaries.
Wandering around the whole site is awe-inspiring to see the sophisticated drainage system which served the town also architecture early town planning.
The neocroplolis of Saint Ergomenis below the cliffs at Curium hosts many tombs including that of the saint. In recent years another tomb - probably that of a royal person- was discovered close to the chapel.
The Roman Stadium
Heading west from the main complex (in the direction of Paphos on the old cliff top road) stands the stadium of Curium, which was built in the second century AD Roman times and used for 200 years. The stadium used to accommodate 6,000 spectators and its dimensions measuring 217m by 17m correspond directly to the usual pattern for a Greco-Roman stadium. It is believed that ornate statues once decorated the sides and which sports the stadium was used for remains a mystery.
The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates
Apollo was the god of poetry and music, but was worshipped in Ancient Curium as Apollo Hylates - the god of the woodland (Hylates means this in ancient Greek). Apollo was also god of Curium. The sanctuary was in use from 7th century BC until 4th century AD and had five chambers for guests or offerings and there was a narrow paved street leading to the temple, with its four grand pillars. Most ceremonies took place in this open-air temple, which was reconstructed in 1979. It is said that those who were caught touching the sacred altar were thrown over the cliffs at Curium.
The Geeky stuff (indepth history)
Curium (Kourion) stands high on a cliff, 16 kilometres west of Limassol and the whole area is one of the islands most spectacular archaeological treasures. Curium was one of the Cypriot principal ancient kingdoms and was built in a conspicuous position on a hilltop some sixty metres above the shore and with three steep slopes so that the site was defensively strong. It is believed that the area was inhabited in the early Bronze Age (like nearby Sotira) and settlements along the River Kouris.
Local legend tells how the Greek seafarers from Agros in the Peloponnese founded Curium in 1200 BC. Curium developed into an important site, remaining so during both the Roman and Hellenistic periods, at its zenith had a population of about 30,000 people, and covered four square miles. By the 4th century AD, Curium had been destroyed by earthquakes and was later pillaged during the Arab raids, which initiated the move of the archbishop inland to Episkopi.
A series of excavations have taken place over the years and have revealed many treasures and that have led to a greater understanding of the role of the old city of Curium. The infamous General di Cesnola, the American Consul (1865-1876) obtained permission from the Sultan to carry out excavations at Curium and discovered a tremendous amount of treasure including silver ornaments, gold jewellery, gems and marble statues, many of which he sold and exported.
The tourist stuff
Curium is the perfect place to just wander and enjoy and the ancient theatre, which is at its best when there is silence so that you can hear the waves on the shore far below. The theatre on the south of the complex is its most famous part. It is a traditional Roman theatre that was originally built end at the end of the 2nd century AD, restored 100 years later and abandoned in 365 AD. A century ago, it was totally restored and can comfortably seat 3,500 spectators. The view from the theatre is breathtakingly beautiful with marvellous views over Episkopi bay, the Akrotiri headland and the Salt Lake. In the distance, the cranes of the docks can just be seen.
The theatre was originally used for performances of the popular Greek tragedies and comedies. Today, it is still in regular use during the summer months for a wide variety of events including Jazz and Classical music concerts and the annual Shakespeare at Curium performance. These contrast sharply with the Greek tragedies that are still performed there.
Other places of interest at Ancient Curium:
The Christian Basilica
The early Christian basilica dates back to 5th century AD and is one of the largest in Cyprus. It was probably built on the site of an old Pagan temple. The cathedral was used by the first bishops and today its beautiful granite pillars with their marble bases still reach up towards the blue sky above. Twelve columns once supported a canopy and the visitor can see the narthrex or vestibule with its hexagonal pool in the centre and this leads to the chapel where the faithful once proffered their offerings. The baptistry with the font built in the shape of a cross with a beautiful mosaic floor over which there was once a roof supported by six marble columns.