apparently, some cypriots are too polite to say the word "damn."
apparently, some cypriots are too polite to say the word “damn.”

dams are impressive pieces of architecture.  when i was in albania, i photographed the vau i dejës dam for a friend who was doing some architectural work for the electric company (including a few pictures with my 6×6 camera):

09232009_GB_Vau_i_Dejes_134 09232009_GB_Vau_i_Dejes_135 09232009_GB_Vau_i_Dejes_137

so here have the asprokremmos dam, an earthen dam built from 1978 to 1982. stones on the embankment, a huge concrete overflow reservoir, and a capacity of 51 million cubic meters of water …

20150313_cyprus_126 20150313_cyprus_157
20150313_cyprus_138 20150313_cyprus_136

… and below it all – in case the dang fails – a row of beehives to protect the buildings on the coast from the onslaught of water.


do you know the way to agia solomoni

we decided to visit the church and catacombs of agia solomoni, which was located relatively close to our hotel. agia solomoni (saint solomoni) was an early christian who took refuge in a cave to escape persecution by the romans. when the romans located her hiding place, they walled her up inside, condemning her to a long and painful death; however, when the cave was opened up 200 years later, she walked out alive. so the legend goes.

amazingly, there is not a wikipedia entry on this.

as is typical, there was a only a small sign pointing us toward the site, so we parked and trudged up a hill to the only structure we could see up there. it turned out to be some kind of shed, but there was a staircase cut through rock leading underground, so down we went. we were underwhelmed by what we found:

20150313_cyprus_082 20150313_cyprus_072 20150313_cyprus_079

sure, interesting, but a holy shrine? not so much, especially if the mattress and discarded beer cans were anything to judge it by.

we spied another way out and scrambled up, thinking maybe we somehow came in the wrong way, and we did find a nondescript chapel-like room further along the side of the hill, yet – curiouser and curiouser – the exit led onto someone’s junk-filled backyard.

20150313_cyprus_084 20150313_cyprus_096

20150313_cyprus_088 20150313_cyprus_090

“okay,” we decided, “this is just some inexplicably bad tourist attraction, like you read about in inexplicably bad tourist attractions magazine,” and we went back to the car. however, as we drove back onto the main road, we saw a chestnut tree with ribbons tied onto its branches for good luck, and a neat set of stairs leading downward, and we realized that this was the entry to the church and catacombs, and the other place we’d been exploring was just a dirty hole in the ground.

20150313_cyprus_115 20150313_cyprus_098 20150313_cyprus_113

cyprus 2: mosaics

the paphos archaeological park contains sites dating from the roman period up through the 13th century. most impressive (to me) were the mosaic floors from the roman villas.  this is the floor of the “house of aion,” 4th century b.c.  (aion is the god of time, who features in one of the center panels, and for whom the building is named.)
this scene shows the infant dionysos in hermes’ lap, about to be handed over to his teacher, tropheos.
this is a telling of the myth of apollo and marysas, in which marysas, who challenged apollo to a music contest and lost, is about to be flayed alive.
moral: don’t mess with the gods.
outside, and currently exposed to the elements, is this mosaic in the “house of theseus,” showing theseus killing the minotaur.
columns from the house of theseus.
other ruins. i think the green burlap fabric in the lower right, under the sand, is a cover for other mosaics which are not currently on display.
an ornamental mosaic floor.
since this site has been occupied by numerous invaders since the romans, there are more recent ruins, such as the castle of saranta kolones (forty columns), which was built by the lusignans around a.d. 1200. the lusignans were a royal house that originated in france and conquered much of europe and the levant for a time. (according to wikipedia, the mythological founder of the family is used as the logo for starbucks.) the castle was destroyed by an earthquake 20 years after it was completed.