Cyprus marks Int' Day for Monuments with free tours

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NICOSIA, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus marked the International Day for Monuments and Sites on Thursday by offering free guided tours to hundreds of tourists to its most important archaeological sites and museums.

The centerpiece of the tours was the ancient city of Paphos, which boasts exquisite Roman-era Mosaics, a Medieval Castle nearby and the impressive Tombs of the Kings, which were carved out of solid rock and dated back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, along with early Christian monuments, plus the Archaeological site of the Palaipaphos (old Paphos) at Kouklia, a few kilometers to the east.

Palaipaphos was for centuries the center of celebrations attended by people from countries in the Middle East in honor of love goddess Aphrodite, famed to have been born from the foams of the waves at the nearby sea shore.

The tours offered to visitors were a kind of compensation for the lack of sunshine they would normally expect at this time of the year. An unusually rainy winter extended for a month into spring time, bringing twice as much rain as in a normal year.

Reaner, a tourist from Germany, said he was in Cyprus for a 14-day holiday.

"We are here at these very very fine things of the Greek times, the Roman times, maybe two thousand years ago. It is very interesting and since this is a free day it is very good for us," he said at the Roman mosaics site.

The mosaics adorned the yards of Roman mansions of different eras between the second and fourth centuries CE.

The mosaics, considered to be the finest in eastern Mediterranean, are today known as the House of Dionysos, the House of Theseus, and Orpheus and Aion, named so after the scenes represented in each one.

"This museum is tremendous, it is wonderful, it is among the best museums I have ever seen. You can understand why it is a center for excellence. It is a UNESCO heritage site," said Hedley Walker from England.

"This is a celebration for Cypriot authorities for their museums, so the entrance is free," he said in appreciation of the tour.

The guided tours were offered to a total of 18 archaeological sites all over Cyprus.

"Today is International Day for Monuments and Sites so we have come over to Cyprus to have a look at the monuments and enjoy the free access. We have been to another church where there is Saint Paul's pillar, about half a mile away," said Richard Nixon from Norfolk, England.

A handout by the Cypriot authorities said this year's International Day for Monuments and Sites was devoted to rural landscapes to raise public awareness for their protection, while offering the opportunity for people to appreciate the Cypriot rural cultural landscape. Enditem

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