Today was full of visiting and learning about important historical sites. We started at the archeological site of Kourion, where the Greeks built baths and an amphitheater. The engineering of these ancient people really stood out to me as impressive. There were different areas in the baths that were for cool, warm, and hot water, and the pipes they used to transport water were still partially intact and visible. The amphitheater also had a spot center stage that a person could stand at to be heard perfectly from all seats. It is hard to conceptualize how advanced they would have to have been in order to make these feats of engineering possible with the minimal resources they had at the time. I found it fascinating that any part of these structures remained intact after such a long time as well.
We then visited (and climbed!) Aphrodite’s Rock, which is named for the fact it is thought to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. I thought it was interesting, and quite different from the US, that the historical site was not blocked off from or monetized for climbing purposes. We also visited and explored the Tomb of the Kings and the Paphos Mosaics. The scope of these creations were both incredible: the tombs were each carved (not built) from single rocks and the mosaics managed to show intricate, three-dimensional images using naturally-colored stones. In these moments, I could not help but feel like the United States history commonly taught is so young by comparison to that of Europe. Our perspective of “old” is therefore much narrower in general, but I think that is what makes the trips to these sorts of places that much more awe-inspiring.
When we were left to ourselves for free time, we took the opportunity to swim in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time! The water was definitely chilly, but we had an awesome time swimming out to the rocks on the edge of the bay (also something that would be generally blocked off in the US). Even though it was early evening, the beach was much less crowded than the beaches I have experienced in the United States. With that, I am excited for some more beach time tomorrow!