Down through the centuries, Cyprus was a prized possession due to her copper deposits. As a source of copper during the Bronze Age, it’s easy to see why Salamis become a center of trade and an important asset. The Island’s location at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East only magnified this importance.
First, a bit of advise from someone who has visited the place a number of times:
- Wear comfortable shoes: you are going to walk a great distance
- Get the brochure: Some of the signs are difficult to read
- Don’t go on a high-humidity day: The sun can be brutal but there is a Sea breeze
- Bring a camera: You’ll want pictures!
- Have some Turkish Lira: After you walk awhile, you’ll be glad to have that cold drink
- The Toilets: Located behind the snack/trinket shop behind the Amphitheater
Most of the very best of Salamis is located near the entrance. If there are some in your party who cannot walk a great distance, don’t try. Once you’re out there, there are no short-cuts to walking all the way back. And besides, there are no standing buildings after the first couple hundred meters.
However, if you're up for it, there are two long paths that lead across the town site. The first is towards the Coast and the highlight is the Olive Oil factory site. But the better is towards the inland side. This is where the later town was located and there is more to see here.
We should define “more to see”: the only standing structure is the old Byzantine cistern. It’s big and obviously contained water for the entire town to make it through the Summer. It was constructed starting in about 627 AD and the water was piped-in from about 45 Km away.
There are a number of ruins that have yet to be excavated but they are quite easy to see. Large mounds of weeds with a jumble of stone sticking out. These are future projects to be undertaken as more of the town is unearthed.
With the above in mind, if you visit on a hot day or have only a passing interest in history, you may have a more pleasant afternoon by sticking to the main area not too far from the front gate.
By the way, you will need to buy tickets to get in. The office is located at the corner of the parking lot and you’ll need cash. It’s not expensive and there is a discount if you have North Cyprus ID. A group of five or six can enjoy an entire afternoon, drinks, snacks, and souvenirs included, for around twenty US dollars.
One area most visitors don’t get to see is the Royal Tombs. Thats because they are located across the highway, on the inland side. There is no path from Salamis leading there and you will have to get back in the car and drive there. To be honest, unless you’re a history buff, there is not a great deal to see.
The oldest tombs date from the eighth century BC and most are located below ground level. From the highway, all you can see are two large structures in the middle of a field. There is an entrance fee and a small museum. It’s an interesting addition to the town visit.
Indeed, if you want to see everything, it may be best to break the town into two visits. The town ruins proper are around one mile across and the tombs occupy a smaller, separate area.
The town was finally abandoned due to Arab raids and the fact the harbor became silted in. It was at this time the town was relocated to Famagusta, located a few kilometers to the South. The large harbor in Famagusta is still used today. Impressive walls & fortifications surround the old city. But thats a blog for another day.
You can find a number of interesting articles about the city online: Here's one that is not too dry. This article purposely doesn't get into the details of the cities history but instead tries to give you advise on how to visit.