The House of Eustolios – A Villa dedicated to Christ

External view of the House of Eustolios

“This House in place of its ancient armament of strong walls, solid iron, gleaming bronze and even adamant, has now girt itself with the much venerated symbols of Christ.”

Eustolios dedicated the entire multi-functional structure to Christ by decorating it with a variety of Christian and geometric mosaics and inscriptions. He openly declared his Christian faith at the same time Theodosius I made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire.

Moved by the abject poverty of Kourion’s citizens even 15 years after the devastating earthquake of 365AD, Eustolios donated a beautiful complex of public baths and public rooms to his hometown. It was located next to the amphitheater on the east end of the city.

house-of-eustolios-mosaic-entry

The Entry Hall, with the Bath House's upper tiers visible in the background

“Welcome With Good Health to This House”
is the inscription at the entrance to the complex.

house-of-eustolios-panoramaStunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from the House of Eustolios

The bath area was in the classic Roman style, having three large bath chambers—the frigidarium, caldarium, and tepidarium which were enjoyed by the patrons who readied themselves in the apodyteriums, the dressing rooms. Numerous apsidal sections constructed around the villa added semi-circular niches for privacy and softened rectangular rooms.

"An Apodyterium" - 1886 by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Each room served a specific purpose; the whole complex was laid out efficiently and with great care to best serve those who frequented it. The entire complex was beautifully decorated with columns and mosaics. One inscription refers to ‘fragrant halls.’

The Caldarium, with the tiles to raise the floor above the underground heating chambers clearly visible

Built atop the remains of an earlier Roman manor, the House of Eustolios was constructed during the latter part of the 4th century.

As well as the bath complex, the House of Eustolios also contained meeting and dining halls, where much business was no doubt discussed by the citizens of Kourion.

Intricate mosaic patterns covered the floors throughout and extend through the banquet and meeting halls, bathing and dressing rooms, and open courtyards.

To examine the Christian Symbols found in Eustolios’ House, CLICK HERE.

Geometric Mosaic with Partridge Centerpiece

The House's upper levels, looking towards the Amphitheater exit

Most of the structure is terraced and would have been an luxurious structure with bathing pools, solariums, salons for relaxation, dining areas, sanitary areas, and recreational facilities.

It would have offered a cool respite from the harsh, dry summer months, an oasis open for public use.

But of course it is Eustolios’ own, private residence with its many beautifully preserved Christian mosaics which draws most visitors to this remarkable archaeological site. Aside from mosaics decked with numerous Christian symbols, the doorstep to one of the private area of  Eustolios’ home has the following, clearly devoted, mosaic inscription:

“The Sisters Reverence, Prudence and Piety
tend the Platform and this fragrant Hall.”

Mosaic Inscription in ancient Greek

The baths and public complex continued to serve Kourion’s population up until the middle of the seventh century, when it was finally destroyed by the growing number of Arab raiders which began in this century. Along with the rest of Kourion, the House of Eustolios remained undiscovered until recent times.

The Bath complex's underground heating system

The House of Eustolios had an advanced drainage and sewage system as did other newly constructed buildings in Kourion of the late 4th Century. All of the workings were hidden away under the floors of the complex. Gray water was used in the latrines, a concept used today in environmentally friendly design.

Reservoirs, cisterns, terracotta pipes and water channels are visible today from extensive excavations, but at the time of use, all would have been out of site, covered with common tiles or exquisite mosaics depending on the function of the room.

West side of Eustolios' baths, with entries to underground heating chambers

Drain with runnel for clay piping system from the House of Eustolios

Middle tier of Eustolios' Baths, with clay pipe in the center

The House of Eustolios had the most advanced plumbing network of the period, and thus far excavated, the most sophisticated yet found in Kourion. Water heated underground to warm and to hot temperatures was supplied by pipes to the appropriate baths around the complex.

Eustolios had returned to Kourion to find it a dismal, struggling town. He built the complex to help rejuvenate his hometown and to offer a place of calm refuge to his fellow citizens.

 

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