The House of Eustolios

Built atop the remains of an earlier Roman manor, the House of Eustolios was constructed during the latter part of the 4th century. The wealthy Eustolios returned to his native Kourion to find it still in a truly pitiful state even twenty-five years after the devastating earthquake of 365AD. Moved by the abject poverty of Kourion's citizenry, he donated a beautiful complex of public baths, dedicated to Christ and decorated with a variety of Christian and geometric mosaics, to help the city's population.

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Eustolios of Kourion

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"Eustolios, having seen that the Kourians, although previously very wealthy, were in abject misery, did not forget the city of his ancestors but first having presented the baths to our city, he was then taking care of Kourion as once did Phoebus, and built this cool refuge sheltered from the winds."

This tribute, written in mosaic form can be found on the east portico of Eustolios' home. As an integral part of Cyprus' early Christian History, it speaks to us across time of Eustolios' Christian Faith and his dedication to the teachings of Jesus that are represented in so many of the complex's decorations.

 

The House of Eustolios seen from the opposite hillside
The House of Eustolios seen from the opposite hillside

These early Christian symbols are scattered throughout the house, depticting various birds, crosses, fish, creation and even one specific mosaic which openly declares that his home is protected by the much venerated signs of Christ.

Mosaic Inscription: This House in place of its ancient armament of walls and iron and bronze and steel, has now girt itself with the much venerated symbols of Christ
Mosaic openly dedicating the House of Eustolios to the
Glory of Christ.

Perched on top of Kourion's south-facing cliffs, the complex is built from massive limestone blocks, and originally contained more than thirty rooms, as well as an enclosed garden, complete with a fountain and even a fish pond.

The House of Eustolios and Kourion Amphitheater
The House of Eustolios and the Kourion Amphitheater
seen from near the Earthquake House

Throughout the house can be found a multitude of beautiful mosaics, and even today it is easy to imagine how spacious, airy and above all lavish this public building must have been during its use.

The interior of Eustolios' House, seen from the bath complex
View through the House of Eustolios from its bath complex

As is the norm with Roman Baths, this one contains three principal areas, the frigidarium, the tepidarium and the caldarium, which were used in this sequence by the building's patrons.

Part of the Bath Complex at the House of Eustolios
Part of the Bath Complex at Eustolios' House

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.

Looking up into the House of Eustolios from below the sourthern portico
View into Eustolios' House from outside the south portico

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 such as the one below, decked with numerous Christian symbols, the doorstep to one of the private home's wings holds the following, clearly devoted, mosaic inscription:

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

Christian Mosaic depicting various fish and fowl from the House of Eustolios in Kourion
Christian Mosaic depicting fish and bird motifs at the
House of Eustolios in Kourion

While the symbolism behind some of the mosaics is clear, it has become obvious to archaeologists that the meaning of others, although they are quite clearly part of an overall Christian design, has been lost through the span of ages.

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 to appear at this time. Along with the rest of Kourion, it remained undiscovered until recent times.


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The dedication of Eustolios' Home to Christ

"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."

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A few of the Mosaics from the House of Eustolios:

A Fish, part of the Christian Mosaic seen to the left
ICHTUS

Each letter of the Greek word ICHTUS represents: Jesus, Christ, Lord, Son Saviour.

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Mosaic Cross
One of a number of different crosses found in the house's mosaics.

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3D Effect Cube Mosaic
3D-Effect Geometric Motif

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Double Geometric Mosaic
Flower/Cross Motif from the Eastern Portico

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Mosaic Bust of KTCIC
Mosaic Bust of KTICIC
(Symbol of Creation)

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Christian Oil Lamp depicting a fisherman centerpiece ringed by grapes
Ancient Christian Oil Lamp depicting a fisherman and fish, ringed by grapes

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Pheasant Mosaic at the House of Eustolios
This symbol's meaning is lost to us today

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Mosaic supposedly depicting a falcon
The tame falcon represented a pagan's conversion to the Faith

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Guinea Hen Centerpiece
As the main Christian mosaic's centerpiece, the Guinea Hen was obviously an important symbol to early Christians, but no one is quite sure what it represented.

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