Yeronisos Island lies on the South Western corner of Cyprus, just off the Peyia Coast. From Agios Georgios you can get a glimpse of its charms, but to appreciate it fully it is best viewed from above. So let's launch the drone and go and have a closer look at this mysterious, historial location.
There She Blows
There are a number of landmarks in Paphos which can be used to help get your bearings. The Wind Farm is one, the water tower above Sunny Polemi is another. And who could possibly fail to have noticed the new tower that is being built in Paphos? When I am exploring the Akamas, Yeronisos Island always serves to remind me in which way civilisation lies.
I have gazed longingly at it many times, wondering what lay on the plateau, above its rocky cliffs. So I eventually decided to take my drone for a spin, to see what lurked there.
Incidentally, before we go any further, I should clear up something about the spelling. According to Google Maps, it is spelled "Yeronissos", yet the website I found with information, and indeed, Wikipedia, both spell it "Yeronisos". I used the Google spelling for the video title, so I will cover my losses and spell it without the double s here.
You can see from this picture that some of the ruins are falling foul of the ravages of nature. Bits of this are falling into the sea. But what exactly are we looking at? Let's turn to the island's dedicated website.
The place name Yeronisos, or “Holy Island,” is a very ancient one, known already in the first century B.C. to the Roman writer Pliny (Natural Histories 5.129-131) who speaks of an island called “Hiera” near Paphos in western Cyprus. A century later, Strabo (Geographies 14.6.4) mentions a place called “Hierocepis” nearby Paphos and Akamas. Steep cliffs, strong currents, and lack of water have long discouraged visitors from landing on Yeronisos. Its inaccessibility has allowed the island to remain one of the truly virgin sites of Cyprus, with ancient levels undisturbed since Byzantine times.
I have always been led to believe that people are not allowed on the island unless part of an Authorised Archaeological Party. However, in researching for this article, I have found nothing so far that corroborates that belief. So I can only assume the thing stopping people from visiting is its inhospitable coastline.
If you do manage to get to shore though, rest assured that the authorities are very keen on protecting historical assets, and if you are caught with an old piece of pottery in you back pocket you will be dealt with severely.
Anyway I shall continue the narrative from the website below.
The American consul Luigi Palma di Cesnola, who cleared so many Cypriot sites of their antiquities during the 19th century, claimed to have visited the Roman tombs at Agios Georgios-tis-Peyias in 1876. Apparently, he was not tempted over to Yeronisos. D.G. Hogarth carefully explored the area in 1888 and later questioned whether Cesnola had ever actually visited Cape Drepanum, so different were his findings from those described by the American consul. Hogarth did not cross over to what he calls “St. George Island” but was informed by the Commissioner, Captain Thompson, that that the island contained cisterns, just like those found opposite on the mainland.