The Roman site of Soli boasts the best-preserved mosaic and marble floor in the North Cyprus in its basilica, and nearby beach restaurants offer a pleasant stop for lunch and swim. The site lacks grandeur and its setting, though raised up overlooking the bay, is a bit scruffy and uninspiring. The theatre is the only other monument to have been excavated besides the basilica, and has been rather over-restored. The ticket kiosk is open 09.00-19.00 and about 45 minutes should be allowed for a tour. There are no refreshments available, and Soli is not a particularly good picnic spot. Coming from Vouni, look out for the yellow Soli sign to the right just after the village of Yedidalga. Just to the left of the ticket kiosk you can see the cathedral/basilica, with its beautiful mosaic and marble floor. Among the marble remnants, you can still see some magnificent colours: columns in deep brick-red marble with swirls of white, or cool greeny-white slabs on the floor. The majority of the mosaics are geometric in design, with red, white and dark blue as the predominant colours. Sadly, these colours have faded due to long exposure to the sun (the roof was only erected in the past few years). Near the centre, the main area of mosaic is chained off in token protection. The centrepiece is a lovely white swan or goose-like bird surrounded by flower motifs, with four small blue dolphins and a pretty multi-coloured duck. At the far end of the basilica a huge tumbled column gives some idea of the size of the whole structure, whose full length must have been close to 200m. The baptistery area was also mosaic, but only with geometric patterns. In the apse itself is a Greek inscription set in an oblong panel, entirely in mosaic. Nearby is a deep well, and scattered all around are thousands of fragments of marble flooring. The theatre, dating from the 3rd century AD, lies a few minutes’ walk higher up the hill, approached by the tree-lined path. Facing out to sea, it stands on the same site as the theatre of the original Greek city of Soli before it, and had a similar capacity, some 4,000. The town had reached its zenith under the Romans, but was destroyed in the Arab raids of the 7th century. The heavy restoration carried out in the 1960s by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities has somewhat ruined the atmosphere. Everything was reconstructed except the orchestra floor and the platform of the stage buildings, so the seats, rebuilt to diazoma level (ie: halfway), are all new. The original seats, it is said, were carried off in the last century to help build the quaysides of Port Said. Local school performances are occasionally held here. Above the theatre on the nearby hill to the west are the extremely scant remains of a temple to Aphrodite and Isis, and it was here that the famous, if armless and rather thick-waisted 2nd-century BC statue of Aphrodite was laid bare. She is now on display in the Cyprus Museum, Greek Nicosia. Her likeness is often to be seen on wine bottles, stamps and such like – Aphrodite, goddess of Love, symbol of Cyprus, born from the waves breaking on the shore near Paphos. Nothing of the original 6th-century BC Greek city remains today, and the theatre and basilica are the only visible parts of the Roman city. The rest awaits excavation.