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A view into the covered chambers of the Roman cistern.

Lefkos Roman Cistern, Karpathos

A rock cut cistern near the town of Lefkos, on the Greek island of  Karpathos, is not only one of a small number of accessible Roman sites on the South Aegean island, but it is also a rare example of a Roman water collection structure. On a recent trip to Karpathos, I visited the seaside town of Kato Lefkos, where I saw a half submerged early Christian basilica, and then headed inland for the cistern that was part of the system that supplied the ancient with fresh water.

Ruins of the Roman water cistern on the island of Karpathos, with a view on the sea behind.
The Lefkos Roman cistern on the Greek island of Karpathos.

The Roman Cistern?

Steps leading into the Roman cistern.
Steps at the entrance to the cistern, leading to the rock cut chambers.
Ancient stone pillars, and modern metal reinforcements, hold up the stone covering of the cistern.
Roman stone pillars and modern metal reinforcements hold up the cistern covering.
A view into the covered chambers of the Roman cistern.
A view into the partially exposed central chamber of the cistern.
Carved covering blocks in a pile adjacent to the cistern.
Blocks that once covered the central chamber have been piled up next to the cistern.

Where is the Roman Cistern?

A sign pointing to the cistern, with a beautiful view over the countryside to the sea.
When I visited in May 2018 I found the site to have been well signposted. And, with stunning views to the sea on the western side of the island.

How to Get to the Roman Cistern

Scale model of the Roman cistern in the Karpathos Archaeology Museum.
A scale model of the cistern can be seen in the Karpathos Archaeology Museum.

Archaeology Travel Writer

Thomas Dowson

With a professional background in archaeology and a passion for travel, I founded Archaeology Travel to help more people explore our world’s fascinating pasts. Born in Zambia, I trained as an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and taught archaeology at the universities of Southampton and Manchester (England). Read More

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