The city of Paphos used to be the capital of Cyprus in antiquity for 600 years. It is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus. Paphos has the second largest airport and one of the many ports on the island. Paphos has one of the richest archaeological areas with sites dating back to the Roman period. Paphos is mainly a tourist city with many attractions, natural landscapes and beaches. There is a variety of hotels, accommodation, as well as restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from.
Made up of ancient ruins and buildings, the Acropolis is situated near the new Paphos Lighthouse. Built in the second century, the Odeon is made of pure limestone. Today it is used to stage musical and live performances. The structure is semi circular in shape with 12 rows of seats. It occupied an important place in ancient Cypriot history and even today with the influx of tourists its value has not diminished. To the south of the Odean are the remains of the Roman temple of Asclepius, God of Medicine and to the north are remains of ancient town walls.
The history behind Adonis Baths relates to the love story between Aphrodite and Adonis. Both Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Persephone, the Goddess of Underworld, loved Adonis. This led to a fight between Aphrodite and Persephone and the court ruled that Adonis should spend one third of his time with Aphrodite, one third with Persephone and the remaining is reserved for him. But Adonis cheated on Persephone by spending the one-third time reserved for him, with Aphrodite. Persephone got angry and got him killed by a wild boar. After hearing the news, Aphrodite ran towards Adonis and while doing so she bled from her feet. The route through which Aphrodite ran and where blood dripped from her feet has caused lilies to grow, so goes the saying.
Agia Solomoni Church/ Catacombs of Agia Solomóni
Not very far away (just 1 k.m. away from Kato Paphos port) the Agia Solomoni church was originally a Christian catacomb and is home to 12th century frescoes. At the entrance of the underground catacombs stands a large pistachio tree that is believed to be sacred. It is believed that if you tie a piece of cloth to one of its branches with honest intentions then you will be cured of your ailments. In ancient times the catacombs were carved in the Fabrica Hill, which later became a church for the Christians. The chapel features some interesting decorations in the form of frescoes and grafittis inscribed by the Crusaders. As it is dark inside, visitors are advised to take a torch so that you can view the Chapel and the catacombs properly. Address: Agio Pavlou Street, Kato Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus
Agios Georghios Basilica and the fountains of Pegeia
About 4 kms from the fishing village of Pegia, stand two ruins depicting early Christianity in Paphos. They include the Agios Georghios Basilica and the fountains of Pegia. The church has some nice mosaic floors portraying animal pictures. There are some rock-hewn tombs, dating back to the Roman period, above the sea. The Fountains are located in the Pegia village square.
Ayios Neophytos Monastery
Ayios Neophytos Monastery has been believed to be founded by the Cypriot writer Neophytos in 1159. He carved his home out of the mountain rock, which has today become a monastery in his name and here you will find some beautiful frescoes dating back to Byzantine Empire. Today, only a few monks stay in the monastery which has a museum featuring many religious items like manuscripts, holy utensils, old books, priestly garments, jewellery and a collection of Cypriot pottery and maps on display. Every year in January the monastery holds a two day religious fair where you can find Cypriot crafts, art pieces and monastic goods for sale.
Baths of Aphrodite
Located in the Akamas Peninsula near the little fishing village of Latchi, is the famous mythological site ‘Baths of Aphrodite’. It is believed that on this romantic site, Aphrodite used to take her baths in the pools of the natural cave. The cave is surrounded by a fig tree with beautiful natural wildlife. There are many myths surrounding the pools and one of them is that if one bathed in them, they are restored of their fertility. However, nowadays nobody is allowed to enter the pools. The site can be reached by the nature trails of Akamas. Address: Akamas Peninsula, near Polis, North Paphos, near Latchi village, Cyprus
The Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery, which is situated at 610 metres high, gives an outstanding view of the surrounding flora and fauna. It was founded in the 12th century, but the existing building dates back to the 18th century. The monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary or the Cypriot ‘Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate’. Inside the monastery there is a variety of religious icons and treasures on display. One statue that attracts the most attention is that of the Virgin Mary which is made of pure silver. On the 15th August a celebration is held in honor of the Virgin Mary as it is believed on this day she slept but did not wake up. The word death is not used as the ‘Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate’ is in deep sleep, but her other senses and organs like her heart and brain are still working.
The Paphos Fort or castle is located at the Kato Paphos harbor. It was originally a Byzantine fort, but was remodeled by the Lusignans. But in 1570 the Venetians destroyed the castle, but during the Ottoman rule the castle was restored to it old glory, expanded and reinforced. Built of strong and large stones, the castle is connected to the harbor via an arched bridge. There are very few windows but the view from the top of castle is superb. The fort is noted in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites and is fully protected.
Saránta Kolónes (Forty Columns)
Saránta Kolónes are ruins of an ancient castle located to the north of Paphos harbour and when translated into English literally mean Forty columns. The name comes from the fact that the original castle was built on the base of 40 granite columns. The columns are said to be constructed by the Lusignans in 13th century on the previous site of the Byzantine castle. The castle itself is said to be constructed in 7th century to protect from Arab invaders and later the Lusignans remodelled it. Today, the castle is in ruins but there are some places to explore like the dungeons and towers. Address: North of Paphos harbour, Kato Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus
Petra Tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock)
Petra Tou Romiou or Aphrodite’s Rock is not something to be missed. Supposed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of love, it is believed that she emerged from the sea at this bay. Aphrodite herself chose the famous rock to begin her life as a human. It is said that Aphrodite first travelled to the island of Cythera, but she found it too small and therefore reached Paphos and settled here. The name Petra Tou Romiou which means ‘Rock of the Greek’, comes from the story of the Byzantine frontier guard who used to throw these ‘petras’ in the sea to destroy Arab ships during a raid by the Saracens on Cyprus.
The Mosaics of Paphos
Situated near the Paphos harbour, are some superbly preserved mosaic remains dating from third to fifth century A.D. These mosaic floors can be seen in the Villa of Dionysos, Orpheus and Aion, and the Villa of Theseus, in the form of pavements. A farmer accidentally discovered these mosaics while he was ploughing his field. Till today, the villas are being excavated and the mosaics that are being found depict scenes from Greek mythology and are made from small cubes of marble stone along with glass paste. These small marble cubes are called tesserae. The wide range of these beautiful designs can be seen in the Villa of Dionysos where nearly 5,985 sq.ft of area consisting of 14 rooms are covered with the mosaics. Address: Kyriakou Nikolaou Street, Kato Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus | Tel: +357 26 306 217
Tombs of the Kings
As the name suggests, no kings are buried here. But actually it’s the resting place of 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats who died in Paphos between 3 B.C. and 3 A.D. Located northwest of Paphos harbour, near the Coral bay the structure consists of solid rock formations featuring Doric pillars and walls decorated with frescoes. Ongoing archaeological excavations have discovered the Church of Paleoekklisia, which depict Byzantine frescoes. Address: Tombs of the Kings / Villa of Dionysos, Kato Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus | Tel: +357 26 306 295
Kouklia Temple of Aphrodite
The temple of Aphrodite was officially established by its cult by constructing a hilltop temple on the important pilgrimage site of Palea Paphos. Although erected in 1500 BC, idols and coins related to Aphrodite dating back to 3800 BC have been found at the site. The temple stood on a knoll about 2 kms inland around which soon the town of Palea Paphos started forming. The Cyprus Exploration Fund first excavated the sanctuary in 1887 with findings again by the British Kouklia Expedition in 1950-55. Recently it has been dug by the Swiss-German expedition since 1996. Address: Kouklia village, 14 km (9 miles) east of Paphos, Paphos, Cyprus