Paphos: Charm, Style & History
Within all tourit resorts in Cyprus, Paphos is a jewel, a superb combination of a beutiful scenery, historical sites, a picturesque port with fishingboats, an old castel, taverns and outstanding archaological sites that enchant the visitor.
The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and other rulers of Cyprus, all left their landmark on this part of the island. Paphos is romantically associated with the legend of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, of whom Homer said that she was born from the soft foam of the Paphian Sea. “And laugh, lovely Aphrodite went to Paphos in Cyprus, a sacred and fragrant altar” Odyssey VIII 362,
Paphos is a colorful, small town, beautifully located on a rocky escarpment with view to the sea and the historical harbor of Kato (Lower) Paphos. It was the capital city of the inland in the Romer times. Some of the famous Romer Governors of Cyprus who were resided in Paphos, were orator Cicero and Sergius Paulus. Sergius Paulus was the first Governor in the whole empire, who was converted to Christianity by St. Paul in 45 AD.
Here there is an early Christian Basilica from the 4th Century AD, the St. Paul's Basilica that measures 56 by 40 meters. Some other impressive and unique attractions recently discovered in Paphos, are the magnificent mosaics from the Haus of Dionysos and Haus of Theseus, the byzantine Castle of 40 pillars, the theater, gymnasium, and the Odeon.
The whole area of New Paphos is rich in Historic remains, from the castle and ancient wall defenses to the fascinating “Tombs of the Kings”. These tombs, of which there are about 100, are carved out of the solid rock underground, some containing Doric pillars, of such magnificence that they were given the name “Tombs of the Kings”.
Paphos boasts an interesting little museum containing objects that have been found from all over Paphos district, and the Episcopal Palace has a Byzantine museum with many interesting icons and liturgical vessels.
A Journey of about nine and half miles (15kms), along the coast to the east of Paphos will bring you to the histories site of Old Paphos (now known as Kouklia) one of the oldest kingdoms of Cyprus, where you may see the remains of temple of Aphrodite. This was one of the most renowned places of pilgrimage of the ancient Greek world, where thousands of people from all over Mediterranean came annually to pay homage to the Goddess. Another five and half miles (8,5 kms) will bring you to the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, near a prominent group of rocks just off the coast known as “Petra tou Romiou”. Here you may see the rich white foam, which no doubt bore some connection with the ancient legend. The site is also sung by Euripides “Oh take me there, for there is grace and there is desire”.
Seven miles (11 kms) north of Paphos lies the famous monastery of St. Neophytos - with its frescoes and icons. Which are some of the most evocative monuments of Byzantine art. A stimulating drive northeast of Paphos will take you to the heart of forest of Paphos, passing on the way through winding valleys with many charming vineyards. At the edge of the forest, 2000 feet (1250 meters) above sea level, are two of the finest old monasteries of Cyprus: Chrysoroyatissa and Agia Moni.
In the north-east of the Paphos region, the road takes you through more uniquely beautiful scenery - a valley lined with majestic cedar trees, popularly known as the Cedar valley, the like of which does not exist elsewhere in Mediterranean.
Near Polis, on the north-western corner of the island is the famous Spring of love, or the Baths of Aphrodite. It is also known as Fontana Amoroza ad has been sung by Ariosto in Orlando Furiozzo. According to the legend people who bathe in its magical waters regain their youthful strength.