Kouklia Things to Do
If you take the time to travel from the centre of Paphos a mere 9 miles West, you will come upon a wonderful archaeological site, as yet not fully excavated, called Paleopafos. The name, literally translated, means, Old Paphos, and it is hugely important, having been already designated a UNESCO heritage site.
The evidence suggests that there was a pagan centre here between the 12th and 3rd centuries BC, primarily associated with the so -called "Cult of Aphrodite", whose Sanctuary was located here. It was a place of pilgrimage for the Cypriots long prior to the Christian age. Although it looks tiny in comparison to modern day Paphos, this was actually a city state in it's own right, so important was the Cult.
The place is said to have been founded by one Agaperon, a hero of the Trojan wars.
There is a local legend that speaks of King Pygmalion who sculpted a statue of the goddess so beautiful that he fell in love with it. The Goddess Aphrodite was so moved by this that she made the statue flesh, and Pygmalion had a son by her, named Paphos, thus giving a name to the place.
The site is open from 0900 - 1600 every day except public holidays and, as well as the outdoor exhibits, there is a small museum inside a lovely old building built during the Crusades.
My friend who lives in Kouklia told me that (and this is not shown anywhere on the tourist guides) the little door (see photo) in the empty room in the museum, used to house the execution chamber when the building was used as a prison in recent times. He still remembers it as such.
There are some reasonably preserved mosaics on display as well (see photo).
It's definitely worth taking a little time out (you can visit the site comfortably in a couple of hours) from the tourist delights of Paphos to visit here.Related to:
- Museum Visits
You may stumble upon Kouklia by accident, or, more likely, you will be here to visit the Paleopafos UNESCO heritage site (see seperate tip). Either way, tired and thirsty after a days travelling or archaeology, you may find yourself in need of a little refreshment. This is the place to go.
I have made mention in other tips about Cyprus and Greece of the ethos of the kafenion. Such places, traditionally, are entirely male preserves where cards and tavli (a form of backgammon) are played, newspapers are read and sport and politics are discussed - usually at great volume! I know of many where women are openly stared at if they dare to enter. This place isn't one of those, however, possibly due to tourist influence, and women can feel quite comfortable here.
It's situated in the square of the village and is a great place to have a coffee or something stronger and just watch the world go by. The lady who runs it (whose name, to my shame, I cannot remember) is very friendly as are the locals. A nice place to spend a little time and if you're not local you'll be made to feel most welcome.
To me, a place like this is absolutely representative of the Cypriot culture that I love so much.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
- Wine Tasting
If you have visited the Paleopafos UNESCO heritage site, you may well just jump into your car and head back into Paphos town. I would urge you to stop for just a little while to visit this gem of a church - the church of Panagia Odigitria. Panagia in Greek is the name for the Virgin Mary, by the way. It is generally reckoned that the church was built in the 13th century.
You may actually have difficulty seeing it as it stands some feet below the level of the road. There is a local legend about this (isn't there always in Cyprus?) - the legend is that the church was buried for centuries, possibly following an earthquake, and that farmers ploughing came upon the roof of it a few centuries ago. They excavated the place and reinstated the Church - or so they say!
Whatever the actual history, it is a very fine church with a wonderful ceiling (see photo) and some pleasing icons. It's worth popping into if you are in the area.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
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