Located a few km out to sea on the southern coast,seen from the main road into Paphos is a collection of boulders known as 'Aphrodite's Rock.According to legend,Aphrodite:Goddess of Love and Beauty,rose from the waves in this beautiful part of Cyprus.the Greek name'Petra Tou Romiou' meaning 'The Rock of the Greek' is associated with the legendary frontier guard of Byzantine times 'Digenis Akritas',who kept the marauding Saracens at bay with amazing strength.It is said that he heaved these large rocks into the sea destroying the enemies ships.Local legend has it that if a man swims around the rocks three times when the moon is full he will be fully fertile.
The project for this park started with 'Mr.Christos Christoforou's' love of Birds and Wildlife when his private collection was decided to be shown to the public of being a unique Zoo in Cyprus.His aim was to educate the local community about the importance of caring and conserving all Bird and Animal life.The Zoo took three years to complete and was finally open to the public in September 2003.The Park is contantly upgrading and adding new features such as the Amphitheatre in 2004 where talks on Animals and the Park take place,this holds up to 350 people at one time.There are also daily Owl and Parrot shows.
Opening hours,Winter Season:1st Oct till 31st Mar-09.00 till 17.00
Summer Season:1st April till 30th Sept-09.00 till 18.00
Prices:Adults-15.00 Euros,Children-8.50 Euros,Annual tickets available.
Visit the Mycenean settlement called Palaiocastro Maa which should not to be missed especially if you are in the area of the Coral Bay. It dates back to 1250 BC.
It is about an important settlement of the end of the Bronze Age.
There is a museum just behind the Hotel Thalassa Boutique at the Coral Bay. The entrance is 1.70 euros.
Ask a local about the recent redevelopment of the seafront promenade in Paphos and the chances are you'll be told in no uncertain terms it has been less than a success. It's all very shiny and new and the summer crowds no doubt approve of the absence of cars and clutter , there are plenty of shops, restaurants galore and so what if the old seawall is gone and there's nowhere to sit - who wants to sit around when there's shopping to be done and icecreams to eat?
Winter tells a different tale - especially when a winter gale blows in. That old seawall protected the promenade and the seafront businesses from the waves that can the wind can whip up to a considerable size. Just such a storm blew up on the last night we were there and the town woke to find the seafront awash, with heaps of seaweed piled against plate glass windows, sand and shingle strewn all over the road - what a mess!
Good as it may look on the plans, not all modernisation is for the better.
Of course, not every day brings a storm like that and on a sunny winter's day, a walk along the promenade around the harbour to the old fort is popular with visitors and locals alike. A Sunday morning concert adds a charming touch - the wind in the speakers adding a note Mozart never thought of.
The mosaic decorations and the mythological compositions are the main characteristics of this restored Roman villa, dating back to the second century A.D. The name “House of Dionysus” is mainly due to the many representations of Dionysus, the god of wine. The house most probably belonged to a member of the ruling Roman class or to a wealthy citizen of Paphos.
Petra tou Romiou, a rock off the shore along the main road from Paphos to Limassol, has been regarded since ancient times as the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddes of love and fertility.
According to ancient tradition, Aphrodite was born from the waves on the site off the coast of Cyprus.
Type of site: Ancient Greek shrine
During the holiday season, a kiosk sells soft drinks.
The ruins of Kourion are found near Episkopi.
You will see well preserved mosaics and it is worth visiting.
Directions: Opening Hours:08.00 - 19.30
Admission: 1.70 euro.
Almost all the site is wheelchair accessible:
4 km southwest of the village of Episkopi in the District of Limassol
The name of Geroskipou village comes from the Greek phrase "Ieros Kipos" the sacred garden of Aphrodite. A fascinating collection of folk art and craft pieces is exhibited in the beautiful traditional house of Hadjismith.
Saturday and Sunday: closed
Saturday and Sunday: closed
The archaeological Museum of Pafos houses an attractive collection of Cypriot antiquities from the Pafos area, dating from the Neolithic Age to 1700 AD.
Visit the tombs of the Kings as well.
All the year round
Sunday & Monday: closed
You only have to travel 9 kilometres north of Paphos to enter another world - one far removed from both the brash commerciality of the tourist town and the ruins of its Classical past. The Monastery of Agios Neophytos is a haven of calm tranquillity, a cloistered world where for centuries monks have lived out their lives in a routine of prayer and work that has barely changed since the monastery was founded in the last years of the 12th century. Beautifully maintained terraces and gardens surround a 15th century church, the burial place of the saint whose holy relics have mostly long since been dispersed, leaving just his skull behind, encased in a silver reliquary and the focus of pious veneration among the local people. There a small museum near the church with a collection of icons, manuscripts and maps, ecclesiastical garments and religious artifacts as well as a collection of ancient Cypriot pottery .
Poor Neophytos - all he wanted was a quiet, ascetic life and here, at the head of a remote roccky defile, he thought he'd found just the place to retire to way back in the middle of the 12th century. A little group of shallow inter-connecting caves halfway up the cliff facing the monastery was his choice for his hermitage but there was no way a scholar and holy man of his repute could keep himself isolated and wasn't long before a community of followers established themselves at the base of his cliff. An imposing stone facade fronts, and protects the saint's caves (known as the Enkleistra), a long staircase providing easier access that the ladders of old. It's all very imposing and in no way does it prepare you for the extraordinary impact of passing through the doorway and into the frescoed cell and chapel Neophytos carved out of the rock and made his home.
Photography is forbidden and , for one, am glad it is. This place is so extraordinary there is no way I would want the distraction of cameras (mine or anyone else's) to come between the visitor and these tiny rooms and their compelling images. A small entry chamber (the narthex) leads into the sacristry where wonderful paintings of scenes of the last days of Christ's life cover the walls and the ceiling. Another tiny passage leads into the saint's cell with its rock platform bed , desk, bench and the sarcophagus he carved for himself. Basic as the "comforts"of this cell are, one of the doors cut into the rock face above this first level leads into the even more ascetic dwelling Neophytos created for himself for the last 20 years of his life - this cave is not open to visitors.
3 kilometres up the hill from tourist-dominated Kato Paphos, Ktima Paphos presents itself as a pleasant Mediterranean town going about the everyday occupations of business, civic administration, shopping, schooling and, of course, sitting around in cafes. Whilst there's little that is compellingly interesting about Ktima, a couple of hours spent there makes a refreshing change from the relentless tourist tat of the town by the harbour.
The colour and bustle of local markets is always attractive and Ktima Paphos' municipal market is no exception. Souvenir hunters will find the craft section interesting - and cheaper than similar offerings down by the harbour and for those who count retail therapy as an essential part of any holiday will find any number of places to indulge their hobby - from local boutiques to British favourites such as Marks, Mango and Mothercare.
White stucco colonial-era buildings, the (now locked and barred ) Turkish mosque, monuments and museums provide interest for sight-seers and snappers and there are any number of cafes and kafeneons offering a more authentic taste of Cyprus than most of the establishments down the hill.
Never ones to pass up a seriously good icon collection, we opted for a visit to the Byzantine museum where some of the images date back into the seriously early years of iconography - the 9th, 12th and 13th centuries. Another time, we would probably opt for the Archaeological museum, you might prefer the folksiness of the privately-owned and run Ethnographic Museum.
Anyone wanting to really come to grips with Ktima Paphos might like to consider the free walking tour that takes place on Tuesdays in summer - or, if Tuesday doesn't suit - print off the very detailed itinerary given on the website and set off on your own.
More relics of Paphos' long history lie scattered over the area between the fenced section of the Archaeological Park and the Ayia Kyriaki church and basilica. In the area known as Fabrica Hill, there is a maze of caves and rocky outcrops, catacomb churches and the Graeco-Roman amphitheatre - it's an area that's waiting for me to explore next time I'm in Paphos, there just wasn't enough time this time.
What we did have time for was brief walk around the Lusignan baths just north of Ayia Kyriaki and over to the catacomb of Ayia Solomoni. The baths are substantial and quite well preserved but you can only look at them from the outside at present; however, there seems to be evidence of some work being done around them so who knows, maybe next time I'm in Paphos it will be possible to see them from the inside.
The catacomb of Ayia Solomoni is one of a number of these underground complexes carved into the limestone around Paphos. Steps carved into the rock take you down to an small courtyard with four chambers leading off it and a sacred well to one side. Take care as you approach the well - the water is so clear you can easily step into it without realizing. There's no doubt this was a holy place long before being appropriated by the town's Christians and turned into a subterranean chapel - it was almost certainly first a pagan shrine and may well have been a synagogue in early Roman times. The supplicatory rags tied to the large terebinth (turpentine) tree that overshadows the catacomb speaks of a tradition that is far older than the faith of the local Christians and (in the town's recent past) Muslims who still come to leave a symbol of their prayer for the healing the waters of the holy well are believed to effect.
Incidentally, the sainted Solomoni isn't the wise king of the Old Testament but a woman whose 7 children were said to have been martyred by a Seleucid (Persian) king some two hundred years before the Romans began perseceuting Christian.
Kato Paphos' ancient ruins aren't confined just to the area around the Roman villas - large as that precinct is, there are several major sites scattered all through the western and northern part of town. One that attracts pilgrims as well as the idly curious tourist is the 4th century AD basilica of Panagia Chrysopolitissa (Our Lady of the Golden City), the ruins of which lie in front of the little 11th century church of Ayia Kyriaki.
Why does a ruined Byzantine basilica bring pilgrims to this very touristy town? Legend has it that the worn down pillar in the western corner was where St Paul the Apostle was tied and lashed by the Jews of Paphos. Apochryphal or not, the legend persists and the pillar has been worn to a smoothly rounded stub by the touch of the faithful through the centuries.
Ongoing excavations continue to reveal more and more of the basilica's chequered history, the various forms it took through hundreds of years. A massive seven aisles at first, reduced to five at some point, and with a bishop's palace part of the complex, it was all but destroyed during Arab raids in the 7th century. Painstaking work by archaeologists over decades has revealed significant areas of mosaic flooring once thought to have been completely destroyed by first the Arab raiders and later mediaeval usage of the remnant church.
The small stone church of Ayia Kyriaki is notable for its multi-denominational community. Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Maronite and Finnish services are all held here - a remarkable example of ecumenical co-operation.
...or, more correctly, an odeion - similar in shape to a Classical Greek or Roman theatre but smaller and roofed - sits near the top of the small hill to the north of the House of Dionysios. Dating from the 1st century AD, it probably seated a couple of thousand people and would have been used for musical and oratory contests and plays. A much larger open theatre is being excavated on Fabrica Hill, a large area outside the Archaeological Park, on the other side of the main road north out of Paphos. Time constraints precluded our exploring the Hill this time (another reason to return to Cyprus) so we had to make do with the Odeion.
The restoration work carried out on it in the 1970s certainly wasn't inspired, which is a shame as the setting, with the town's lighthouse and the sea behind it, is attractive. No doubt, if the work had been done more recently, sympathetic conservation might have been the way it went; as it is, the bottom dozen rows have been rebuilt to allow the odeion to be used for outdoor performances. Photo 2 (a photo of a photo on the information board) shows clearly the size of the entire building and the extent of the ancient agora that occupied the area to the east. The whole area was thick with asphodel (the flower of Hades and Persephone in Greek myths) when we were there, making it difficult to distinguish anything but the area it covered - pretty though!
With more time we would have walked over to the remnants of the ancient city walls. With lunch in the foothills of the Troodos on our agenda, we made our way instead to the nearby fortress ruins, the so-called Saranda Kolones (Forty Columns - photo 4) - truth be told you'd be hard pressed to find one intact column in this tumble of stone. The fallen columns and several arches sit on a solid four-square base surrounded by a moat. No doubt a guide would be able to point out many more salient features than we detected; we made do with a walk right around the perimeter and across the top before heading back to the car and our Sunday lunch.
This area of the Archaeological park is thought to be the site of ancient Paphos' acropolis. Had our stay been longer we would have had time to explore the area more thoroughly, checking out the Asklepion - the temple dedicated to the Greek god of healing and medicine - which lies just south of the odeion and the ruin of the 5th century church of the Panagia Limeniotissa (Our Lady of the Harbour).
If the House of Orpheus and the House of the Four Seasons are closed (as they were at the time of our visit) when you've had your fill of the Houses of Theseus and Aion, it's time to walk across to the large roofed structure over to the right (photo 5). This is the House of Dionysius, and under that roof is a such a wealth of mosaics that even the most jaded ruined-out visitor should make time for a visit.
The first of the Paphos mosaics to be discovered (in 1962), with one exception they date from the late 2nd -early 3rd century AD - the exception is a much earlier Greek mosaic (photo 4), executed simply in black and white pebbles, that was moved here from another site. Interesting as it is, it is far outshone by the spread of fabulous mosaics that cover almost every floor in what was once a substantial villa that spreads before you.
Apart from the pantheon of gods getting up to all sorts of antics (photo 1) depicted in room after room, there are wonderfully lively renditions of animals (photo 2), a beautiful Four Seasons (photo 3) and some fine geometric designs Whoever it was who commissioned this work, he was obviously a very wealthy man - it would have taken a very deep pocket indeed to foot the bill for this amount of the mosaicist's time and artistry.
Rather than go into further detail here, I think I'll make a Travelogue where anyone who is interested can see and read more. Of course, the best thing to do is take yourself off to Cyprus to see them for yourself. Maybe by the time you get there the Houses of Orpheus and the Four Seasons will be open.
The Paphos mosaics have been placed on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
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