Fun things to do in Paphos

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    Ktima Paphos

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 7, 2011

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    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.

    Cami Kebir - the Great Mosque Byzantine Museum Freshly picked
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    A short walk back in time

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    The Frankish baths A public prayer Ancient catacombs
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    Saint Paul's pillar

    by TheWanderingCamel Written Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

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    A Roman theatre ...

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    ...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).

    Ancient Odeion and modern lighthouse Aerial view of Odeion and agaroa Broken arches ... ... and fallen columns
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    Marvellous mosaics 3 - The House of Dionysius

    by TheWanderingCamel Written Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

    Poseidon's pursues the nymph, Amymone The hunt Spring personified Hellenic pebble mosaic Walkways over the mosaics
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    Marvellous Mosaics 2 - The House of Theseus

    by TheWanderingCamel Written Apr 3, 2011

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    The only way to gain any idea of how brilliant the colours in most ancient mosaics were is to wet them - and that is one BIG no-no, don't even think of it! If, on the other hand, the site is open to the skies and it happens to rain .... Well - that's just how lucky we were when we visited Paphos' mosaics where the House of Theseus is, as yet, unroofed. It had poured with rain the night before our visit, and we arrived there sufficiently early for the sun and the wind not to have dried the tesserae out and the effect was stunning - the colours as bold and as bright as they must have been when the floor was first laid back in the 2nd century AD.

    This house takes its name from the large circular mosaic of Theseus slaying the Minotaur in a small room on the west side of this large villa, much of which has been excavated. Whilst not the finest work in the Archaeological Park and, sadly, the Minotaur has not survived, the mosaic is very lively, showing Theseus, club raised to slay the monster, while a worried-looking Ariadne waits in the background. The other figures are the embodiments of the island of Crete, in female form, while the labrynth is depicted as a bearded man and the whole thing is surrounded by a remarkably intact wide border (photo 1).

    How do we know who is who? The characters in the story are all named on the mosaic. Why are the names in Greek when these are Roman mosaics? Greek was the language of both the eastern Roman Empire and its continuum, Byzantium. Familiarize yourself with the Greek alphabet and it's actually quite easy to work the names out for yourself. (photo 2)

    Two other pictorial mosaics survive , one - the Birth of Achilles - in very good condition (photo 3); the other, showing Neptune and Galatea, is much less so, though the border has fared better than the figurative section (photo 4). There are also some very fine geometric patterned floors to be seen in the bath and the atrium (photo 5)

    With its depiction of a reclining mother, a watching father and the infant Achilles being presented to the Three Fates, the imagery in the Birth of Achilles mosaic is considered by many scholars to be a pagan precursor of illustrations of the Nativity of Christ.

    Slaying the monster Practise your Greek Anew-born babe Not so clear Patterns within patterns
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    Marvellous mosaics 1 -The House of Aion

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Apr 3, 2011

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    No matter how unrestrained the building around Pafos is, one thing is sure - the oldest houses in the town are never going to be redeveloped despite occupying the town's prime piece of real estate. A quintet of Roman villas, built at various times between the 2nd and 4th century AD, they sit on the headland overlooking the harbour and although reduced by time to the merest outline of the dwellings they once were, the magnificence of their mosaic floors tells us these were very grand homes indeed, and that life in Roman Paphos, for some, was lived in considerable style.

    Two houses sit side by side at the end of the path leading up from the entry gate - the House of Aion and the House of Theseus. The smaller of the two is named for the Greek god of eternity, Aion. Only a small section of the villa has been excavated so far and the largest mosaic - the newest (it dates from the 4th century AD), and the most sophisticated of all the mosaics found in Paphos to date - is actually housed in a "house" , a modern structure enclosing it completely and protecting it from the elements.

    The mosaic consists of five panels in an elaborate border - the panels (clockwise from top right) a very clear Bath of Dioysius (photo 2); Miss Olympus c350AD - a beauty contest between Cassiopia and the Nerieds with Aion seated between the winner and her rivals (and thus in the middle of the mosaic - which is why the house is named for him, despite only his head surviving);a fine Apollo and Marsyas (photo 4); a damaged depiction of a Triumphant Procession of Dionysius (photo 4) and lastly a depiction a rather damaged Leda and the Swan (photo 5).

    Thanks to the tricks of modern digital photography, with a bit of cropping, a judicious collaging and some colour adjusting photo 1 shows the layout of the mosaic much more clearly (though obviously the two halves from different perspectives) than the awkward camera angles imposed by the confines of the walkways above the mosaic and a small automatic camera allow. The other photos are a mix of ones taken with film in 2000 and scanned and digital ones this year ( one left a la naturel and one colour enhanced). In reality, the colours in the mosaics are all considerably dulled by the effects of time. In Roman times they would have been kept polished and the effect would have been stunning - as we were to see in the next house we visited ... the House of Theseus.

    Crop, collage, colour - hey presto! it's all there The Bath of Dionysius - old photo scanned Apollo and Marsyas - another old photo Dionysius' Triumph - detail Leda and the swan - untouched
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    Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery

    by greekcypriot Written Apr 1, 2011

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    The Monastery of Chrysorrogitissa is dedicated to 'Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate'.
    It was restored at the end of the 18th century.
    It has a collection of important icons and treasures. It celebrates the 15th of August which is a very important date for the Orthodox church.

    Some of the products the monastery produces here is some good quality wine.

    There is a very old huge pine tree ousite the courtyard ....on the right side of the monastery.
    The views are panoramic from out there.

    The Monastery of Chrysorrogiatissa in Paphos The sign about the huge pine tree Panoramic views from the Monastery The huge pine tree in Chrysorrogiatissa
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    The Monastery of Agios Neophytos

    by greekcypriot Written Apr 1, 2011

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    This monastery is about 10 kms northwest of Paphos.
    I have visited it recently while I was in the Paphos region visiting some cousins of mine.

    It contains some of the finest Byzantine frescoes from the 12th to the 15th centuries.
    The later monastery church contains some of the best examples of post-Byzantine icons of the 16th century and don't leave without visiting the very interesting eclesiastical museum.

    Cats:
    I have never seen in my life so many cats, and I was surprised to see in the parking lot a sign saying that people can feed the cats in that certain spot.
    Cats of so many colours and so beautiful were scattered all around that place.
    Don't forget to take something along for them if you go!

    The Monastery of Agios Neophytos in Paphos Agios Neophytos monastery in Paphos The cats in the Monastery of Agios Neophytos
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    Layers of history

    by TheWanderingCamel Written Mar 28, 2011

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    With a mosaic nut like MrL in the family, Paphos's splendid Roman pavements were right at the top of the list of things to see there...and justifiably so. Since the first accidental discovery in 1962, several wonderful floors have been excavated in the area now designated as an Archaeological Park, no doubt more lie below the ground, waiting to be discovered. At the time of our visit, three houses were open to the public, two others - the House of Orpheus and the House of the Four Seasons, closed on our first visit in 2000, were closed still? again? in 2011. No-one seemed to be able to tell us if this was a long-term closure.

    The mosaics are not the only treasure the park contains however - the site is huge with excavations and structures from just about every stage of Paphos's history - exploring further will reveal a Graeco-Roman Odeion, a mediaeval castle, pre-historic rock-cut tombs, a Byzantine church, a Greek god's sanctuary, the Roman agora - bring a hat, a packed lunch and a water bottle and wear very comfortable shoes if you plan on seeing it all in one hit!

    The ticket office and gatehouse just off the seaside promenade gives acces to the mosaics, castle, theatre and agora. Your ticket covers the other sections of the park outside this area. The park opens every day at 8; closing time varies with the seasons.

    Pre-historic tombs Graeco-Roman theatre Roman villas Byzantine basilica Meadiaeval fortress
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    The mosque of Paphos

    by globetrott Updated Nov 28, 2010

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    The mosque of Paphosis no place that tourists might visit inside, but I think it is also interesting to look at its great architecture from outside. The building was totally closed when I was there and there was nobody around at about lunchtime.
    In the back of their premises there is also a small cememtery with a few tombstones.

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    Paphos Aphrodite Festival

    by greekcypriot Updated Jun 4, 2010

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    Every year the beginning of September the Paphos Festival takes place.
    If you are in Cyprus those days, and you love opera you have the chance to watch the Opera of the Slovak Theatre.
    It takes place in the Paphos Castle, on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of September.
    This year (2010) you will watch "LA BOHEME" by Giacomo Puccini.

    The Opera of Puccini

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    Beautiful Mosiacs.

    by alectrevor Updated Oct 2, 2009

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    The Archaeological Site entrance is near Paphos harbour. The site is huge and i did not see all of it, has it was was hot in the sun. I"m not all that into archaeology but i"m glad i did not miss the roman mosiacs they are beautiful. Entrance fee was 3.40 euro about £3 Brit.

    Entrance to Archaeological Site.

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  • Honey Bee Ceramics Ltd

    by RuthWashbrook Updated May 18, 2009

    I would love to recommend Honey Bee Cermacis to everyone. I had a lovely time when I last visited Paphos on holiday recently. The staff at the Ceramic shop were very pleasant and helpful and I managed to paint a mug with the support of Helen & Polly.
    You can also relax whilst the children paint, or once you have finished painting you can relax after with a cup of coffee and a piece of lovely homemade cake.
    If you want something a bit different to do whilst on holiday, or you are looking for a lovely piece of pottery to give to someone as a present for a special occasion then please contact Honeybee Ceramics.

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  • Great Wall of Lempa

    by artcyprus Written Apr 11, 2009

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    Just north of Paphos, on the Coral Bay and Pegia roads, lies the village of Lempa, home to a sculpture wall by the Cypriot artist Stass Paraskos. Paraskos is the only Cypriot artist to have work in London's Tate Gallery, and at Lempa his sculpture wall is a remarkable thing. It is about 30 metres long, and five metres high and is made of discarded junk, like broken tiles, bottles, old toilets and oil drums. These are made into a sculptures of King Kong, a pygmy elephant and lots of other strange things. There is also a gallery at the Cyprus College of Art in the village, and artist and potters workshops to see. At the bottom of the village there is a reconstructed stone age village, made by students from the University of Edinburgh and the pretty valley is a nature reserve with marked paths to walk. It is a lovely place to spend a morning or late afternoon, not only if you have an interest in art, but just if you want to do something different.

    The Great Sculpture Wall at Lempa Reconstructed Stone Age Village at Lempa
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Paphos Things to Do

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Paphos has it all, peace, beautiful scenery, great beaches but with so much to do for families and the more adventurous.

Must See: The mosaics at the House of Dionysos. They are so vibrant...

Map of Paphos