Paphos or Pafos in Cyprus is a city that is rich in culture and history. Archaeological evidence has shown that Paphos has been in existence since the Neolithic Period. It is believed to me the birthplace of the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty –Aphrodite. Here you can see the modern and the old like villas and castles from the Classic, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Paphos is also popular for its wonderful beaches. It is a major port and was the capital of Cyprus during the Roman era. Its harbor is a popular tourist destination.
An interesting site to visit on the edge of Paphos harbor is Paphos Castle. This is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. This castle dates back to the Roman era. Originally on this spot was a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbor but it was destroyed during an earthquake in 1222. The Lusignans rebuilt it in the 13th century. At present this castle hosts the annual open-air Paphos Cultural Festival every September.
To the north of Pahos are the ruins of Saranta Kolones Castle. The name saranta kolones translates as forty columns. It was given this name because the original castle was built on a base of 40 granite columns. In the 13th century these columns were reconstructed by the Lusignans. The castle was built in the 7th century as protection against Arab invaders. Today it is in ruins but you can explore the towers and dungeons.
You won’t want to miss seeing Petra Tou Romiou or Aphrodites’s Rock which counts as her birthplace. A rock? You got it but it is legend and as you take a look at it you can also take a swim in the sea. Aphrodite was the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty and her rock is located between the cities of Limassol and Paphos. This rock is believed to be sacred. The legend is that at this point Aphrodite came out of the sea in a great splash of sea foam in 1200 B.C. and chose this rock as a great place to start her life as a mortal. Further the story goes that Aphrodite traveled to the island of Cythera but found that it was too small for her. She then went to Paphos and settled there. Actually Petra Tou Romiou translates to Rock of the Greek and this refers to the story of a Byzantine frontier guard who would take these “petra” and throw them into the sea in an attempt to destroy Arab ships during the Saracens raid on Cyprus.
Near Stroumpi village, Paphos sitting at an altitude of 610 meters above sea level is the Monastery of Chrysorrogiatissa. Here you can see fantastic flora and fauna. This monastery was founded in the 12th century however the building that is here now dates back to the 18th century. It was dedicated to Virgin Mary or the Cypriot “Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate”. Inside the monastery you can see different religious icons and treasures. Attracting the most attention is a statue of the Virgin Mary in pure silver. A celebration is held for her on August 10 to honor the Virgin Mary as it is said that on this day she fell asleep and never woke up. It is not referred to as death because it is believed that “Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate” is in a very deep slumber and her senses and organs such as heart and brain are still working. The monastery’s old winery produces some of the best Cypriot wine.
An incredible place to explore is Tombs of the Kings a large necropolis burial ground found some two kilometers north-west of Paphos harbor. It is believed that many of the underground tombs date back to the 4th century B.C. and were sculpted from solid rock. They are the burial sites of 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats and high officials and some of the tombs have frescoed walls and Doric columns. Tombs of the Kings is on the list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A site that is popular for its monuments is Paphos Archaelogical Park dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. A great many of the remains here date to the Roman era. The highlight of the park are spectacular mosaic floors of four Roman villas.
Enjoy the mysterious underwater world at the Paphos Aquarium. Here you’ll find 72 large tanks full of fish and one is home to crocodiles. You can see common fish and exotic. Special lighting makes for fascinating viewing as you can clearly see the colors of the various fish.
Akamas Peninsula at Paphos is the most beautiful location on the entire island of Cyprus. It is surrounded by mountains and forests. In these forests there are about 530 plant species native to Cyprus. The peninsula is of interest to botanists from all over the world and has become a favored tourist attraction.
Taking you back to the ancient life of Cypriot hermit and writer, Neophytos is the historic Avios Neophytos Monastery. Neophytos actually carved out this monastery from mountain rock in 1159. Today it is home to some monks and has a museum. The museum displays religious manuscripts, holy utensils, old books, maps, priestly garments, jewelry and a Cypriot pottery collection. The monastery is famous for the grottoes dating back to the Byzantine Empire. It is located just 20 minutes from the busy town center of Paphos. In January it hosts a two-day religious fair where Cypriot arts and crafts are sold.
At one time Agia Solomoni Church was a Christian catacomb carved underground out of limestone rock. Here you can see several 12th century frescoes. Inside the church are some original graves dating back to the Hellenistic Period. At the entrance of the underground catacombs is a large pistachio tree that is supposedly sacred. The belief is that if you tie a piece of cloth to one of its branches with your most honest intentions then you’ll be cured of your ailments. In the chapel are interesting frescoes and graffitis inscribed by the Crusades. Since it is dark inside the chapel and the catacombs visitors are urged to take a torch.
The Ethnographical Museum is considered to be the riches museum in Cyprus. Here on display you’ll find woodcarvings, jewelry, tapestries, woven goods, pottery, embroidery and national costumes from the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a great place for art and history lovers.
Displaying items from the 7th century until the 18th century is the Byzantine Museum of Paphos. The highlight of the museum are the Byzantine era artifacts. Among them is the icon of Agia Marina dating from the 8th or 9th centuries and counts as one of the oldest collections available in Cyprus. On display are woodcarvings, ecclesiastical works of metallurgy, sacerdotal vestments and embroideries, manuscripts, old printed books and frescoes and other items.
They are famous for being the finest mosaics in the eastern Mediterranean, the Paphos Mosaics can be found beside the harbor. The mosaics that can be seen in the Villa of Dionysos, Orpheus and Aion and the Villa of Theseus show scenes from Greek mythology. They’re made out of small cubes of marble and stone known as tesserae. Glass paste was used to be able to develop the range of color. These mosaics date back to the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D. At the Villa of Dionysos you can see a large variety of lovely designs and altogether there are 14 rooms decorated with mosaics.
For great family fun visit the Pafos Aphrodite Water Park where you can find lots of different attractions to enjoy especially on a hot day. Here is the biggest family rafting ride in Europe. The water park has more than 10,000 visitors annually. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old or a swimmer or not you’ll have fun here and enjoy yourself a great deal.