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The whole town of Paphos is included in the UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures of the world heritage. Wherever one goes in Paphos one inevitably stumbles across its fabulous history which dates back millennia to when the legend of Aphrodite who emerged from the seas, flourished in this part of the world attracting visitors from near and far. The legacy from its remarkable history adds up to nothing less than an open museum, so much so that UNESCO simply added the whole town to its World Cultural Heritage List. Among the treasures unearthed, are the remarkable mosaics in the Houses of Dionysos, Theseus and Aion, beautifully preserved after 16 centuries under the soil. Then there are the mysterious vaults and caves, the Tombs of the Kings, the Pillar to which Saint Paul was allegedly tied and whipped, the ancient Odeon Theatre and other places of interest including the Byzantine Museum and the District Archaeological Museum.
Paphos was formally an old fishing village & one of the most beautiful and ancient towns of Cyprus, in Hellenic and Roman times was the capital of Cyprus; today its a bustling modern harbour town. Throughout the area there is a glorious history which dates back thousands of years.
The newer part of the town is known as "Kato Paphos" which is the tourist area; here you will find a huge array open air cafes and local taverns where you can sample a meze, bars, nightclubs and shops. You will also find a lovely harbour with waterfront cafes and tavernas. The Old Town of Paphos is set mainly on a hill overlooking the port and sea, there is a maze of narrow winding streets.
Places Of Interest.
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Petra Tou Romiou
Birthplace of Aphrodite, 25km East from Paphos. According to legend, Aphrodite mythological goddess of love and beauty, rose from the waves in this strikingly beautiful spot. The Greek name, Petra tou Romiou " 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 this large rock into the sea destroying the enemies ship. A visit during Sunset is strongly recommended !
Sanctuary of Aphrodite
Kouklia village,14 km east of Pafos was one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centres of the ancient Greek world, and once city-kingdom of Cyprus. Here stood the famous Sanctuary of Aphrodite, the most ancient remains of which date back to the 12th century BC. The glorious days of the sanctuary lasted till the 3rd-4th century. The museum, housed in the Lusignan Manor, contains many interesting finds from the area, and excavations continue on the site of the sanctuary, the city and the necropolis.
The Baths of Aphrodite
Located at Polis and the 'Fontana Amorosa' - Fountain of Love - also echo her apparent penchant for the island.
5 kilometers from Paphos, Lempa village can be singled out as one with historic significance. In its pretty setting near the sea. Today the faithful reconstruction of several dwellings, gives an insight into chalcolithic life on the island. Near the site replicas of two houses from this period have been constructed.
Paphos district archaeological Museums
In Kato Paphos, near the harbour - Open Mon-Sun 0730-1700
The inclusion of the Kato Paphos archaeological area in the World Heritage List in the 1980s ignited the idea of a General Plan whose main aim was the preservation and maintenance of the archaeological remains and to provide information to visitors. Artifacts from the middle Ages can be found in abundance, monuments are :-
The House of Mosaics
House of Dionysos, House of Theseus and House of Aion: The mosaic villas floors dated back to the 3rd and 5th century AD are considered among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean. The mosaics mainly depict scenes from Greek mythology.
A small 2nd century Odeon built entirely of well-hewn limestone blocks, it is now used in the summer for musical and theatrical performances. Nearby are the remains of the ancient city walls, the Roman Agora and a building dedicated to Asklipeios, god of medicine.
Built by the Lusignans at the beginning of the early 13th century on the site of a previous Byzantine castle. It was destroyed by an earthquake 1922.
Paphos Medieval Fort
Kato Paphos Harbour - Open Mon-Sun 0730-1700
The castle / fort built in the harbour area of Pafos by the Lusignans at the beginning of the l3th century, on the site of a previous Byzantine Castle. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1222. Kato Pafos harbour originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour, it was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the l3th century, dismantled by the Venetians in 1570 and rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island in the 16th century.
The museum hosts an attractive collection of objects from the Byzantine period including Byzantine icons from the 7th to 18th centuries, and the oldest icon found yet in Cyprus of the 7th or 8th century.
Tombs of the Kings
In Kato Paphos - Open Mon-Sun 0730-1700
These impressive underground tombs date back to the 4th century B.C. They are carved out of solid rock and spread over a vast area, some decorated with Doric pillars. High officials rather than Kings were buried here.
Another 'first' for Paphos was its early recognition of Christianity. While under Roman rule in 45 A.D., it was here that Saint Paul converted the first ruler to the faith.
Agai Solomoni Church
In Kato Paphos
Originally a Christian catacomb retaining 12th century frescoes. A sacred tree is believed to cure the ailments of those who hang a personal offering on its branches.
Panagia Limeniotissa Basilica
Built in the early 5th century ad dedicated to ‘Our Lady of the Harbour’, it was almost completely destroyed during the Arab raids.
Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church and early Christian Basilica
Built in the 13th century over the ruins of the largest Early Byzantine basilica on the island. Within the compound one can see St Paul’s Pillar,
where according to tradition Saint Paul was flogged before the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus was converted to Christianity.
Theoskepasti means ‘Veiled by God’. According to tradition, a fog was sent by God himself to protect the original church during the Arab raids.
The modern church was built in 1923.