In the southwestern part of Cyprus, lies a coastal city of great historical importance, the city is Paphos. The ancient city of Paphos is a land of myth and legend. It has been inhabited since the Neolithic era and still bears several remnants of its glorious past.
The island is believed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Archaeologists state that the Myceneans built the temple of Aphrodite in the 12th century BC. According to Roman mythology, a
man named Pygmalion sculpted an ivory statue of a woman, named it Galatea and fell madly in love with it. He felt this emotion so intensely that he prayed to Venus, the goddess of love, for a damsel closely resembling his statue. Venus granted his wish and the statue came to life. The couple was blessed with a son, Paphos, after whom the city was named.
Paphos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds special historical and cultural significance. Also, it is a great place for religious tourism as the city contains many Christian monuments. In fact, Cyprus was the world’s first country to be run by a Christian governor. The city is divided into two areas – Kato Paphos (lower/coastal region) which encompasses the exquisite archaeological sites and Ktima (upper region) which is the residential area with markets, restaurants and some museums.
Paphos experiences a subtropical Mediterranean climate with long hot summers and short mild winters. June to September is the hottest time while December to February is the region’s coldest period. It usually rains in the winter months while heat waves are quite common during summers.
- Paphos Archaeological Park
The archaeological park contains many sites and monuments belonging to the period from New Stone Age to the Middle Ages. The most fascinating of all are the beautiful mosaic floors and decorations of the villas – House of Dionysos, House of Theseus, House of Aion, House of Orpheus and the House of Four Seasons. Then there are the catacombs of high officials, “Tombs of The Kings”; the Ancient Odeon in front of which lies the Agora; the Asklepieion, a sanctuary dedicated to Asklepios, the god of medicine; and the Saranta Kolones (Forty columns), which is a Byzantine castle built by the Lusignans.
- Aphrodite’s Rock
Petra Tou Romiou (Rock of the Greek) – Supposedly, this is where the Greek goddess rose from the sea and landed. It is prohibited to climb the rock but a legend says that if you swim around the rock (thrice) you will be blessed with eternal youth and beauty. According to another legend, Digenis Akritas, a Greek hero of the Byzantine period, attacked enemy ships with a rock and this rock is known as Petra Tou Romiou.
- Ayios Neophytos Monastery
Saint Neophytos was a Cypriot monk who founded this monastery in 1159. His cell contains some amazing frescos of the Byzantine period, painted by Theodoros Apsevdis, a Constantinopolitan painter. His rock-table, the slab he slept on and his grave are still kept in his cave. There is a church and museum, too. The terraces and gardens are lovely. The place possesses a tranquil atmosphere and will definitely grant you peace.
- Paphos Castle
This Byzantine fort was originally built to protect the harbor. It was rebuilt in the 13th century by the Lusignans after being wrecked by an earthquake. Since its creation it has been used as a stronghold, a prison and a warehouse. Currently, it serves as an event venue for the city’s annual open-air cultural fest. The top of the fort offers spectacular views of the city and the sea, especially during sunset.
- Ethnographical Museum
Founded by archaeologist George S Eliades in 1958, this family-owned museum has a rich collection of jewelry, coins, pottery, traditional costumes, utensils, ancient tools, ceramics, woodcarvings and other miscellaneous items. The museum acquaints you with the lifestyle and culture of the Cypriot people.
The Paphos Lighthouse, the AyiaSolomoni Church, Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, the Agios Georgios Museum are some other places that one must not miss during a visit to Paphos.
Shopping and Recreation
Paphos offers a plethora of leisure activities. You can go horse riding, play golf, football or tennis. If you want to explore the region in your own way then you can go hiking or cycling. Beach volley ball, bowling and karting are other fun activities you can indulge in. As far as water sports are concerned one can spend days just enjoying the action because there is water-skiing, canoeing, pedaling, wind-surfing, parascending, sailing, jet-skiing, etc. It’s a dreamland for divers for there are numerous diving sites where one can see and enjoy coral colonies, aquatic life, ancient ship wrecks and other rare amazing sights.
You can also go to the Paphos Bird and Animal Park or the Aphrodite Waterpark to have a good fun-filled day with family or friends.
In Paphos you can easily buy leather goods, pottery, handmade lace, silk, woven baskets, jewelry, porcelain, ceramics, glassware and other objects. The shops facing the harbor offer a large variety of goods and you will find almost everything there.
From state-of-the-art luxury hotels and spa resorts to comfortable and well-furnished budget hotels, Paphos, is full of accommodations that suit your needs and desires.
- Akti Beach Village Resort Hotel
This hotel provides you with a host of facilities. The rooms are large, airy and modernly furnished. Each room has a balcony, where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There is an outdoor and indoor pool, a tennis court, and a fine garden where you can stroll. There is a small beach, as well. The hotel organizes various entertainment programs like magic shows, etc. for its guests quite frequently.
- Elysium Hotel
This 5 star hotel offers unrivaled amenities and top-class service. It is ideally located in the Paphos city center from where you can easily access different parts of the city. There is a mini bar and balcony/terrace in every room. The guests can enjoy a relaxing massage or sauna, play tennis or take part in water sports. The dedicated staff is always doing its best to make sure that you have what you need at all times.
- Aloe Hotel
While staying at this prestigious hotel, you will have the chance to experience world-class service for your every wish will be instantly granted. The staff is amiable and goes to great lengths to make sure your stay is a pleasant one. You can buy some great stuff from the hotel shops, rent a bicycle or avail the services of a babysitter or concierge. There are tennis courts, swimming pools and also a playground for children.
- Pandream Apartments
These apartments are located quite close to the tourist area and the city center. The rooms are clean, spacious and well-furnished with attached kitchen. Nominally priced, the hotel features a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a sauna and jaccuzzi, tennis courts and other recreational facilities.
- Pyramos Hotel
This budget-hotel is located in the central part of Paphos. It may be a small hotel but still it has maintained high standards of quality. The staff is helpful, accommodating and takes good care of the guests. The rooms are well-lit and have balconies. The hotel offers various facilities to satisfy the needs of every guest. All in all, it’s a nice comfortable hotel with a good location and great service.
The history of Paphos may go as far back as the Stone Age, but the atmosphere of the city is as fresh as a daisy. On one side you can take a trip back into the past, on the other you can relish the gifts of the present. And you can do both in this city that Aphrodite would call home.