Paphos in Cyprus - tourism, sightseeing & tips

The port city of Paphos, on the west coast of Cyprus, is a historic city with a glorious history dating back over thousands of years. The city, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, was the capital of Cyprus in the Hellenistic and Roman eras. The history of the city dates back to the 4th century. When the cult of the goddess Aphrodite, who rose from the sea, flourished, the city attracted visitors from all over the world to this region. Make a pilgrimage to her shrine at Kouklia and visit the grotto at Polis where Aphrodite bathed. According to legend, this is where the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the waves of the sea.

In the meantime Paphos has become a popular vacation resort. Visit the idyllic harbor or the medieval fort and admire the beautiful floor mosaics of the ancient Roman villas in the House of Dionysus with scenes from Greek mythology.

The royal tombs at Paphos date back to early BC and were once hewn from hard rock. In places, Doric columns support the ceilings. As to the original use of the tombs, it has not yet been possible to obtain any precise information. It is possible that they were also used as graves by Christian inhabitants.

paphos port during sunset

The history of Paphos

The port city of Paphos, today inhabited by about 33,000 people and whose settlement goes back archaeologically to the Bronze Age, was conquered and ruled by Greeks, Ottomans and Persians. They all left their traces. The city was founded around 1400 BC and a little later it was annexed to the Ptolomean Empire.
An inscription on the Kition Stele, discovered in 1845 in Kition near Larnaka, is considered one of the first historical mentions of Paphos and dates back to the time of the Assyrian king Asarhaddon, who lived from 680 to 669 BC.

Sights in the surroundings of Paphos

The landmark of Paphos, which rises out of the sea like a rock, is the medieval castle. The castle is located directly at the harbor. It was built in 1592.
To explore the ancient world, the Pafos Archaeological Park, which makes up one third of the ancient city, is a must for visitors! During a tour of the park, whose remains are of structures dating from the Hellenistic-Roman period from 300 BC to 400 AD, the well-preserved mosaic floors are a special attraction. From small outside towers one has a very clear view of these works of art from villas, which testify to the former prosperity of the city and are part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage. The Greek amphitheater, in the round of which the history can be well imagined, also tells about the cultural quality of the city at that time. Even today, this amphitheater is used for live events.
The royal tombs of Nea Paphos were also included in the World Heritage List in 1980. They date back to the 3rd century BC, when the Ptolemies ruled the island of Cyprus. They were used as burial sites for the Cypriot aristocrats until about 300 AD.

The 13th century early Christian basilica, built over the largest early Byzantine basilica on the island, with the Pauline Column in its forecourt, was once a place where - according to legend - the apostle was flogged, who later introduced Christianity to the Roman governor Sergius Paul.
The old town is a sight in itself. There, the local market offers fruits, vegetables and typical local foods, as well as jewelry and products of the local arts and crafts.
You can go even further back in time at the District Archaeological Museum, which presents gold jewelry from the 15th century BC as well as Roman glass and other finds. When it comes to ancient fashion, the Byzantine Museum provides information. In addition to icons from the 12th to 18th centuries and numerous liturgical utensils, vestments are also on display there. And a private museum, housed in a villa built in 1984, you can see typical Cypriot objects of everyday life, as they were common in this country in past centuries.
And the beach at the rock Petra Tou Romiou is worth a detour anyway. "Exactly" there the goddess is said to have risen from the sea.

The grotto, where Aphrodite is said to have bathed once and the water still promises "eternal youth" when touched, is at least worth a try. The grotto of Aphrodite at Latsi is easily accessible and the adjacent nature reserve is an excellent opportunity to combine the excursion with a short hike through a varied and highly amazing landscape.
Also worth seeing are many small, unnamed sights: the open-air modern art, for example, created on the occasion of the 2017 Capital of Culture, the revitalized alleys of the old town and much more.

Sights & tourist attractions in Pafos

District Archaeological Museum

The museum contains collections of Cypriot antiquities from excavations in the area and date back to the Neolithic period, about 1700 B.C. One of the most interesting exhibits is a set of surgical instruments and a rare statue of Aphrodite.

Kato Paphos Archaeological Park

The archaeological complex of Kato Pafos is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and contains sites and monuments dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Mosaic floors of four Roman villas form the core of the finds along with other monuments such as the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the Odeion, the Agora, the Forty Columns Castle, the Basilica of Panagia Limeniotissa and the Royal Tombs.

archaeological sight of kato paphos

Agia Solomoni Church

Agia Solomoni Church is a Christian catacomb that still contains some frescoes from the 12th century. The mosaic floors in the church, dating from the 3rd to 5th centuries, are the most beautiful in the entire Mediterranean. It is said that the sacred tree at the entrance cures the ills of those who hang an offering in its branches.

Byzantine Museum

The museum contains collections from the Byzantine period, such as icons from the 7th to the 18th century, carvings, metalwork, weavings, vestments, embroideries and much more. Here you can also find one of the oldest icons of St. Marina from the 7th century.

The royal tombs

The underground tombs were cut or carved into the solid rock around the 4th century BC. However, instead of kings, high officials and local dignitaries were buried here. Due to the stateliness of the tombs, however, they were given the name royal tombs, which today are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hamam Baths

The baths date back to the Ottoman period and were in operation until the 1950s. The building is a stone vault consisting of three units: the reception room, a changing room and the actual baths. Today the building serves as a cultural center for the city of Pafos.

Paphos Medieval Fort

The medieval fort in Paphos, originally built, was intended to protect the port. Later in the 13th century it was rebuilt by the Lusignans and dismantled by the Venicians in 1570. It was not rebuilt until the 16th century by the Ottomans who occupied the island.

Paphos Odeon

The Odeon of Paphos is a small 2nd century odeon built of limestone blocks. In summer it was used for musical events or theater performances. Here today you can see the remains of the ancient city walls, the Roman Agora and a building dedicated to the god of medicine Asclepius.

Temple of Aphrodite and Museum of Ancient Paphos

In Kouklia, about 14 km east of Pafos lies one of the most famous pilgrimage sites of the Greek world and one of the city-kingdoms of the island of Cyprus. Here you can admire the remains of the sanctuary of Aphrodite. Some of the oldest remains date back to the 12th century BC. The temple itself remained a well-known place of worship and pilgrimage until the 4th century.
The museum is housed in the medieval fort of the Lusignans next to the temple of Aphrodite. It contains finds from the area, dating from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, from the cult of Aphrodite to the cult of the goddess of fertility.
The temple is part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route.

Chlorakas

On the beach of Chlorakas is the boat of St. George, which was used to transport explosives during the freedom struggle 1955-1959.

The Bath of Aphrodite - Akamas

In the northwest of Cyprus lies the Akamas peninsula, named after the Athenian hero Akamas, son of Theseus, who landed here after the Trojan War. Akamas is a natural landscape with unique biotopes and ecosystems. There are more than 500 plant species and beautiful valleys, gorges and caves. Between Polis Chrysochous and Cape Arnaoutis lies the so-called Bath of Aphrodite. The goddess is said to have always taken her bath here in a lake in a grotto and met the handsome Adonis. According to legend, Aphrodite first swam in the crystal clear bay and then later took her bath in the lake. The place is a stop on the Aphrodite Cultural Route.

Lemba

In the village of Lemba, 5 km north of Pafos important settlements of the Copper Age have been discovered. Here you can get an idea of the construction of the Copper Age (3900 - 2500 BC) through the faithful reconstruction of five huts. This settlement is located on Aphrodite's cultural route.

Petra tou Romiou

Petra tou Romiou (Stone of the Greek) is one of the most beautiful beaches of Cyprus, where, according to legend, Aphrodite rose from the waves. The beach is located on the road between Pafos and Limassol, about 25 km from Pafos. According to the legend, the rock was created by the legendary hero Digenis Akritas. He is said to have hurled a rock from the Keryneia mountain of Pendadaktylos at the Saracens who wanted to land on the coast during the Arab invasions in the 7th-10th centuries. Since then, this rock is located on this coast and gave the place the name Petra tou Romiou. This place is also part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route.

Paphos as Capital of Culture 2017

Although the financial crisis has also put a spanner in the works for Cyprus, Paphos was nevertheless determined to put on cultural highlights with a lot of initiative and numerous volunteers. In the media one could already read about the "charm of modesty". The fact is that no superlatives can be found here like in other large metropolises that have already presented themselves as cultural capitals. There is only one thing: Paphos has become the poorest Capital of Culture in history due to the financial crisis. A great challenge to make a virtue out of necessity!
Throughout the cultural year, the city has organized more than 300 events. Renowned guests, such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, are coming. The show "One Touch of Venus and Others" features Ute Lemper. The whole city is inevitably affected by the events, because most of them are held outdoors. Art exhibitions with works by local artists are also mostly outdoors. The main theme in the works is the mythical past of Paphos. After all, Aphrodite is the goddess who inspired the artists.
And when the Aphrodite Festival takes place for the 19th time in September, Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio" can be experienced in a magnificent setting in the amphitheater.
One thing is for sure: the city does not score with elitist buildings, the ancient ones excepted, it attracts with very warm temperatures until late autumn to stay outside and experience the city and its people.

You can go even further back in time at the District Archaeological Museum, which presents gold jewelry from the 15th century BC as well as Roman glass and other finds. When it comes to ancient fashion, the Byzantine Museum provides information. In addition to icons from the 12th to 18th centuries and numerous liturgical utensils, vestments are also on display there. And a private museum, housed in a villa built in 1984, you can see typical Cypriot objects of everyday life, as they were common in this country in past centuries.
And the beach at the rock Petra Tou Romiou is worth a detour anyway. "Exactly" there the goddess is said to have risen from the sea.
The grotto, where Aphrodite is said to have bathed once and the water still promises "eternal youth" when touched, is at least worth a try. The grotto of Aphrodite at Latsi is easily accessible and the adjacent nature reserve is an excellent opportunity to combine the excursion with a short hike through a varied and highly amazing landscape.
Also worth seeing are many small, unnamed sights: the open-air modern art, for example, created on the occasion of the 2017 Capital of Culture, the revitalized alleys of the old town, and much more.

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