Culture, Travel


Paphos in Greek Πάφος, is actually the name of two towns in the southwest of Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Old Paphos, also known today as Kouklia, the main residential area is away from the coast and the Hellenistic-Roman city of Paphos, also known as Kato Paphos, lies 16 km below on the seafront and is home to most of the luxury hotels, restaurants and tourist spots. Both together form the modern Paphos, considered to be the fourth-largest urban area on the island.

Cyprus was one of the important trading posts between Crete, Greece, the Levant and Egypt and is brimming with ancient history, rich culture and stunning scenery. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the island’s geographical location has always made it an object of desire, that saw numerous cultures come and go over the millennial. This is evidenced by the many remains of palaces, theaters, forts, villas and tombs which give Paphos an exceptional historical value. The mosaics discovered in Nea Paphos are said to be amongst the finest.


In 1980, Paphos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for its high archaeological value and the beauty of its architectural complex. In 2017, it became the first city in Cyprus to be awarded the title of European Capital of Culture. According to legend, it is here that the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, rose from the sea giving the city the cultural status of “the center of the Hellenic goddess of fertility”. The Mycenaean built a temple in her honor in the 12th century BC that was even mentioned in a poem of the Odyssey. The statuettes and amulets found on the site prove that not only the local inhabitants, but also the whole Aegean region worshiped Aphrodite.

Another myth surrounds the area around the church of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa. Legend has it that the Apostle Paul was tied to a stump of a pillar and flogged with 40 less 1 strokes for preaching Christianity before converting the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus to the Christian faith. This pillar is said to still exist in the courtyard today.

The coastal city can look back on a long, eventful history that began with the first settlements around 12,000 years ago. About 3,500 years ago, Cyprus was settled by the Mycenaean and in the sixth century BC conquered by the Persians. Alexander the Great then conquered the island in 328 BC with the entire Persian Empire. After his death, Cyprus was given to the Ptolemies, a Macedonian-Greek royal dynasty that ruled Ancient Egypt from 305 to 30 BC. The Greek rule lasted until 58 BC and brought great wealth to the city. It became one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean before the Romans expanded it, both culturally and architecturally, by building new streets and numerous buildings that remain places of interest today.

However, with the arrival of Christianity and the apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas in 46 AD Roman rule began to slowly crumble. Erratic years of unrest and conflicts between the Roman and Byzantine Empires followed.


Read the full article in Issue 17

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