Capital of the west and positively teeming with history is Paphos, site of the island’s second international airport. The resort town has as its focal point a charming fishing harbour by Paphos Fort, lined with open-air cafes and tavernas that serve a tempting menu of the day’sIt was on Paphos shoreline that the mythological Goddess Aphrodite was born, a legend that spawned a massive wave of cult worship from neighbouring countries that lasted several centuries. The large rock that juts from the sea is known as ‘Petra tou Romiou‘ – The Venus Rock – while the Baths of Aphrodite at Polis also echoes her apparent penchant for the island. At Palaepaphos, Kouklia lie the remains of the Goddess’ earliest Sanctuary.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.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 worth visiting 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 its Archaeological Museum.
Places of Interest
Geroskipou with its remarkable five-domed Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi, and its Folk Art Museum is a village known for many years now for its special delight ‘loukoumi’.
Agios Neofytos Monastery, famous for its ‘Encleistra’, Enclosure, carved out of the mountain by the hermit himself, boasts some of the finest Byzantine frescoes of the 12th and 15th cent urn’s. Cbrvsorrogiatissa Monastery makes its own range of wines using homegrown grapes. A small museum dedicated to Archbishop Makarios, first president of Cyprus, is found at Pano Panagia.
From here it is a rewarding drive o the majestic Cedar Valley, home of the indigenous Cyprus horned sheep, the moufflon.
Lempa village can be singled out as one with particular historic significance. In its pretty setting near the sea, Lempa’s link with prehistory is the site of a chalcolithic settlement. Today the faithful reconstruction of several dwellings, gives an insight into chalcolithic life on the island.
Further north lies the resort-town of Polis, overlooking the beautiful Chrysochou Bay with its charming fishing refuge of Latsi. The relatively unspoilt state of the countryside and villages make the area a delight for the walker and naturalist.
The low-lying scenery around Paphos, much of it cultivated with banana plantations and backed by the gentle foothills of the western Troodos range, has an attractively open quality to ii. ! liis is tlie gateway to the Peninsula of Akamas, a natural wilderness of incredible beauty with breathtaking gorges, spectacular coastlines and enjoyable nature trails.
The whole town of Paphos is included in the official UNESCO list of the cultural and natural treasures of the world heritage. Wherever one treads in Paphos one comes across its glorious history which dates back thousands of years, when the cult of Goddess Aphrodite who emerged from its seas, flourished in this beautiful part of the world attracting many visitors from inland and abroad.
Today it is a growing harbour town, but in Hellenistic and Roman times it was the capital of Cyprus. Still under the spell other Beauty-Goddess, the area retaining her magic, has remained intact by time. It seduces its visitor with its majestic landscape, lovely coastline, historical treasures and delightful villages where tradition is still a way of life. Kept in harmony with nature are divine mediaeval monasteries which lie peacefully in the Paphos heartland.
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