Playground of the Gods

It has been said that Cyprus was the playground of the Gods and that it was from the seas around Paphos that the Greek goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite is said to have risen. The beautiful coastline is just the beginning. The city port of Paphos boasts magnificent mosaics and archaeological sites and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Kato Paphos Archaeological Park displays mosaic floors found in the excavated Houses of Dionysos, Theseus, Aeon and Orpheus date from the 2nd to 5th century AD depicting scenes from Greek mythology. They are considered to be the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean and you only have to see them to know why.

The exquisite Roman floor mosaics show mythical tales and scenes of everyday Roman life. The archaeological park is still under excavation and offers wonderful raised platform facilities for viewing these incredible works.

The Tombs of the Kings is a site very nearby and really worth having a wander through. These 4th century underground tombs are amazingly carved out of solid rock and were the resting places of high ranking officials and aristocrats. Some of the tombs feature Doric pillars and others frescoed walls.

A very special atmosphere exists at the Temple of Apollo Hylates. It’s hard to ignore the tranquility of the site that covers 15,000 square meters. Hylates was worshipped on the island and likened to the Greek god Apollo. The surviving remnants seen today date back to the 1st century BC and include remains of the temple and partial buildings.

One site that should not be overlooked is the Basilica-St Paul. According to the Apostles in the New Testament, St Paul preached in Cyprus and was tortured there. Accounts state that he was tied to this pillar and lashed. However, the bible nor Paul’s letters mention any mistreatment while in Cyprus.

The remains at the ancient city of Kourion, near Episkopi on the south-western coast is perhaps the most amazing and beautiful of all the sites in the vicinity of Paphos. It comprises an extensive complex of Byzantine and Roman ruins with amazing views over the sea. Mosaic floors and a bathing complex that provided hot baths are just some of the marvels at this site.

The site’s centrepiece built in the 2nd century BC, is the magnificent Greco-Roman theatre. It has now been restored and used for open air musical and theatrical performances. The setting is stunning.

Although small in size Paphos is big on the experiences it offers. Follow the lead of Aphrodite and you won’t go wrong.