Paphos - Gods' Playground
Capital of the West and positively teeming with history is Pafos, site of the
island's second international airport. The resort town has as its focal point
a charming fishing harbour by Paphos Fort, line with open-air cafes and tavernas
that serve a tempting menu of the day's catch.
It was on Pafos 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 just 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 Pafos 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 unrearthed, 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 District Archaeological Museum.
Yeroskipou 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 centuries.
Chrysorrogiatissa 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 to
the majestic Cedar Valley, home of the indigenous Cyprus horned sheep,
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 real delight for the walker and
The low-lying scenery around Pafos,much of it cultivated with banana plantations
and backed by the gentle foothills of the Western Troodos range, has an
attractively open quality to it. This is the gateway to the Peninsula of Akamas,
a natural wilderness of incredible beauty with breathtaking gorges, spectacular
coastlines and enjoyable nature trails.
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