Undergoing the recent transformation from a once sleepy fishing village to a main tourist destination, Cyprus, and Paphos especially has not lost its charm. Less visited than Limassol in the east but still more accessible than the Turkish occupied northern part of the island, Paphos is missed by the few traveller’s that venture to Cyprus. Situated in the Southwestern part of the island the city of Paphos has managed to maintain its countryside ambience and qualities winning UNESCO’s attention to pronounce the city as a World Heritage site. The city itself juts out from the Mediterranean onto the slopes of the nearby mountains where the whitewashed houses form small villages that add a striking contrast on the green tropical backdrop.
Due to its location in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus has been fought over, conquered, ceded and reconquered on many occasions over the last 8000 years or so. It is, after all, at a geographical crossroads only a hop, skip and jump from the Middle East. Because of this, Paphos has been littered with the remains of every era since the stone age, including 4th century underground tombs, exquisite mosaic floors of four Roman villas, a medieval fort, Byzantine castle and the Temple of Aphrodite – Greek goddess of love and beauty who according to myth was born here. It was here on the island of Cyprus that for the first time Saul or Tarsus was called Paul.
Rich in antiquities, here are some top places that are a must see:
House of Dionysos: It dates back to the 2nd century BC and is full of beautiful mosaics depicting Greek Mythology. In fact these mosaics are considered the most beautiful in all of the Mediterranean. Not much farther along the coast are the Tombs of the Kings. Kings a term being thrown around loosely, as these are the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials dating up to the third century AD. The tombs are unique because they are cut out of solid rock and feature Doric columns and Frescoed walls.
Byzantine church of Ayia Paraskevi: It was this small church that stole the show for me. Reaching near the outskirts of Paphos sits a small church built in the form of a Basilica with five cupolas in the shape of a cross. One of only two Byzantine churches found on the island, it boasts beautiful frescoes, some of which date back to the 9th century AD and are of the oldest in the whole of Cyprus. The frescoes are in relatively good condition, with its most important one representing the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Paphos and the countryside: If history isn’t your cup of tea, Paphos and the countryside have you covered with it’s quiet Mediterranean villages like the one we visited in Latchi, and the Anassa hotel that offers secluded beaches with spectacular sea views. If you don’t fancy a drive around the island then stay near the picturesque harbor filled with moored fishing boats and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many cafes while taking in the striking view of the Medieval Castle!