A mysterious blend of Greek, Assyrian, Persian, Roman, and Turkish influence, it’s no wonder Cyprus is rife with so many ancient villages, archaic ruins, and medieval castles for tourists to explore. The past has certainly proven eclectic for this island country, and the historic attractions of Cyprus paint a pictures of the island’s diverse and volatile history. Ahead, a look at the attractions of Paphos, a city on the southwest coast of Cyprus.
WHERE TO STAY
There’s no way you came all the way to picturesque Paphos to stay in a generic hotel found everywhere else in the world. Save that for Tokyo! In Paphos, you’re going to want to snag yourself a villa and we can’t think of a better nominee than Sea Point Villas. The luxurious Coral Bay Villas (with private Olympic sized pools – oh the decadence!) are centrally located, with guests being able to travel to Paphos’s stunning medieval castle and harbour in minutes. With tennis courts, golf courses and even a scuba diving spot just 200m away, you will never have a moment of boredom at your charming Cyprus villa.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Dating from the 3rd to the 5th century AD, this place is home to the best Roman mosaics in the Mediterranean region. They were discovered by a farmer in 1962 while farming his land. History fans will love this place – there are plaques which give a brief description of the content of the mosaics but if you’re interested in detailed information then it’s worth spending a few euros on a guidebook at the entrance gate.
St Paul’s Pillar
Just across the road from the mosaics you will see St Paul’s Pillar. Many believe this is where the apostle was tied and given 39 lashes back in 45 AD. This was before he finally converted Roman governer Sergius Paulus to Christianity.
This plaque is also close by and marks the spot where the king of Denmark died on his way to the Holy land in 1103. Next to St Paul’s Pillar is the remains of the Frankish baths – one of the few Frankish buildings that has survived earthquakes and Turkish rule in Cyprus.
Agia Solomonis Catacombs
A 5 minute stroll along Leoforos Apostolou Pavlou road will lead you to Agia Solomoni Catacomb Church. This is the final resting place of the seven local Machabee Brothers, who were martyred and buried here roughly 2,200 years ago.
The site is small and easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.
Tombs of the Kings
A 30 minute walk or 5-10 minute bus ride from the harbour area is the impressive underground Tombs of the Kings, carved out of solid rock and dating back to the 4th century BC. The name is misleading as the tombs contain the remains of Paphos VIPs and not royalty but this doesn’t detract from the overall impression.
The bodies would have been buried with gifts, ornaments and jewellery but the tombs have been looted extensively over the years. Any finds can now be found in the Paphos Archaeological Museum
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
This site houses impressively preserved mosaic floors depicting scenes from Greek mythology. The mosaics cover 14 former rooms over a huge area of almost 5985 sq. ft. Considered to contain some of the most intact and beautiful ancient mosaics in the Eastern Mediterranean, Paphos Mosaics is a “must” stop for anyone in Paphos. Each mosaic depicts something different, whether an act by a Greek god or goddess, a blessing for the home, or a scene from a mythological story.
Acropolis & Odeon
Built in the second century, this is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus. To the south of the Odeon lie the remains of a Roman temple for the God Of Medicine, Asclepius. There is also an impressive amphitheater that stages live performances.
Around 45-60 minutes drive from Paphos centre is the undeveloped, natural beauty of The Akamas peninsula. This is a great spot for hiking with several well-marked trails. Two such trails start from the Baths of Aphrodite, a crystal clear pool and bubbling spring where legend has it that Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love used to bathe. There is free parking, a restaurant and entry is free of charge.
Speaking of restaurants……………
WHERE TO EAT
YIALOS TAVERNA ON THE SEA
Excellent food and ambience (try the meze on a Sunday!). Yialos is a tavern located on the sea front, where you can enjoy amazing sunsets with drinks in summer. Excellent food with reasonable prices, a lovely sea side location. If you are looking for a Sunday lunch or a dinner by the sea, this is highly recommended. Greek evenings with live dancing takes place every Thursday night. Bookings for Thursday’s is highly recommended.
ONIRO BY THE SEA
Right next to a ship wreck in the Sea Caves area, just after Coral Bay. The shipwreck is right in front of this tavern. Lovely for sundowners, especially at sunset. If you are looking for an unusual wedding ceremony, the Peyia Municipality will wed you at the shipwreck.
This is a typical Cypriot Tavern situated in Peyia, a short 5 min drive from our villas. Enjoy an excellent meze or suckling pig on specific days. Live Greek dancing is also a must see on Friday nights. Good food at reasonable prices.