Paphos and Aphrodite
Paphos and Aphrodite
Paphos and Aphrodite
Paphos and Aphrodite
Duration: 8 hours
Paphos and Aphrodite
Aphrodite Tours, in their excursion to Paphos and Aphrodite, intend to take you into the world of Myths and Legends. We will start by going directly towards the ancient city of Paphos. Paphos is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the current capital of Paphos District. It had two identities, Palaepaphos (Old Paphos) of antiquity and the New Paphos of today. It lies on the Mediterranean coast, about 50 km (31 mi) west of Limassol, the biggest port on the island and connected by a highway. Paphos International Airport is the country's second largest airport. It enjoys a subtropical-Mediterranean climate, with the mildest temperatures on the island and has been selected as a European Capital of Culture for 2017, along with Aarhus. It is one of the places to see in Cyprus.
In the historical era of Classical Antiquity, Cyprus was a key spot for important political and religious functions. It was also a strategic base for trade in the Mediterranean. Consistently occupied throughout history, Cyprus has seen several strong powers such as the Assyrians, Egyptians, Macedonians and Romans. Its Roman era began with the advent of the Romans in 58 BC, completely so from 31 BC to the Byzantine Empire in the 4th century. This was because Marc Antony presented Cyprus to Cleopatra in 47BC which was retaken taken by Augustus in 31 BC. In 293 AD, Cyprus officially became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. According to the biblical Acts of the Apostles, the prophets and teachers Barnabas and Saul of Tarsus, travelled along the entire southern coast of the island of Cyprus until they reached Paphos. Saul was renamed Paul there (Acts 13:9). This trip may thus be called a religious tour.
Under Roman rule, Paphos was the capital of the island until Salamis was re-founded as Constantia in 346 AD. Near Palaepaphos, at the seaside of Petra tou Romiou, lies the modern mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, sensuality, sexual rapture and eternal youth. The founding myth is interwoven with the goddess at every level, so that Old Paphos became the most famous and important place for worshipping Aphrodite in the ancient world. Aphrodite is also known as Cypris (Lady of Cyprus). Sightseeing in Cyprus couldn’t have better mystique!
Even the town's name is linked to the goddess, as the eponymous Paphos was the son of Pygmalion, whose ivory cult image of Aphrodite was brought to life by the goddess as ‘milk-white’ Galatea. Pygmalion was so devoted to Aphrodite that he removed the statue to his palace and kept it on his couch. The daimon of the goddess entered the statue, and the living Galatea bore Pygmalion a son, Paphos. Cinyras, the son of Paphos, founded the city under the patronage of Aphrodite and built the great temple to the goddess there in the 12th century BC. There are still considerable ruins of New Paphos close to the sea, among which are the particularly remarkable remains of three temples which had been erected on artificial eminences. This is high on the agenda in Cyprus tours.
The remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and tombs of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods mean that the site is of exceptional architectural and historic value. Paphos houses the ruins of Roman governor's palace, where extensive, fine mosaics are a major tourist attraction. The town is included in the official UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures of the world's heritage.
Our first stop en route to Paphos is the ancient city-state of Kourion, which lies in the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia but is maintained and administrated by the Republic of Cyprus according to the Treaty of Establishment. The city has a very large Agora (market place) and you can find an early Christian Basilica as well within the city walls. Furthermore, large public baths which were equipped with cold, warm and hot spas were built. The large amphitheater seats 2000 spectators and held mostly gladiator games in the city; there is also a Palestra or a training place for gladiators.
The ruins of Kourion, near the modern town of Episkopi, is located on one of the most fertile spots in the island, with extensive ruins and well-preserved mosaics. First settled in by the Mycenaeans, the city peaked in Roman times, as evidenced by remnants of the empire such as its great stadium, theatre and lavish public baths. As in many of Cyprus’s great ancient cities, the cults of Aphrodite and Apollo thrived here, and both of these Hellenistic deities have shrines here. Wandering through Kourion’s ruins, it is not hard to imagine the city as it must once have been: a jewel of Rome’s eastern possessions, until its destruction by an earthquake in 365 AD. A fitting riposte to what to see in Cyprus.
The whole city has beautiful floor mosaics, but the majority are found in the house of Achilles and the private bath of the founder of the city. The Roman Nymphaeum near Kourion is one of the biggest and the most impressive monuments of its kind in the Mediterranean. It was dedicated to the Nymphs, the protectors of water. It consisted of an enormous central edifice, constructed with big hewn limestone blocks. It was built in the 1st century AD and remodelled several times later.
Also of interest are the public baths, the necropolis, the Fountain House, the House of Gladiators and the House of Achilles. The most spectacular site at Kourion is the Greco-Roman theatre, or forum, that has been completely restored (with the Mediterranean as a backdrop) and is used today for open air musical and theatrical performances. It is one of the venues for the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama. This ranks high amongst tourist attractions in Cyprus.
We will then proceed to Paphos. The best places to visit in and near Paphos are:
On this Aphrodite Tours sojourn, enough free time has been reserved for walking to the quay or dinner. Tired from the walking around, we will bathe at the most romantic birthplace of Goddess Aphrodite. As the legend says, each person who cleanses him/herself in this place will find wonderful transformations taking place; youth and beauty comes back to the women, and the men become strong and bold. Indulge in photos and bathing in magic water. Yet another of the places to see in Cyprus.
Note: Dinner is not included in the cost of this excursion in Cyprus. Wear casual clothes. Remember to bring along bathing suits and towels. Entrance ticket to Dionysos’ house is not included in the cost of this excursion, and is paid in addition on requests by tourists.
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I chose the Larnaca-Nicosia & St. Thekla Monastery trip offered by Aphrodite Tours. A practising Christian, I was amazed to hear about and see the resurrection of Lazarus as related with a personal touch by the guide. The Church of St. Lazarus was marvellous; part of the sacred relics of the Saint were discovered just forty odd years ago! Stavrovouni was breathtaking as was the small village of Meniko, where the remnants of the tomb of St.Thekla were kept. The story of Church Panagia Chrysospiliotissa in a natural cave consecrated in honour of Virgin Chrysospiliotissa was very moving. I’m glad I took this tour and I am grateful to Aphrodite Tours for this edifying trip.
My husband and I opted for Aphrodite’s Tours excursion to the Donkey Farm at Kelokedara Paphos. The concept is noble and the entire package wonderful. The local delicacies like sushukko washed down with Zivania warmed us up for the ride which was most enjoyable. The meal on return was delicious. The whole package was invigorating and exciting. I’ve framed my Diploma! Thank you, Aphrodite Tours, for suggesting this diversion.