history World Heritage Cultural Sites

Paphos: The birthplace of Aphrodite, the city of love

Seeing as though it is Valentine’s Day on Sunday it is only fitting for this week’s article to be all about a World Heritage site linked to romance and love. And what better than Paphos where the Greek goddess of love, fertility and beauty, Aphrodite, was born.

The myth surrounding the birth of the Greek goddess, the breath-taking archaeological sites and beautiful beaches makes Paphos, located in Cyprus, a coastal city to admire to say the least and it was made a World Heritage Site in 1980. 

The story of Aphrodite goes that she was born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus, after his son Cronus threw them into the sea. She emerged naked from the water around Cyprus after being created from the foam of the sea and originally begun drifting towards the Greek island of Cythera until the wind blew her towards her spiritual home near Paphos.

One of the rocks has been named Aphrodite Rock partly because of the foam being formed at its base. A local story is that anyone who swims around the rock will be blessed with eternal beauty.

In the 12th century BC a sanctuary for Aphrodite was built by the Mycenaeans in Kouklia Village. It remained a place of worship until the third and fourth centuries AD where devotees from the Cult of Aphrodite celebrated a deity dedicated to pleasure and fertility and took part in rituals in her honour. The village of Kouklia includes the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite and the site is linked to the Aphrodite Cultural Route, making Paphos a centre of the cult of Aphrodite and pre-Hellenic fertility deities. 

Not only does Paphos transport you to a world of Greek gods and goddesses but it also transports you to a different time with impressive and important archaeological sites. Kato Paphos Archeological Site is one of the most significant parts of the World Heritage Site. On the site are excavated monuments and discovered artefacts from the pre-historic period to the Middle Ages.

Among the most important remains that were excavated are four Roman period villas with mosaics of amazing craftsmanship with scenes from Greek mythology. You can also discover Saranta Kolones, a castle from the Byzantine period which was built in the 7th century A.C. and destroyed by an earthquake in 1223 A.C. 

Another incredible site is the Tombs of Kings, just north of Paphos. It was used from about the 4th century BC until the 3rd century AD as the burial place for the wealthy and powerful. The underground tombs were cut into the rock and decorated with columns and wall paintings.

Paphos, which has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, is filled with the remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and mosaic floors. The mosaics of Nea Paphos are considered amongst the finest specimens in the world as they cover the Hellenistic period to the Byzantine period. 

Not only is the city full of impressive archeology and architecture, it is a highly-renowned travel destination because of its beautiful beaches and breath-taking scenery.

Paphos is a World Heritage Site filled with the air of love, beauty and wonder and is a place with a rich, long and mythical history. An island and city I’m sure we would all love to be transported to right about now…


References:

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/79/

https://visitworldheritage.com/en/eu/pafos-paphos-cyprus/966d9645-f4b9-47aa-93e6-f294957f9600

https://visitworldheritage.com/en/eu/birthplace-of-aphrodite/d4a87816-4a22-44d0-adbd-695bf3ad7d52

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