Enter another world, where idols and temples, graves and goddesses make up the
fabric of everyday life.Pafos is where Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and
beauty, is said to have risen from the waves that crash on its shores. Petra
tou Romiou, or Aphrodite’s Rock, is a massive chunk of stone that marks
the spot. Her birthplace was a place of pilgrimage for the entire Hellenic world.
Aphrodite’s presence seems to have drawn other divinities and notable mortals
as well. Excavations have unearthed the spectacular 3rd -5th century-mosaics
of the Houses of Dionysus, Orpheus, and Aion, and the Villa of Theseus — buried
for sixteen centuries and yet remarkably intact. Their grace of line and subtlety
of color will surely inspire elevated feelings in those who see them. Also in
this region is the Odeon Theater, a stone structure still used as it was in ancient
times for outdoor concerts, plays, and games. Small wonder then that the whole
town of Pafos is included in the official UNESCO list of cultural and natural
treasures of world heritage.
Past Polis and Latsi, the Baths of Aphrodite provided the ancients with a dramatic
setting for outdoor bathing. The Fontana Amorosa, or fountain of love, still
bubbles forth nearby. Is it simply water... or Aphrodite’s fabled love
Later periods of history have also left their traces. The Tombs of the Kings,
in Kato Pafos, is a monumental honeycomb structure carved into sheer rock whose
vaults held the tombs of Ptolemy period nobles. Nearby, the stone pillar where
St. Paul, according to tradition, was bound and beaten for preaching Christianity
thrusts heavenward. The Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery was founded in the 12th
century A.D. and is dedicated to “Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate.” The
neighboring monastery of Agios Neofytos contains some of the world’s
finest Byzantine frescoes and icons as well as an interesting Byzantine museum.
Archaeological discoveries in the Pafos region are continual, making it a
highlight for those tracing civilization’s roots in Cyprus. For a glimpse
of the artifacts and masterworks found in the area, visit the District Archeological
Returning to the 20th century, enjoy a cool drink, a steaming Cypriot coffee,
or a meal of just-caught seafood in one of the tavernas that dot the scenic
harborside in the town of Pafos. Hotels for every taste and budget can be
found in town and the surrounding area. Use them as your home base for discovering
this rich region.