Paphos - the Birthplace of Aphrodite
Paphos is a Mediterranean coastal town on the southwest corner of Cyprus. Palaepaphos or old Paphos which is now the area of Kouklia has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. This area was the centre of the cult of Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and old Paphos was the most important place of worship for the goddess in the ancient world. Archeologically there are findings of this cult as far back in time as 700BC and in 391AD when the Romans inhabited the island. The remains of the sanctuary of Aphrodite are still discernible today. New Paphos or NEA Paphos was founded near a natural harbor about 12 kilometers northwest of the old city. There are silver coins in the Cyprus museum that were found in this area that date back to the end of the 4th century BC.
The Paphos Archeological Park has important ancient Greek and Roman ruins. The whole of Paphos has been named a UNESKO World Heritage site because of its unique ancient ruins. The most significant ruins to be discovered so far are the four houses, Dionysos, Orpheus, Aion and Theseus which were unearthed after 16 centuries of being buried underground. These archeological finds still show superbly preserved mosaic floors and the magnificent Tomb of the Kings. Other significant archeological sites are the Kourion and St. Paul’s pillar. The city has many catacomb sites dating back to early Christianity. The most well-known is St. Solomoni Church which was originally a catacomb which to this day has 12th century frescoes. There is a tree at the entrance which has hundreds of pieces of material and other objects hanging from its branches. These were hung by believers who believed that their ailments would be cured with this offering.
One cannot mention Paphos without making reference to the rock of Aphrodite or Petra tou Romiou in Greek which literally means Stone of the Greeks. This huge stone emerges from the sea a few kilometers out of Paphos town. This is a strikingly picturesque area which according to Greek mythology is the place were Aphrodite rose from the sea. Anyone can visit this area and even go for a swim. The Aphrodite Hills resort and the five star Intercontinental hotel have been built in this area. There is also a huge golf course that is enjoyed by golf enthusiasts.
North east of Paphos is the St. Neophytos Monastery. It is definitely worth visiting as it is a well maintained area with a lot of history behind it. The enclosure which was carved out by the saint himself is where he lived as a hermit. It boasts some of the finest Byzantine frescoes from the 12th and 15th century Cyprus has many ancient churches that are rich in history and many of these are found in the Paphos area. Paphos has a lot to offer, whether it is history you are looking the sun and sea, or even a trip to the forested mountains, you will find what you are looking for in Paphos that is for sure.
Although Paphos was considered a major attraction and administrative centre in antiquity, it lost this status after the founding of Nicosia. This decline continued through the ages as other towns gained popularity. Up to 1974 which saw the Turkish invasion devastate Cyprus, Paphos was the most underdeveloped town in Cyprus. After 1974 Paphos had a rapid economic growth due to the division of the island and the hundreds of thousands of refugees of which some settled in Paphos. The government invested heavily in this area and Kato Paphos became an important tourist attraction. Eventually this led to the building of the Paphos International Airport which was built to accommodate tourism to the island.
Other areas in Paphos that were developed Coral Bay which is a seaside resort in its own right and Aphrodite Hills resort was built just out of Paphos near the Rock of Aphrodite. Paphos has grown in leaps and bounds since then and is today a beautiful seaside city that caters for all types of holiday and relaxation that any visitor could possible want. The harbor in Kato Paphos is built around the ancient medieval port and Castle. Paphos has gone through major positive restructuring around the city centre over the last two years in preparation for the prestigious European Capital of Culture 2017. Thousands of visitors visited the city during this year to enjoy the cultural events that are unique to Paphos. These changes in preparation for this event have had the result of adding new restaurants and shops to the city centre which are enjoyed by residents and visitors of Paphos alike. Tourism is the main income for the city of Paphos, followed by banana, grape and tobacco cultivation.