Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Paphos
The undisputed highlight of the Paphos Archaeological Park, the House of Dionysos is the largest of a series of four Roman villas, nicknamed the ‘Mosaic Houses’ for their elaborate floor mosaics. The impressive artworks were painstakingly crafted from limestone tiles and date back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD, remaining hidden until 1962, when they were discovered by a local farmer.
Today, the famous mosaics have been restored to much of their former glory and cover 556 square-meters with colorful depictions of Greek gods and mythology. At the House of Dionysus, the show-stopping centerpiece portrays Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine, returning from India on a chariot drawn by two panthers, while other mosaics show Apollo and Daphne, a Ganymede being taken back to Olympus on the wings of an eagle and a number of hunting scenes.
A sprawling open-air museum stretching along the coastal cliffs west of Paphos harbor, the UNESCO-listed Paphos Archaeological Park is home to some of Cyprus’ most impressive historic ruins, including monuments dating from prehistoric times.
The majority of the ruins date back to the late Roman period, with highlights including the Asklipion, a hospital and temple dedicated to the God of Medicine, Asklipios; the 2nd century Agora; the remains of Saranta Kolones, a Byzantine castle known for its 40 columns; and the ancient Odeon amphitheater, which still hosts theatric and music performances during the summer months. Most memorable are the series of four Roman Villas, namely the House of Theseus, House of Aion, House of Dionysos, House of Orpheus, which are famous for their exquisite floor mosaics, impressively restored and depicting scenes from Greek and Roman mythology.
Largely regarded as one of Cyprus’ most beautiful churches, the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church, now the Agia Kryiaki Church, is renowned for its elaborate ancient floor mosaics, parts of which have been preserved and form a colorful addition to the medieval church.
Built on the site of an early Byzantine basilica, the church dates back to the 13th-century and forms the centerpiece of number of historic ruins and relics, among them the remains of a Gothic Basilica, a mosque dating back to the period Ottoman ruleand St Paul’s Pillar, where legend has it that Paul was flogged for preaching Christianity in 45 AD.
More Things to Do in Paphos
Looming over the Paphos Archaeological Site, Fabrica Hill once marked the northern entrance to ancient Paphos and today serves as a scenic lookout point, offering impressive views over the numerous Roman ruins, Saint Paul's Pillar and the glittering Mediterranean coast.
The main attraction of Fabrica Hill is the ancient Odeon amphitheater built on its slope, a striking limestone structure dating back to the 2nd-century, where music concerts and theatrical performances are held throughout the summer months. Also of interest are a number of quarry caves dating from the Hellenistic period, a partially restored ancient mosaic and the nearby Agia Solomoni Catacombs.
A looming stack of rocks standing proud off the southwest coast of Cyprus, the UNESCO-listed Rock of Aphrodite, or Petra Tou Romiou (Rock of the Greek), is one of the island’s most famous landmarks and a popular side trip from nearby Paphos. Guarding the coastline since ancient times, Aphrodite’s Rock is more than just a geological wonder. The sacred rock takes its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, who is said to have to have risen from the ocean at this spot, and legend has it that in certain weather conditions, the waves rising and breaking against the rock create a cloud of sea foam that appears in the shape of a human.
Today the striking birthplace of Aphrodite is one of Cyprus’ top natural attractions and part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route, with visitors following the walking trail from the neighboring Kouklia beach or taking a boat trip along the coast.
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