Tread in the footsteps of Gods, channel your inner Adonis and Aphrodite, and create your own myth by exploring these wonders of Paphos, Southwest Cyprus.
- The House of Dionysus
Dionysus is the Greek god of fruitfulness, wine, and excess, and the House of Dionysus is located in the Paphos Archaeological Park. The Hellenistic style of the house suggests it was built around the end of the 2nd century, and was destroyed during the earthquakes at the beginning of the 4th century. It boasts well-preserved mosaics across the floors which depict myths and legends from the era, including the oldest mosaic floor in Cyprus. The house consists of a peristyle atrium with a garden pool, communal rooms and halls, many of which are decorated with multicoloured geometric and decorative motifs.
- The House of Theseus
Similarly to The House of Dionysus, the Villa of Theseus is a 2nd century Hellenistic building, however archaeologists believe it was inhabited well into the 7th century. It boasts over 100 rooms, including three galleries around the central patio. You can trace the mythic king through the stories depicted in the mosaics, such as Theseus fighting the Minotaur, other depictions of Poseidon and Amfiti, and the first bath of the new-born Achilles.
- Avakas Gorge
If you’re looking for more natural history, a highly recommended day out is the Avakas Gorge. Amidst the Akamas Peninsula, carved out of the limestone over thousands of years,
the gorge walk is perfect for a family day out. You’ll need comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting wet, a packed lunch and lots of water. You’ll find all sorts of flora and fauna, including the endangered Centaurea Akamantis which can only be found in Cyprus. There are information boards along the walk to show you what you can find amongst the flowers and in the rock.
- Paphos Castle
The iconic Medieval castle, backdropped by the picturesque Mediterranean Sea and the marina, has been used as a prison, and a salt house over the years. Built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour, it has been destroyed by the Venetians, and restored by the Ottomans. With such a fascinating history, this listed building represents a distinctive history for the city of Paphos. Part museum, there are several thematic exhibits to explore and the castle becomes the backdrop for the annual open air Paphos cultural festival every September. (Currently, there is no wheelchair access.)
- Tomb of Kings
Two kilometres of the harbour is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Tomb of Kings. These are underground tombs, dating back to the 4th Century BC, carved from solid rock. They are believed to be the last resting place of Paphitic aristocrats (so not real kings unfortunately) however, the tombs feature Doric columns and frescoed walls. Systematic excavations have continued for the last forty years, and the discoveries of Amphora (the Greek and Roman jugs) suggest offerings were left in a burial.
- Saint Neophystos Monastery
One of the best-known monasteries in Cyprus, this building dates back to the 12th century. It includes a museum, a natural cave, and a small chapel which you can visit, with stunning architecture and views of Cyprus. The monastery is carved into the rock face Neophystos first settled as a hermit, but has been expanded upon and decorated by several generations since then. The monks who still reside there have their documented history available to educate visitors. There is also a Venetian-inspired Basilica which archaeologists believe was built during the 16th century which has been decorated with wall paintings and icons.
- St Paul’s Pillar
Saint Paul’s Pillar is believed to from the 16th century, and the Anglican Church still resides within the building today, and was built neighbouring the ancient ruins of the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Basilica (an Early Christian Basilica and the largest Byzantine basilica in Cyprus) and the Gothic Church. Mosaics are still preserved within the ancient ruins, even though the Gothic Church was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Columns styled from granite and marble with Corinthian capitals still stand amongst the ruins, creating a temple-like majesty worth a visit.
- Troodos Mountains
The Troodos Mountain Range is the largest in Cyprus, home of the Gods and Titans. It stretches across the majority of western Cyprus, and is home to Ski resorts and Byzantine monasteries. There are four specified nature reserves nestled within the national park, with 750 species of plants, animals, and birds, including the rare Bonelli’s Eagle and the iconic Cypriot Mouflon. Other than through the infamy of mythology, the mountains are mostly known for their copper mines, and ophiolite sequence (a section of the Earth’s mantle which has risen above sea level) making it the perfect place to visit for History and Geography fans alike.
- Aphrodite’s Rock.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite is described as walking out of the sea and named after the Cyprus trees in front over. Aphrodite’s rock is, according to legend, the birthplace of Aphrodite. Located off the shore amongst rough seas, Aphrodite’s Rock is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Cyprus. Parking in the vicinity is free, and the area has been described as extremely peaceful. Whilst there are facilities available near by (a shop which sells drinks and snacks, and public toilets in the tourist pavilion) there is no wheelchair access. Some honourable mentions which we could have added to our list include the odeon, the agora, and the old town. Paphos is bursting with history and culture, and it’s waiting for y