Steeped in rich history, the coastal city of Paphos in Western Cyprus is an ideal holiday destination for those looking to take in plenty of culture as part of a sunny break – not only has the entire city been made a world heritage site, but it’s a contender for 2017’s European City of Culture too.
Believed to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite, Paphos is a treasure trove of relics and stories from the Classical and Roman eras, and sports many impressive historic landmarks. From churches to castles, forts to tombs, it’s easy to while away the day taking them all in (if you can get away for two weeks, you certainly won’t regret it!).
If all of this talk of the past is taking you back to the school history lessons you’d rather forget, don’t overlook Paphos just yet – you don’t have to be a keen historian to enjoy the ancient delights of this city! While there is plenty of information on offer, and tour guides on-hand at each historical destination, it is just as wonderful to step back and admire the crumbling ancient architecture against the stunning views Paphos that has to offer. Away from the obvious tourist spots, there is much more to see and do, for families and couples alike – why not relax on one of Paphos’ many white sand beaches, or soak up the atmosphere at its bustling harbour?
That said, these popular cultural sights are well-worth a visit if you can tear yourself away from the beach!
The Paphos Amphitheatre
This beautiful outdoor venue has to be seen to be believed. Nestled on the slopes of Fabrica hill, it’s still used for music events and theatrical performances today – grab an ice-cream or a cool beverage, sit on its ancient steps and enjoy the show!
Legend has it, that this was the spot where Aphrodite emerged from the sea in 1200BC to begin life as a mortal. Today, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this, now sacred, place to take in the romance of this well-known mythological tale.
The Mosaics of Paphos
One for design enthusiasts! The ancient houses of Dionysius and Theseus contain the oldest collection of Roman mosaics, which date back to the 2nd century AD! You’ll be amazed at how beautiful they are after all these years, and the stories they tell.
Tombs of the Kings
Another extraordinarily old relic, dating back to the 4th century AD – this fascinating underground necropolis of tombs served as the burial ground for aristocrats of the time. Each tomb was hand-carved out of stone, and has been remarkably well-preserved.
The Paphos Fort
Probably the most famous landmark of the city, as it sits on the edge of Paphos harbour…you can’t miss it! This spot is fascinating because it’s been destroyed and rebuilt many times by the countries that have conquered the city – its design has been inspired by the French, Armenian, Venetian and British. Today you can enjoy deliciously fresh seafood at one of its many taverns or restaurants, and climb to the top for spectacular views across the harbour.