Culture and history info
By the harbour stands Paphos Castle, originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour. It was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled in 1570 by the Venetians who were unable to defend it against the Ottomans, who in their turn restored and strengthened it after capturing the island. Saranta Kolones, Kato Paphos, near the harbour, is a castle built in the first years of Lusignan rule (beginning of the 12th century) maybe on the site of a previous Byzantine castle. It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1222.
UNESCO added the entire town to its World Cultural Heritage List. Among the treasures unearthed are the mosaics in the Houses of Dionysos, Theseus and Aion, well preserved after 16 centuries under the soil. Then there are the mysterious vaults and caves, the Tombs of the Kings, the pillar to which Saint Paul was allegedly tied and whipped and the ancient Odeon Theatre. Other places of interest include the Byzantine Museum and the District Archaeological Museum, with its attractive collection of Cypriot antiquities from the Paphos area, dating from the Neolithic Age up to 1700 AD. Near the Odeon are the remains of the ancient city walls, the Roman Agora and a building dedicated to Asclepius, god of medicine.
The mosaic floors of these elite villas dating from the 3rd to the 5th century are among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean. They mainly depict scenes from Greek mythology.
The city contains many catacomb sites dating back to the early Christian period. The most famous is Saint Solomoni Church, originally a Christian catacomb retaining some of its 12th century frescoes. A sacred tree at the entrance is believed to cure the ailments of those who hang a personal offering on its branches.
A few miles outside the city, the rock of Aphrodite (Petra tou Romiou, "Stone of the Greek") emerges from the sea. According to legend, Aphrodite rose from the waves in this strikingly beautiful spot. The Greek name, Petra tou Romiou is associated with the legendary frontier-guard of Byzantine times, Digenis Acritas, who kept the marauding Saracens at bay. It is said that to repel one attack he heaved a large rock (Petra), at his enemy.
The site has recently seen the development of Aphrodite Hills resort. It features a five-star InterContinental Resort Hotel, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, fitness facilities, holiday villas, apartments, townhouses and the Retreat Spa. Aphrodite Hills appeared in the Forbes magazine 'top five resorts' list where it was voted the world's most desirable new resort.
Near Petra tou Romiou is Palaepaphos, Old Paphos, one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in the ancient Greek world, and once an ancient city kingdom of Cyprus. Here are the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite, where the most ancient remains date back to the 12th century BC. The temple was one of the most important places of cult and pilgrimage of the ancient world, until the 3rd–4th centuries AD. The museum, housed in the Lusignan Manor, is small but with many finds from the area.
Yeroskipou with its remarkable five-domed Byzantine church of Ayia Paraskevi and its Folk Art Museum is a town in Paphos metropolitan area known for many years for its delight 'loukoumi'.
North-east of Paphos lies Ayios Neophytos (St. Neophytos) Monastery, known for its `Encleistra' (Enclosure) carved out of the mountain by the hermit himself, which boasts some of the finest Byzantine frescoes of the 12th and 15th centuries. Nearby too is the painted village church of Emba (Empa).
Four kilometres (2.5 miles) north of Paphos is the village of Lemba (Lempa), home to numerous artists, many of whom have open studio shops, the sculpture known as the Great Wall of Lempa by the Cypriot artist Stass Paraskos and the Cyprus College of Art.
Just off the coast of Paphos is the wreck of M/V Demetrios II which ran aground on 23 March 1998 in heavy seas, during a voyage from Greece to Syria with a cargo of timber.
Similarly, on December 8, 20011, the EDRO III ran aground off the coast of Cyprus. It is located near the Sea Caves of Paphos on the western shore of the island close to the Akamas Peninsula. Built in the 1960s, registered in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the Edro III is owed by an Albanian shipping company. It was traveling from Limassol, Cyprus to Rhodes when it ran aground. It is still shipwrecked to this day, although its cargo and fuel oil were removed. Local authorities are hesitant to remove the ship from the rocks due to the fact that the coastline is a protected natural park where turtles nest and endemic plant and animal species thrive.
Arts & Festivals
During September, Paphos holds an annual Opera, Paphos Aphrodite Festival in the open air at the harbour. The Castle provides an unusual backdrop and stage for the performance. En Plo also plays an important role, providing the facilities for this event. At other times of the year, En Plo will play host to numerous art exhibition and craft fairs. Another annual event is Open Studios Cyprus. Taking place during selected weekends in October; selected artists open their studio doors to the general public, providing an informal environment to view and discuss the work with the artist. This event is endorsed by the Cyprus Department of Education & Culture, Cultural Services, the Cyprus Tourist Organization and UNWTO
In addition to Open Studios Cyprus, there are a number of privately owned galleries and exhibition spaces. Details and dates for the regular events can always be found in the local English newspapers, such as Cyprus Weekly and Cyprus Monthly. Maintained by the Paphos Municipality, is the popular exhibition and conference space, Palia Ilektriki. In the centre of the town, this converted electricity building plays host to both conferences and exhibitions throughout the year. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 Open Studios Cyprus, used this location to launch the event with an Opening Art Exhibition. Visitors were able to meet some of the participating artists, view an example of their work whilst enjoying a glass of the local wine.
Popular for its local wines, Paphos has a number of wineries, including SODAP and Sterna Winery. Visitors are always welcome at these venues to sample the local wines they have on offer. (Source Wikipedia.org)