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These are the top five archaeological sites in Paphos you must see

The most important archaeological monuments of Paphos, covering from Prehistoric Period and Neolithic Age, until the early years of Christianity, around 300 AD.


Ancient Odeon Kato Paphos 10100

When the history of a place starts ten thousand years back, it is expected to find ancient monuments almost everywhere. And this is the case of Paphos. After all, it is not by accident the fact that the whole of Paphos is recognised as a World Heritage Site.
The first residents of Paphos inhabited the area during the Neolithic period, which starts 10000 years BC. And the history of Paphos and Cyprus starts since then. Evidence of this history and civilization is spread all over Paphos – and Cyprus in general of course.
Signs of the ancient civilization appear everywhere. People just dig for their everyday works and find ancient treasures. A few examples of this:
Farmers and producers find fragments of ancient, thousands of years old, pottery while cultivating their land. And this happens in areas where nobody expects to see ancient remains, not just near the well-known archaeological sites.
Builders and building companies find ancient buildings and tombs, thousands of years old, while digging foundations for new buildings.
Same happens when companies dig for infrastructure like water, electricity, roads etc. A joy and a wonder for all of us, but a nightmare for them, as every work has to stop until the Government Antiquities Department inspects and evaluates the findings. This can be a delay of days or even months for these companies, depending on the importance of the findings.

Archaeological sites are scattered everywhere in Paphos district. You can visit them from Kouklia (or Palaepaphos, the ancient first capital of Paphos and Cyprus), to Paphos and Kato Paphos. Also, ancient monuments abound from Coral bay and Agios Georgios in Pegeia, to Polis Chrysochous.
-- List includes monuments from Neolithic period 8500 BC until the early Christianity years, up to 300 AD, thus covering a pre – historic and historic period of 8800 years.

And here is the list of the top five ancient monuments you should definitely see while visiting Paphos:

Kato Paphos Archaeological Park

Paphos Archaeological park - Mosaics - House of DionysosThe archaeological park of Kato Paphos is one of the most important ancient monuments in Paphos and Cyprus.On the site were excavated monuments and discovered artefacts from the pre-historic period until the Middle Ages.

Among the most important remains that were excavated until now are four Roman period villas with mosaics of amazing craftamanship with scenes from Greek mythology. Paphos mosaics are considered among the finest in the world.

The ancient Odeon, the Agora and the Asklepieion, a sanctuary dedicated to Asklepeios, the ancient god of medicine, are monuments attracting many visitors. They date back from 200 years B.C. until 300 years A.C.

Also in the Archaeological Park, Saranta Kolones is a castle from the Byzantine period. It was built in the 7th century A.C.and destroyed by an earthquake in 1223 A.C.

The excavations on the site continue every year. In addition to the Cyprus Antiquities Department, the Archaeology departments of Universities around the world also participate in the excavations.

The Archaeological Park is next to Kato Paphos harbour. With a very big parking place next to the park and busses connecting the area with everywhere in Paphos, access to it is very easy.

The Archaeological Park of Paphos is a UNESCO World heritage Site, because of its Outstsanding Universal Value, according to the website of UNESCO. Just because of this, a visit to it must be on the list of anyone visiting Paphos.

 

Tombs of the Kings

Tombs of the Kings Kato Paphos Cyprus Tombs of the Kings is a magnificent necropolis from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, roughly from 300 B.C. until 300 A.C.

Despite its name it was rich and noble those who were buried here, not kings. During the Hellenistic period it was used for Ptolemaic high class and their families. This continued during the Roman period. There is also evidence that the first Christians also used this cemetery.

The tombs are carved out of solid rock. This fact and their beauty make them such an impressive monument.

It is located next to the archaeological park of Paphos to the west. It is also part of the ancient site that was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Entrance to the site is from the Tombs of the Kings avenue, the road connecting Kato Paphos with Coral Bay. Busses stop outside the monument. There is also ample free parking space, so the access is very easy and the entrance fee is cheap, so...

Another must-see ancient monument in Paphos.

 

Chrysopolitissa Basilica, Saint Paul's Pillar and Agia Kyriaki Church

Saint Pauls pillar, Agia Kyriaki church and Chrysopolitissa Basilica This archaeological site is directly connected with Christianity. Cyprus was the first place outside Israel, where Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas the Apostles taught. And it was the first country to recognise Christianity as its religion.

But before this happened, around 50 A.D., while the Apostles were visiting Cyprus and teaching Christianity, the Romans who ruled Cyprus at the time, punished Saint Paul with 39 lashes for teaching.

For this, Saint Paul was tied on a marble pillar. According to tradition, this pillar is the one mentioned on this site and bears his name.

Chrysopolitissa Basilica are the remains of a very big ancient church, one of the first and more ancient Christian churches in the world. It was built in the 4th century A.D. Today you can see only parts of the floors which were decorated with mosaics and columns made of marble and granite. The Basilica was later destroyed during the Saracens raids and because of a big earthquake and was abandoned. Centuries later, Agia Kyriaki, a stone built church was built at the site, around 1500 A.D.

This site is in the middle of Kato Paphos, on a side road of the main road connecting Kato Paphos with the upper, old town of Paphos. It is very easy to visit on foot and the entrance is free.

 

Lemba and Kissonerga pre-historic sites and Maa – Palaiokastro first Greek settlement

By visiting these three ancient sites, you gain a good idea of the first inhabitants of Cyprus.
Lemba and Kissonerga pre – historic, Neolithic and Bronze Age sites give an idea of the first people who came and lived in Cyprus. Both settlements date back to 8000 B.C.
At Lemba there is one archaeological site, while at Kissonerga there are three: Mylouthkia, Mosfilia and Skalia.


Kissonerga Mosfilia archaeological site Kissonerga - Mylouthkia site covers two periods. The oldest, Neolithic period covers from 8300 to 7000 B.C. The second period is from the Early and Middle Chalcolithic Period, from 3400-3500 B.C. There are also signs and evidence of “newer” activity in this area, always thousands of years B.C.


Kissonerga – Mosfilia site is a settlement from Neolithic Period, around 6500 years B.C. until the early Copper period, around 2500 years B.C. when it was abandoned. These are five historic periods covering four thousand years, during which this small place was inhabited. This is a small site, but for eight and a half thousand years ago, it was a very big settlement for the era. It is the largest settlement in Paphos from this period. It is also the settlement with the longest history in Cyprus, expanding four thousand years.


Kissonerga - Skalia site dates to the Bronze Age, about 2500B.C. until 1600 B.C.

 


Lemba archaeological site reconstructed ancient houses Finally, Lemba archaeological site is believed to have been first settled in the Chalcolithic Period from 3800–2500 BC.
These are all small sites. Visit to any of them can take from 10 to 30 minutes. As they are is no entrance fee to any of them and are located nearby, it is a good idea to dedicate a day to visit them. Not just them, but the villages of Lemba and Kissonerga as well. They are two very beautiful and interesting villages with many things to do and see around. Well worth the visit.


On both sites, Lemba and Kissonerga – Mosfilia, you can see reconstructed ancient houses. In Kissonerga – Skalia ancient site you can also see one of the first beer making places in the world. This microbrewery is from the Bronze Age, 3500 years ago.


Maa – Paleokastro was one of the first, if not the first, Greek settlements in Cyprus. It is located at Coral Bay area and dates back to 1200 B.C. The historic site consists of the remaining of the settlement and the museum of Maa – Paleokastro. The museum has an interesting, round design, like a shield. The exhibitions are presented in a circular form, under this circular, shield – like roof.

 

Temple of Aphrodite, Kouklia

Leda and the Swan mosaic Kouklia Paphos Cyprus is called the Aphrodite's island because of the very ancient bonds between Cyprus and the ancient Goddess. Officially Aphrodite worshiped in Cyprus since 1500 B.C.  Petra tou Romiou or Aphrodite's birthplace according to ancient myth is a few kilometers from Kouklia or Palaepaphos. To this day, thousands of people visit this majestic place which is surrounded by so many myths.

A goddess dedicated to fertility was worshiped in Kouklia - or Palaepaphos as it was called at the time, since 3800 B.C. Gradually the cult of this goddess dedicated to fertility transformed into the cult dedicated to Aphrodite.

Palaipaphos was the capital of the Kingdom of Paphos and the sanctuary of Aphrodite was one of the main reasons of the prosperity of Palepafos. Even when Nea (new) Paphos was built where Kato Paphos is, and the capital transferred there, Palaipaphos retained its importance, because of the sanctuary and the cult of Aphrodite for many years.

At the ancient site of the sanctuary, there is now a museum housing the findings from the archaeological site, which is still excavated. The mosaic of Leda and the swan, found in a nearby villa, is among the most important and beautiful exhibits.

By visiting the areas where Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, was born and worshiped, explains the very strong bond between Cyprus and Aphrodite.

 

Paphos district archaeological museum

Paphos Archaeological MuseumOne more addition to this list is the Paphos district archaeological museum. Although not a sightseeing or an ancient site like the others in this list, it covers 10000 years of history of Paphos. The exhibits come from the whole district of Paphos. By visiting the museum, through the artefacts you get a good idea of the history of Paphos, from the pre-historic era until the medieval period.