Paphos - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Paphos


The city of Paphos on the southwest coast of Cyprus was the capital of the island in Roman times, and dates from 1400 BC. Legend has it that the city is built on the spot where the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was born. The city also has many connections to and relics from early Christianity. Over the centuries it has survived numerous foreign incursions and raids, and even a devastating earthquake in the 4th century. It lost out to Larnaca as a major port in the Middle Ages and experienced a decline during the British colonial period when development of this part of the island came to a standstill.

Today, however, Paphos is reviving on the strength of tourism and government investment in infrastructure such as dams, roads and airport. Private initiatives have also resulted in a boom in the construction of hotels, apartments and villas. The city has become a popular seaside resort with a large population. The Ktima section of the city is the main residential area, while Kato Paphos is the playground of holidaymakers, built around the medieval port with its numerous luxury hotels, tavernas and entertainment venues.

Information & Facts


Paphos enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with sunny, warm summers and short mild winters when the weather is comparable to a pleasant European spring. In summer temperatures are comfortable without too much humidity. Towards the end of the brief winter season, in late January and February, snow falls on the nearby mountains and it is possible to make a ski-trip and take a dip in the blue sea all on the same day. Paphos guarantees more than 340 sunny days a year.

Getting Around

Paphos has a reliable and inexpensive bus system that connects Kato Paphos and the upper town. Hiring a car is a good way to explore the surrounding areas, but the main parts of town can be easily navigated on foot. Municipal taxis are available and tend to be reasonably priced, servicing Paphos and its surrounds, although it is recommended that these are hailed rather than pre-booked as drivers tend to turn on meters when leaving to pick up passengers. For the more adventurous, hiring a scooter can be an exciting way to explore Paphos, but it is worth noting that accident rates are very high.

The majority of Cypriots speak Greek, and a small percentage speaks Turkish. The Greek Cypriot dialect differs from mainland Greece. English, German and French are spoken in tourist areas.

The currency was changed to the Euro (EUR) on 1 January 2008. Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments. Money and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks, open from Monday to Friday. There are ATMs spread throughout the island, operating 24 hours a day.

GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Near the modern Paphos lighthouse is the Cyprian Acropolis: a complex of ancient buildings, including a Roman Odeon, built in the 2nd century, which has been restored and is now used for summer orchestral and stage performances. The Odeon was the focus of the ancient city centre, of which some ruins still remain in the area. South of the Odeon are the remnants of the Roman Temple of Asclepius, the God of Medicine, and north of the lighthouse are the ruins of the ancient town walls.

A large pistachio tree marks the entrance to the underground catacombs of Agia Solomoni in Kato Paphos. The tree is a strange sight, festooned as it usually is with pieces of cloth tied onto it by the faithful as offerings, in the hope that this sacred tree will cure various ailments. The catacombs themselves were carved into Fabrica hill, below the ancient Roman city wall, in the 4th century BC, and later became chapels for the early Christians. The underground chapels feature some interesting frescoes and graffiti left by 13th century crusaders, and there are numerous legends and stories attached to the patron saint Ayia Solomoni. Visitors are advised to take a torch along to explore the catacombs.

A romantic side trip from Paphos is a visit to the natural grotto on the Akamas Peninsula near Polis, 30 miles (48km) north of Paphos, where legend has it that the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, used to take her baths. The serene pool, shaded by a fig tree and surrounded by beautiful examples of maindenhair fern, can be reached by nature trails from Akamas.

The striking mosaic floors in a series of ancient Roman noblemen's villas, dating from the third to fifth century, are a must-see for visitors to Paphos. The site where the villas are still being excavated can be found about 300 metres from the Paphos harbour. The mosaics featuring mythological scenes are visible in the houses of Dionysus, Orpheus and Aion, and the Villa of Theseus. All were made of small cubes of marble and stone, called tesserae, with glass paste added to widen the range of colour. In the House of Dionysus, for example, 5,985 square feet (556 sq metres) of floor space in 14 rooms are covered with the gorgeous mosaics.

There are actually no kings buried here. Rather the site known as the Tombs of the Kings, one mile (2km) northwest of Paphos harbour towards Coral Bay, was the final resting place of about 100 Ptolemaic aristocrats who lived and died in the city between 3 BC and 3 AD. The tombs are impressive, carved out of solid rock, some featuring Doric pillars and frescoed walls. Archaeological excavations are ongoing at the site, which also features a church known as Paleoekklisia, which sports traces of Byzantine frescoes.

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