Paphos Ruins (World Heritage)

Paphos Ruins (World Heritage)

That already around 1200 BC The sanctuary, founded in BC, was the center of worship of the goddess Aphrodite in antiquity and thus an important pilgrimage site. Even today, the remains reflect the importance of the place. According to, the highlights in the Archaeological Park are the four Roman town villas and magnificent floor mosaics. The Panagia Chrysopolítissa church with the column of the Apostle Paul and the monumental royal tombs from the 4th century BC are also part of the world heritage. Chr.

Paphos Ruins: Facts

Official title: Paphos ruins
Cultural monument: Old Paphos, the former center of the veneration of Aphrodite, and New Paphos with the Hellenistic royal tombs, the “House of Dionysus”, the “House of Theseus” and the “House of Aion”, the Roman Odeion and the Agora, the Agia Solomoni catacombs, the basilicas of Panagia Limeniótissa and Panagia Chrysopolítissa and the ruins of the medieval fortress
Continent: Europe
Country: Cyprus
Location: Paphos, southwest of Nicosia
Appointment: 1980
Meaning: Centuries-old places of worship and Roman mosaics, which are among the most beautiful in the world

Paphos Ruins: History

4th millennium BC Chr. first traces of a fertility cult
12th century BC Chr. Court shrine of Aphrodite in Paläa-Paphos (Old Paphos)
End of the 4th century BC Chr. Founding of Nea-Paphos (New Paphos)
3rd century BC Chr. Royal tombs
58 BC Chr. Cyprus becomes a Roman province
4th century Christianization of Cyprus and building of basilicas
332 and 342 Earthquake devastation
647 Arab conquest of Cyprus
1222 Destruction of the port fortress
1570 Grinding the fortress
1962 Discovery of the “House of Dionysus”
1983 Discovery of the mosaic cycle in the “House of Aion”

Holidays between antiquities

When the German pilgrim to Jerusalem Felix Faber visited Cyprus around 1550, Paphos did not seem to have impressed him. “During the day we saw Zyperland in front of us and drove to a destroyed city called Paphum, which was the first city in Cyprus. There was a castle in it, where the beautiful, unchaste woman Venus had her apartment (…) ”, so the few words in his travelogue, which appeared six years after his stay in Cyprus.

On the way to the Holy Land, innumerable pilgrims have made a stopover on the “island of Aphrodite” since the Middle Ages. While their ships were anchored off Larnaka, the faithful visited Nicosia and Famagusta as well as the Stavrovouni monastery, which kept a splinter of the Holy Cross as a valuable relic. The pagan Paphos had not yet been rediscovered at this time and the sanctuary of Aphrodite had already fallen into disrepair. It was not until the excavations of the 20th century that Paphos kissed awake from a centuries-long slumber. The Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Old Paphos is next to the Crusader fortress Covocle. From its pinnacles, the view wanders over the deep blue sea and the wide, still unspoilt coastal plain with its extensive orchards, on which lemons and oranges ripen.

During the first millennium the cult of Aphrodite was at its height, and Paphos was the “navel of the world”. In spring, when nature awoke, they celebrated Aphrodite and her youthful lover Adonis. There is no doubt that temple prostitution was at the center of these celebrations. The ancient historian Herodotus also knew this: “Every woman from the country has to sit down in the sanctuary of Aphrodite once in her life and give herself to a stranger.” In the sanctuary the men walked around looking for the woman of their choice. When she was found, a coin was thrown into the lap of the chosen one. “Whoever throws the money down first, she follows and will not disdain anyone (…). Those who look pretty and are stately can soon go again, but the ugly ones have to stay for a long time (…) ”, so the words of the Greek historian. For the men, the sexual adventure with a woman they did not know was a kind of initiation; for the priests the thrown coins are likely to have been an important source of income.

New Paphos, a walled, planned built city with a grid-like road network, was founded in the fourth century BC. Several hotels have been built between the ruins in the last few decades; the excavators of the construction industry competed with the spades of the archaeologists. It is to this development that we owe the pleasure of a holiday between antiquity – albeit dubious for some.

The most important sights of New Paphos are the Roman floor mosaics in the palace of the proconsul and in the mansions of the administrative aristocracy. The mosaics in the entrance area of ​​the »House of Dionysus« and around the atrium show motifs from Ovid’s »Metamorphoses«. The topics revolve around love, wine and the joys of hunting. Often a transformation, a metamorphosis, is represented; so Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in the mirror, also becomes a narcissus. The late antique mosaics in the “House of Aion”, which are among the finest and best of Roman mosaic art, are particularly valuable. In a five-picture cycle, the ancient client had his guests demonstrated a counter-model to Christianity. The cult of Dionysus, the god of wine and boisterous feast, it is praised as a better “creed” compared to ascetic Christianity. Remains of the Roman forum, the ruins of several early Christian basilicas, but above all the Hellenistic royal tombs complete the picture of ancient Paphos.

Paphos Ruins (World Heritage)