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ONE DAY WALK.. Paphos, The Tourist Hotspots and Beyond

10/24/2018

Author: Evgeniya Kondakova-Theodorou

 

Our aim today is to give you the heads-up on Paphos (in Southwest Cyprus). It’s a city that boasts a wealth of history and monuments and is a place where the myths and legends we know and love from childhood come to life before our eyes.

 

I must admit that this time around our trek was as fascinating and full of discoveries as it was long. We’ll tell you all about where we were and what we saw and you can either follow in our epic footsteps or pick and choose the most useful hints and tips and put together a trip that suit your interests and energy levels! So, shall we get started?!

 

Our route for today:

 

Paphos Archaeological Park with its mosaics and Fort (in the harbour at Kato Paphos) — St. Paul’s Pillar and the Panagia Chrysopolitissa Church in Kato Paphos — St. Solomon's Catacombs and Chapel — Fabrica Hill — The Tombs of the Kings in Kato Paphos — THE PLACE — The Byzantine Art Museum — Agia Paraskevi Church and the Paphos Ethnographic Museum — Zimbulaki’s Haji Smith House in Geroskipou.

 

Paphos Archaeological Park

Like most tourists in Paphos, we’ll start off our walking tour of the city and its sights here. Incidentally, the Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

 

Some are of the opinion that if you haven’t been here, you haven’t seen Paphos. We agree. The open-air archaeological museum on the ancient site of Nea Paphos impresses visitors with both its size and sheer abundance of impressive monuments dating back to different eras. First up, we’ll run through what to look for and where. In the southern part of the park you’ll find the ruins of the medieval Saranta Kolones fortress. Walking in the opposite direction, you’ll come across a lighthouse at the Northwestern gate. Directly opposite the main entrance to the Museum are the Houses of Orpheus, Theseus and Aeon, all famed for their mosaics. In the centre of the park, you’ll see the House of Dionysus, the Asklepieion (a temple dedicated to the god of medicine, Asklepios), and the ancient Odeon theatre and the Agora.

 

This is where we were met by Erica Charalambous, a famous choreographer, art director, cultural activist, and local resident and history buff, who accompanied us on our walk and gave us a wonderful tour of the local attractions and shared curious facts about past and modern-day Paphos.

 

Erica: «All the buildings on this site date back to 400 – 200 BC. Some of them were built earlier, some later ... after all, it was a period of bustling trade and bartering in the harbour and surrounding area. Around that time, spas were opened, most of them Greek or Roman».

 

The park is so huge that we advise you to set aside an entire free day to explore this unique place. The reason it is so extensive is because the bay area saw buildings being built, teared down, and replaced with new ones from different eras over many centuries. Excavations and archaeological digs have been undertaken here since the 1960s and continue to this day. The open-air historical and cultural artefacts are cordoned off but there are raised platforms allowing you access and the chance to take a closer look. This means they are open to enjoy while still bring preserved for future generations.

 

Erica: «It was a renowned and popular place for relaxation, feasts and various events, especially those involving political discussions and speeches ... In the Roman era, Paphos became the capital of Cyprus. It was bustling, cosmopolitan, and almost reached modern-day Limassol».

 

We plotted a route starting from the main entrance and immediately headed for the pavilion in the ancient walls, where a lot of people had gathered.

 

Erica: «An early Christian church once stood here. It was destroyed and was restored again in 1011. Later, it was rebuilt by the Turkish invaders in the late 16th century. Right now, there is a pavilion about the birds of Cyprus, their diversity and natural habitats, landscapes, migration routes. It details thousands of different species including those from the North and Russia. There is also an exhibition of traditional ceramics and mosaics from different Cypriot villages. You’ll notice each has its own style. Their designs always feature images of birds ...

 

In the 70s and 80s, there was an art gallery in the walls. Nowadays, there is an art café called La Boite 67 nearby that is still open if you can believe it! Let me tell you what «boite» means to the ears of a real Greek person. Boite[1]  in French is box. The Greek «boites» of the 60s — small, boxy, dark basements — served cheap wine and simple snacks and always had live music, which would be interrupted by poetry recitals and discussions about art. A lot of famous Cypriot and Greek musicians and singers started out here».

 

By the way, we recommend visiting this cafe-style restaurant. It serves European, Mediterranean and Greek cuisine and breakfasts, brunches and lunches.

 

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