Paphos’ traces in human history go back to the ninth millennium before Christ was born. Its long-age past is reflected in the legends wanting Aphrodite, one of the oldest deities in the Greek pantheon, to have emerged through Paphos’ turbulent waters, founding a worship that lasted for more than 16 centuries.
First the Mycenaean and the Classical Greek and Roman Civilizations, then the mighty Byzantines, the Crusaders, the Arabs and the Ottomans, they all left traces of their might and glory on the island, offering visitors much to see and marvel during their stay in Paphos.
In this article, we will just scratch the surface in 7 historical attractions you can visit while staying in Paphos.
- The Medieval Fort of Paphos
Paphos castle was built by the Byzantines, who needed to shield the precious port against raids from pirates and Saracens. As the grasp of Constantinople loosened, Crusaders took control of the island, and the powerful house of the Lusignans strengthened its fortification during the 13th century, only to be dismantled by the Venetians two centuries later. Valuing the harbour’s strategic position, the Ottomans managed to conquer the area and rebuilt the castle.
As the age of castles and medieval forts passed, the fort was used for other purposes: it served as a prison, storage facilities for salt traders, and, finally, from 1935, as Paphos’ most famous historical monument and its strongest magnet for tourists and visitors.
- The Ancient Theatre
Situated in the north-eastern corner of the excavated part of ancient Paphos, the theatre is almost 2,500 years old. Built to host the masterpieces of ancient tragedy and comedy, the theatre preserves the classic layout known from Greece and Asia Minor, designed to put actors and singers centre scene, half-surrounded by spectators, while its scaled elevation, based on the underlying hill’s slope, amplified the volume of the actors voices, making it easy for viewers to hear clearly even the slightest whisper, even if they sat in the last row.
- The Baths of Aphrodite
Located on the town’s outskirts, the Baths of Aphrodite are built beneath two waterfalls, where ancients believed that Adonis, a strikingly good-looking young man who had bewitched Aphrodite, used to bathe and later killed by the jealous Mars, who took the form of a wild boar. It was considered one of the best “beauty-spa” of the ancient times, where women of noble birth and great wealth went to enhance their charms.
- Mosaics of Paphos
The Mosaics of Paphos were discovered purely by accident, by a farmer who ploughed his field. This “accident” proved to be one of the most amazing strikes of luck for archaeologists and art historians since it unearthed some of the most stunning mosaic creations ever found. Preserving their vivid colours and exquisite scenes excellently, they depict known figures from Greek mythology, several well-known deities and legendary heroes, like Dionysus and Theseus. Staying in Paphos and not marvelling at these unique creations would be a sacrilege!
- Saranta Kolones
We recommend a visit to the famed “Saranta Kolones,” i. e. “Forty Columns,” is located north of the harbour and is what has survived of an ancient castle, founded on pillars made of granite.
Based on what we know, the fort was built by a celebrated family of French crusaders, the Lusignans, sometime in the 13th century, beside a Byzantine castle dating at least six hundred years back. A family favourite, it offers spectacular views of the majestic surrounding landscape, as well as an excellent chance for some romantic exploring.
- Saint Paul’s Pillar
Whether an ardent Christian or not, Saint Paul’s pillar is a standing emblem of how first Christians fought to spread their message across the then known world. According to the Acts of Apostles, Paul was the first to preach on the island and suffered harsh persecution. According to an old legend, he tightened up to this marble pillar and got relentlessly whipped by his menacing persecutors.
- The Kings’ Tombs
Finally, closing our list, we have a regal site. This extensive necropolis stretches a couple of kilometres north of the harbour and is an officially designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. A small maze of underground tombs dating at least to the 4th century before Christ’s first advent, it encompasses several burial chambers that were strenuously carved out of solid rock – a feat of incredible craftsmanship and patience.
Housing the remains of local aristocrats and high officials that lived up to the third century AD, the tombs are not typically regal, since they were not used for kings, yet they do breathe a royal eminence, with their imposing and highly unusual architecture.
Indeed, Paphos hosts a wealth of historical sites and cultural attractions; and what’s best, we have for you the most fantastic, fun-packed and easy way to see them all! Ride one of our modern Segways along with your family and friends and check them up close in just a couple of hours! Do not wait – book today!