From the World Heritage inscription:
Because of their great antiquity, and because they are closely and directly related to the cult and legend of Aphrodite (Venus), who became the ideal of beauty and love, inspiring writers, poets and artists throughout human history, Paphos is of outstanding universal value. Pre-Hellenic fertility deities were worshipped in Cyprus from Neolithic times. Many of the archaeological remains are of great antiquity, as Paphos has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The Temple of Aphrodite represents one of the earliest settlements, while the mosaics of Nea Paphos are extremely rare and rank among the best examples in the world. The architectural remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and rock-hewn peristyle tombs are of outstanding historical value as they are one of the keys of the understanding of ancient architecture.
Petra tou Romiou, or Aphrodite’s Rock, is a rock that marks the site of Aphrodite’s birthplace, which was a place of pilgrimage for the entire Hellenic world. Excavations have unearthed the spectacular 3rd- to 5th-century mosaics of the Houses of Dionysus, Orpheus and Aion, and the Villa of Theseus, buried for 16 centuries and yet remarkably intact. The mosaic floors of these noblemen’s villas are considered among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean. They mainly depict scenes from Greek mythology.
Nearby, the stone pillar where St Paul according to tradition was bound and beaten for preaching Christianity. The Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery was founded in the 12th century and is dedicated to Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate. The neighbouring monastery of Agios Neofytos contains some of the world’s finest Byzantine frescoes and icons as well as an interesting Byzantine museum.
The Tombs of the Kings, in Kato Paphos, is a monumental structure carved out of solid rock with some tombs decorated with Doric pillars. Spread over a vast area, these impressive underground tombs date back to the 4th century BC. High officials rather than kings were buried here, but the magnificence of the tombs gave the locality its name.
Palaipaphos (Old Paphos) was one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centres of the ancient Greek world, and once the city-kingdom of Cyprus. Here stood the famous elaborate sanctuary of Aphrodite, the most ancient remains of which date back to the 12th century BC. It is the most significant of a dozen such consecrated sites in Cyprus The glorious days of the sanctuary lasted until the 3rd-4th centuries AD. Amphoras and ceremonial bowls from here, many of which are on display in the Cyprus Museum in Lefkosia, depict exquisitely costumed priestesses as well as erotic scenes from the sacred gardens that once surrounded the temple.
Originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour; it was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled by the Venetians in 1570, and rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island in the 16th century.
The time I saved visiting Choirokoitia was more than used visiting Paphos.
The archaeological park a Paphos is the ruins of an entire city which was once an extremely important port in the Mediterranean. Today is has some of the best preserved floor murals dating back to the Roman era.
The archeology park is located near the coast and requires driving through the entire city to reach it.
Entrance is €4.50, which is very reasonable for the size of the attraction. Expect to spend about 2 hours there and you should probably bring water and a hat as almost everything is out in the open and Cyprus can be quite hot and sunny.
In addition to the archeology park, there are also several other attractions which are part of the world heritage site which you can visit if you have time.
From the World Heritage inscription:
Located in the District of Larnaka, about 6 km from the southern coast of Cyprus, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia lies on the slopes of a hill partly enclosed in a loop of the Maroni River. Occupied from the 7th to the 5th millennium B.C., the village covers an area of approximately 3 ha at its maximum extent and is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It represents the Aceramic Neolithic of Cyprus at its peak, that is the success of the first human occupation of the island by farmers coming from the Near East mainland around the beginning of 9th millennium.
Excavations have shown that the settlement consisted of circular houses built from mudbrick and stone with flat roofs and that it was protected by successive walls. A complex architectural system providing access to the village has been uncovered on the top of the hill. The achievement of such an impressive construction, built according to a preconceived plan, expresses an important collective effort, with few known parallels in the Near East, and suggests a structured social organisation able to construct and maintain works of a large scale for the common good. A house consisted of several circular buildings equipped with hearths and basins arranged around a small courtyard where domestic activities took place. The houses belonged to the living, as well as to the dead who were buried in pits beneath the rammed earthen floors. Among the finds such as flint tools, bone tools, stone vessels, vegetal and animal remains, noteworthy are the anthropomorphic figurines in stone (one in clay), which point, together with funerary rituals, to the existence of elaborate beliefs. Since only part of the site has been excavated, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.
Like many archaeological world heritage sites, Choirokoitia is important but not much see when you visit. I usually budget an hour for visiting most singular cultural sites like this one. After 30 minutes I had seen everything there was to see.
The site is a series of circular stone rings which have been excavated from a hillside and 3 reconstructed dwellings….and that is it. It isn’t very big and doesn’t take a lot of time to visit. Assuming you read every sign, walk every path, and read everything in the brochure, it will be hard to spend more than 30 minutes here.
On the plus side, it is very easy to access from the highway and is only about 20 minutes from the Cyprus airport.
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The Hotel Adler Balance offers a remarkable experience for guests hoping to indulge in a truly relaxing vacation. Its unique mix of activities and accommodations make it the most desirable resort in a region known for its breathtaking beauty.
Today’s absolutely brilliant postcard comes from Morgan of A Beautiful View:
This photo is from my recent trip to Japan. It is the first tier of the thousands of arches that cover the pathway of Fushimi Inari-Taisha in Kyoto. The shrine itself was breathtaking and the atmosphere was still and serene as I wandered through the thousands of arches that stretch up into the mountain. I visited many temples while in Kyoto, but this one stands out most in my memory for it’s beauty and subtle grace.
(Do you have a photo you’d like to see featured here? Email me at Steph@twenty-somethingtravel.com)