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Palea Paphos Travel Guide, Cyprus

Palea Paphos is a coastal town in the southwest area of Cyprus. Its modern name is Kouklia and it is situated about 9 miles east of the new town of Paphos. Known as Pafos in Greek, it is considered the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sex, Aphrodite. Paphos was the name of the daughter of Aphrodite and Pygmalion, according to the Greek mythology. One version by Apollodorus of Athens has it that Cinyras, her son, founded Palea Paphos, while another version by Pausinias claims that a king of Arcadia, Agapenor, was the founder of the city.

The city of Palea Paphos had been included by UNESCO in its world heritage, cultural and natural treasures list.

The Development of Palea Paphos

According to available records, Palea Paphos, the city of Aphrodite, was established in 1500 BC. However, idols dating back to 3800 BC had been discovered here. Palea Paphos was a thriving port during the period of Alexander the Great and his successors. It is sustained that Apostle Paul converted Sergius Paulus, the Roman Governor, to Christianity here during the first century. After a devastating earthquake in 76 AD, the Romans rebuilt the sanctuary, preserving the original oriental layout. However, after that, the city started losing its importance and the population left for Nicosia and other overseas places. This continued even in the British rule and the city remained underdeveloped till 1974.

The Turkish invasion sparked major investments in this area by the government. The government built dams, road infrastructure, water distribution works, and Paphos International Airport. Private investors constructed hotels, villas, apartments, and restaurants. At present, Palea Paphos is a major fishing harbor and tourist resort, with a population of about 47,300 in 2001.

The city is divided into two important sections, Ktima, the residential district, and Kato Pafos, the area of entertainment infrastructure and luxury hotels built around the mediaeval port. The economy of Palea Paphos is driven by tourism and fishing activities now.

Tourist spots in Palea Paphos

Except for a few low foundations of the rustic building that is believed to have existed here, very little had survived from the ancient temple of Aphrodite. One is the remains of the Late Bronze Age Sanctuary near the museum. Only huge limestone blocks with several deep holes remain here. The other is the Roman Sanctuary located beyond the museum, again with a few crumbling walls.

The Site Museum is in La Cavocle, with exhibits of several phallic monoliths found in Cyprus and finds from Palea Paphos in a chronological order. They include an eleventh century BC tomb, a limestone head belonging to the fifth century BC, and several bronze and pottery collections. The Leda Mosaic House houses a replica of the mosaic depicting Leda coming out of the bath, with her bare behind exposed to Zeus, who had pursued her in the form of a swan, according to a Greek legend. The original mosaic was stolen but recovered later and is now at the Cyprus Museum situated in Nicosia.

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