Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, has found itself at the heart of many an empire. It’s no surprise, then, that it remains covered by ruins and relics that reveal a rich history of storytelling. From beautiful temples to grand tombs and natural sites of significance – ancient Cypriots certainly celebrated their Gods.
The best way to understand this city’s incredible mythological history is by experiencing it, and with most of its archaeological sites open for you to explore; delving into the land of Gods and Monsters couldn’t be easier.
Whether you’re a history buff, appreciator of ancient artefacts or simply want something different from your next holiday, here’s our guide to the mythology of Paphos.
See the Tombs of the Kings
Just a couple of kilometres north of the harbour, you’ll find the incredible Tombs of the Kings. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this vast necropolis is made up of a series of underground tombs carved from solid rock. Its name is somewhat misleading as no kings were ever actually buried here, but that doesn’t detract from their magnificence and importance. The tombs remain beautifully intact, with intricate detailing adorning every wall, ceiling and column.
Plunge into the Baths of Aphrodite
Hiding in the small fishing village of Latchi, just north of Paphos; the baths of Aphrodite are a charming natural wonder. The goddess’s presence is felt right across the island, and perhaps nowhere more so than here. Climb down between the rocks and plunge yourself into the refreshing crystal waters formed in a shallow pool below. Take a seat and lounge in the exact spot where Aphrodite once bathed.
Tour the House of Dionysos
The breathtaking centrepiece of Paphos Archaeological Park; the House of Dionysos is perhaps the most impressive archaeological site on the island. Little of the main structure itself remains, but the real attraction is the superbly-preserved, intricate mosaics that adorn the floors. They depict delicate patterns, grand feasts, savage hunts and powerful gods; in particular the god of wine himself – Dionysos. Their quality really must be seen to be believed.
Sample what’s on offer at Vouni Panayia Winery
Of course, there’d be no god of wine without vineyards! Whether you prefer rosé, red or white; all are catered for at wineries across the island, with Vouni Panayia near Paphos being a real highlight. When you arrive, you’ll be taken on a tour that covers everything from the endless rows of grapevines themselves, to the technologically advanced production rooms and the cold, dark barrel cellars. After a look through the museum you’ll no doubt be itching to take a seat in the tasting room, but if you’d prefer to try their fine wines over dinner, the on-site gourmet restaurant with its hilltop views should do the trick.
Eat al-fresco at Paphos Harbour
Retrace ancient steps with a relaxing stroll along Paphos’ historic waterfront. Flanked by a byzantine fortress on one side, the harbour’s history is immediately clear, but it has still moved with the times. Select from a vast range of al-fresco terraces to dine on. Choose to tuck into traditional Cypriot fare, or opt for home favourites such as Indian food or a hearty British breakfast. And come the evening, there’s simply no better place to enjoy a mojito or two as you watch the sun disappear on the horizon.
Take your first steps into the incredible world of mythology with flights to Paphos from Manchester Airport.