Travelling to the south-west of Cyprus? Well, there's a pleasant surprise waiting for you in the coastal region. It's a city that was selected as a European Capital of Culture for the year 2017. Yes, you guessed it right - Paphos! It’s a coastal city with some intriguing ancient remains and has been included in the list of UNESCO's world heritage sites. According to the Greek myths, this was the place where Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation had landed when she rose from the sea. When you begin exploring the city, you’ll certainly come across some of its popular historic attractions:
1. Tombs of the Kings
These underground tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have been carved out of solid rock. Many of them date back to the 4th century BC, and were used to bury the aristocrats and major officials after their death. However, no kings were buried here. Detailed excavations were carried out in the late 1970s and 1980s under the former Director or Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr. Sophocles Hadjisavvas. These tombs are located at a distance of about two kilometres to the north of Paphos harbour.
2. Agora and Odeon
Scattered near the harbour are a small theatre called the Odeon and a large court in front of it known as Agora. They are among the well-preserved remnants of the times when this region was ruled by the Romans. The Odeon is still in use for the summer music festivals. While only the foundations and few parts of the columns are the only things visible today of the Agora, it was once a bustling Roman marketplace. You can also find the crumbled remains of the walls of the ancient city. Among the other ancient remains are a rocky mound and a collection of structures that served as a shrine of Asklepios, the god of healing.
3. The Ancient Theatre
When you're exploring Soli, one of the most significant city-kingdom sites in addition to the Ancient Kourion and the Ancient Salamis, you'll come across a small theatre. The visits to this theatre are made by tourists as a part of day trips during their holidays to paphos. Most of the sites located in this part of Cyprus are from the Assyrian, Roman, and the Byzantine periods. The most important site in Soli is the basilica building, which has the brilliantly-preserved swan and dolphin mosaics. Soli is located at a distance of about 101 kilometres from Paphos.
4. Ayia Kyriaki Church
You'll be surprised to know that the Hrysopolitissa Basilica was the largest basilica during the times of Byzantine rule in Paphos. Now it is an extensive ruin with scattered columns and some remains from the once beautiful mosaics. Towards the eastern end of the entire site is the Ayia Kyriaki Church, which has stood the test of time and is used for the Catholic and Anglican services even today. As you move towards the western end of the site, you'll come across the St. Paul's Pillar. It is believed to be the pillar where St. Paul was punished for preaching Christianity.
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