Paphos is the main resort center on the west coast of Cyprus. The seashore here is rockier than in the east part near Ayia Napa, so there are fewer beaches in the Paphos area. However, there are a large number of historical attractions around Paphos. There is an international airport in Paphos.
The settlement in the area of the city of Paphos (10 km east of modern Paphos) appeared in the Neolithic era. Now this place is called Paleo Paphos, where you can see ancient churches and Roman villas. In the works of the ancient historian Strabo, you can read that New Paphos was founded in the 12th century BC by the commander of the Arcadians Agapenor after the end of the Trojan War. The oldest part of Paphos, where the historical sites are preserved, is called Kato Paphos. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
During the period of Greek rule until the 4th century BC, Paphos was a provincial city. The capital of Cyprus was located in ancient Salamis, which is located on the east coast. Everything changed in 294 BC. Cyprus was captured by Ptolemy, who ruled in Egypt. He made Paphos the capital of Cyprus. At this time, Paphos reached its highest peak.
During Roman rule, the importance of Paphos gradually declined, especially after several devastating earthquakes. Emperor Constantine the Great at the beginning of the 4th century AD, after another earthquake, decided not to restore Paphos, and moved the capital back to Salamis. In the Middle Ages, during the reign of the Lusignan dynasty, the fortifications of Paphos were restored. The town began to develop again, however, during the earthquake of 1222, most of the fortification was again destroyed.
The main attraction of Paphos is the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. Its territory covers about 20 hectares. Due to frequent earthquakes, only the foundations of ancient buildings have been preserved here, but archaeologists found ancient mosaics that decorated the floors of Roman villas.
In Kato Paphos, you can visit four villas named after the gods and heroes of ancient Greek myths: The Villa of Dionysus, the Villa of Theseus, the House of Aion, and the House of Orpheus. The largest mosaic panels are found in the Villa of Dionysus and the Villa of Theseus. There, the area of mosaic floors reaches several hundred square meters.
Next to the ancient villas is the Ancient Greek Agora, as well as the Odeon Theater. Previously, there was a trade area and a center of social life. The Agora square was surrounded by granite columns, but most of them were used by the Byzantines to strengthen the Castle of Saranta Kolones, which they built nearby in the 6th century to protect against Arab raids.
Apart from the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, there are two important attractions in Paphos. On the opposite side of the street of the Apostle Paul, you can visit the excavations around the Church Chrysopolitissa. In Roman times, there was a Forum located there. In 45 AD, the Apostle Paul was scourged there when he arrived in Cyprus to preach Christianity. To this day, the column to which he was tied has been preserved. The mosaic floors of a 4th-century Byzantine basilica, as well as the church of Christopolitissa, built in the 16th century are also preserved here.
One of the most interesting sights of Paphos is the Kings Tombs. They were cut in the rocks 3 kilometers north of Kato Paphos. The first burials in the Kings Tombs of Paphos date back to the 4th century BC. At this time, Cyprus fell under the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty, who ruled in Egypt. In their monumentality, these tombs are similar to those of Egypt. The most famous in the necropolis is the tomb with a courtyard of Doric columns.