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Kato Pafos Archaeological Park

Paphos, Cyprus

The inclusion of the Kato Pafos archaeological site in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1980 was the starting point for the creation of a General Plan whose aim would be primarily to protect and maintain the archaeological remains, as well as promote to visitors. Kato Pafos archaeological Park includes sites and monuments from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, while most remains date to the Roman period. The marvellous mosaic floors of four Roman villas form the impressive epicentre of the finds. The complex includes other important monuments, such as the Asklepieion, the Odeon, the Agora, the “Saranta Kolones” (Forty Columns) Fortress, the “Limeniotissa” Ruins of early Christian Basilica and the “Tombs of the Kings”.

1. Mosaics

House of Dionysos, House of Theseus, House of Aeon, House of Orpheus. The mosaic floors of these Houses, date from the 2nd to the 5th century AD. The first house was discovered accidentally by a farmer in 1962. The villas belonged to noblemen and the mosaics are considered among the finest in the Eastern Mediterranean. The depict scenes from Greek mythology and are considered masterpieces of mosaic art. Some of the mosaics at the House of Dionysos depict the god of wine, while that of Theseus depicts the classical Greek mythology hero brandishing a club against the Minotaur. The mosaics are a stop on the Aphrodite Cultural Route.

2. Pafos Odeon

The Pafos Odeon is a small 2nd century Ad Odeon built entirely of well-hewn limestone blocks. It is now used regularly for musical and theatrical performances. Nearby are the remains of the ancient city walls, the Asklepieion, a building dedicated to Asklepios, god of medicine, and the Roman Agora.

3. Saranta Kolones (Forty Columns) Fortress

This Frankish castle was built by the Lusignans in the early 13th century on the site of a previous Byzantine castle and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1222.

4. “Limeniotissa” Ruins of Early Christian Basilica

The basilica dates to the Early Christian period possibly to the beginning of the 5th century. It originally comprised three aisled divided by two tows of marble columns, a single  apse, a narthex and atrium. The floors were paved with brilliantly coloured mosaics in geometric patterns. The basilica was destroyed during the Arab raids of the 7th century and a smaller version rebuilt in the 10th century. It was finally destroyed by an earthquake in 1159.

5. “Tombs of the Kings”

The “Tombs of the Kings” are one of the major archaeological attractions of Pafos. These monumental underground tombs carved out of solid rock date back to the 3rd century BC and some are decorated with Doric pillars. High ranking officials rather than Kings were buried here, but the magnificence of the tombs gave the locality its grand name.

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