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The ancient city of Paphos was probably built by Nicocles, the last king of Paphos, at the end of the 4th century BCE. By the beginning of the second century BCE it became the capital of the island, replacing Salamis during the Hellenistic era under the Ptolemies.


Its sites and monuments date from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages. Among the most significant remains so far discovered are four large and elaborate Roman villas: the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion, the House of Theseus and the House of Orpheus, all with superb preserved mosaic floors, especially an Orpheus mosaic. In addition, excavations have uncovered an agora, asklipieion, basilica, odeion, and Hellenistic-Roman theatre, and a necropolis known as the "Tombs of the Kings".

Notable Structures

circa 175 CE

Villa of Theseus
The area has been excavated by the Polish Archaeological Mission of Warsaw University. It is a building of palatial character, whose construction began in the second century CE and underwent many modifications. It was inhabitied until the early seveth century CE. According to the archaeological evidence, the building was the official seaat of the proconsul, the Roman governor of Cyprus.

The residential villa expanded horizontally around a large atrium and consisted of clearly defined official and domestic sections. The rooms were adorned with figural and geometric mosaic floors and many works of art. The principal staterooms were located in the south wing, in the centre of which an apsidal room was the reception hall. The floor of this room is decorated with mosaic depicting the birth of Achilles. Other rooms are decorated with mosaic floors representing mythological scenes such as Theseus and Minotaur (hence the name of the villa-house), and poseidon with Amphitrite.

circa 180 CE

House of Dionysus
The house of Dionysus consists of a peristyle atrium with a garden pool and about fourtyrooms on all sides. All the comunal rooms and halls around the atrium are paved with mosaic floors. Near the atriuma pebble mosaic representing the monster Scylla was discovered. This is the oldest mosaic floor in Cyprus, belonging to an earlier building located under the "House of Dionysus", date to the early Hellenistic period.

The area was excavated by the Department of Antiquitites of Cyprus and was the first residential complex with mosaic floors to be discovered in Pafos. Mostly excavated between 1962 and 1965 CE by Dr. Kyriacos Nikolaou, then curator of the Department of Antiquitites. The residential structure was named after the figural scenes inspired by the Dionysus mythological circle, which decorate the reception hall. In the most prominent place, the triumph of Dionysus is represented. Other scenes representing Dionysus and Akme, Ikarios and the shepherds, Poseidon and Amymone, Pyramos and Thisbe and the metamorphosis of Daphne. On the floor of the reception room, a large vintage scene is depicted while a series of hunting scenes is represented on the floors on three sides of the atrium. Other rooms of the house are decorated with scenes depicting Hippolytos and Phaedra, Zeus and Ganymedes, Narcissus and the personification of the four seasons. Finally, other rooms are decorated with multicoloured geometrical compositions and other decorative motifs.

The House of Dionysus was a luxurious Roman residence with an atrium and impluvium, a central open court surrounded by a colonnaded portico, and a wealth of mosaic floors. It was built during the end of the second century CE, and was destroyed in the first half of the fourth century CE, probably due to earthquakes. The house was constructed on earlier building, the earlies of which was sanctuary carved in to the natural bedrock.

The residential-complex occupies an area of two thousand square meters, 556 square meters of which is covered with decorated mosaic floors. The building has been named the House of Dionysus, as many of the mosaics depict the scenes related to the worship of the Roman god Dionysus.


House of Aion
Only part of the residential building has been excavated by the Polish Archaeological Mission of the University of Warsaw. The uncovered rooms include the reception all of the building, decorated with exceptional geometric and figural mosaic floors.

The central panel of the main room is divided in to five smaller panels, each depicting a different mythological scene, such as Leda and the Swan, the Eiphany of Dionysus, the beauty contest between Cassiopeia and the Nereids, the punishment of Marsyas. In the centre of teh composition is the depiction of the god Aion, the personification of time, whose name was given to the house. The mural frescoes of the house depicted Apollo and the Muses. Some parts of these have been restored and are currently exhibited in the Paphos Museum.

circa 1200 CE

Forty Columns Castle
The castle was erected around 1200 CE, after the Frankish conquest of Cyprus, on the site of an earlier Byzantine. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1223 CE and never rebuilt. The building was a compact fortress surrounded by a massive external continuous wall with eigth towers and a moat. The outer entrance of the castle was situated in the east square tower and was approached by a wooden bridge over the ditch. The interior of the castle consisted of a square yard with four towers.

circa 1380 CE

Harbour Castle
The castle stands on the ancient mole on the west side of the harbour of Nea Pafos, it was constructed as part of the coastal defense sustem of Cyprus. It was built during the Frankish period, probably at the end of the fourteenth century CE. Originally, it had the form of two independent towers inter-connected by a curtain wall. One of the Frankish towers can be seen in ruins at the end of the mole, while the second tower is the one that stands today.

During the war between the Genoese and the Kingdom of Cyprus in 1373 XE the Genoese increased the height of the fortifications and dug a moat. The fortifications were in use during the first decades of the Venetian Period until 1546 CE when the towers must have collapsed. The Venetians decided not to repair them as they decided to base the defense of the island on the Ammochostos (Famagusta)-Lefkosia (Nicosia)-Keryaneia zone.

During the Ottoman period the western tower was restored in 1592 CE by Beylerbey (givernor) Ahmed Pasha, as evidenced by a marble plazque set above the entrance. During this period, the castle was used as prision. When the island passed in to the hands of the British it was used as a salt store, until 1935 CE when under the Antiquitites Law, it was declared an ancient monument.

In its present form the castle of Pafos is a two storey structure, with a crenellated roof. Passing through the gate of the fortress, on the ground floor, the spacious hall is off cruciform. Four dark and dank windowless rooms with arches are situated along the sides of the cruciform hall. Two small underground cells were used from the imprisonment of long-term convicts. Between the ground floor and the first floor there is a mezzanine with chambers that were used as prison cells as well.

The first floor is situated in the centre of the roof and is composed of three smaller rooms, the central room of which was usedas a mosque, whereas the other two were for the guards.

circa 150-350 CE

The remains/ruins identified as the Asklepieion, also spelled as the Asclepieion, are located directly south of the odeion and south-west of the Agora. It was a religious-structre (sanctuary) dedicatedt to god Asclepios and a medical establishment. The complex consists of three mainparts; a long corridor, an apsidal room flanked by two square rooms, and a long gallery with an entrance from the south.

circa 150-350 CE

The Agora was the central square court of thecity and was surrounded by porticoes of grey granite columns topped with white marble Corinthian capitals.

circa 150-350 CE

The Odeon was a small theatre where musical performances were held. It is a semi-circular structure in plan and was built against a support wall. The odeon consisted of an auditorium, an orchestra, two parallel passages (parodoi) and the stage (scenae) of which part of the facade (proskenion) and the paved floor are preserved.

circa 150-350 CE

Tombs of the Kings
The cemetery has been excavated by the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and, according to the archaeological evidence, was used during the Hellenistic and Ptolemaic periods. Due to their monumental character, the tombs are described as "royal" but in fact never served as resting place for any of the kings. Rich citizens andprobably high officials of the Ptolemaic state were buried here.

The architecture of the underground funerary monuments imitates that of the houses of the same period, a practice also found in Alexandria. They consist of a stepped dromos, a central atrium and burial chambers provided with many loculi for single burials. Often, the tombs are plastered and covered with frescoes; in many casee, entrances to the various loculi imitate temple facades.

circa 380 CE till date

Archaeological Complex of Chrysopolitissa
The complex consists of at least four or five successive basilica and church structures. The remains of the Christian basilicas and church were brought to light in the area around the current church of Ayia Kyriaki during the excavations undertaken by the Department of Antiquities, under the direction of the former director, Athanasios Papageorgiou, that were conducted from1971 till 1989 CE. Chrysopolitissa is one of the largest early Christian basilicas of Cyprus, and was the first Episcopal church of Nea Paphos from then end of the fourth century CE up to its abandonment in the mid-seventh century CE.

Notable Mosaics

circa 450 CE

The First Bath of Achilles
The mosaic is part of a larger scene in what probably is the main hall of the house of the Roman proconsul and it served as the reception-hall. The central mosaic panel consists of four smaller panels with figural representations, of which only one has survived to a larger extent. Of the other three panels, only some parts are preserved but it is believed that they depicted episodes from thelifeand accomplishments of Achilles.

The scene that has survived depicts the first bath of the new born Achilles (inspect). The hero lies in the arms of his mother Thetis who is shown in the centre lying on a bed. This part of the scene has been greatly damaged. Achilles is also shown sitting on the knees of his nurse, Anatrophe (upbringing), who is preparing to dip the infant in a cylindrical basin. Behind Anatrophe, is a personification of Ambrosia holding a jug of water. At the other end ofthe bed, King Peleus is sitting on his throne, holding a rod. Standing behind the throne are the three Fates: Clotho with here characteristic spindle and distaff, Lachesis with her diptuch, and Atropos, holding an open parchment.

The panel is surrounded by a zone of repeated lozenges and a band of lyre-shaped chain tresses. Between the geometric frame and the scene there is a frieze with hunting scenes where cupids hunt wild beasts.


Theseus and Minotaur
This mosaic floor depicts, in a medallion, the mythical duel between Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth ofCrete. In the centre of the scene Theseus is depicted holding a club in his right hand, while with his left hand he grabs thehorn of the Minotaur, who has fallen to its knees. On theleft side of the scene is a personification of the labyrinth as an old man watching the duel. Above the rocks are the personifications of the island of Crete and Ariadne.

The scene is framed by successive decorative zones that symbolize the labyrinth. The frame consists of a chain of diamonds and colourfull tresses theat symbolize the thread of Ariadne.


Pebble Mosaic Floor
This is the largest excavated pebble floor in Cyprus. The scenes are reproduced with black pebbles on a white background and are divided in to three panels that are framed by bands in brick-red-colour. The central panel depicts two dolphins holding tridents in their mouths. The west panel depicts a possibly make figure that is walking towards the northern side. His right hand is raised while in his left he holds a tall conical object, probably a utility vessel. The entire scene is framed by a band with repetitive coil patterns.

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