Discover the history of the Greek Gods

Visit the Archaeological Sites of Paphos

Greek Gods

PAPHOS MOSAICS

In Cyprus history this group of mosaics depicting many of the Greek Gods, including the God Apollo, constitutes some of the most important specimens and they are housed in what remains of two Roman villas in Paphos, dating back to the 3rd century AD.

Open daily 9am - 7:30pm (summer) 9am - 5pm (winter) Small admission fee.

Mosaics were a customary embellishment to most dining rooms in luxury villas of this era. These particular mosaics are named after the Greek Gods depicted therein, namely Dionysos and Aion.

THE HOUSE OF DIONYSOS

Villas Paphos



This mosaic shows the Greek God Dionysos reproaching the nymph Akme and counselling moderation as the nymph is shown drinking wine from a bowl


(a scene that probably many of us have experienced as part of our own Cyprus history).




King Icarios of Athens, it appears, did not possess the moral standing of the Greek God Dionysos in counselling moderation. In another scene, he is shown encouraging shepherds to drink and over-indulge in what is their first taste of wine.

Other mosaics depict Dionysos the Greek God of wine riding in a chariot which is drawn by two panthers on his return from India and the Greek God Apollo, sitting in judgement of a mere mortal.

THE HOUSE OF AION

Cyprus history proclaims Aion as the Greek God of eternity. This house has an amazing five-panelled mosaic which shows the Greek God Aion in the unenviable position of having to judge what appears to be a beauty contest.

'Unenviable?!', I hear our modern day Gods proclaim.

The difference in this beauty contest is that his choice lies between the ordinary and smug looking Queen Cassiopeia and a number of much prettier, but unhappy looking Nereides water nymphs.

I'm sure that all of you will be able to guess who is the eventual winner!!

There are two more houses open to the public and these are the Villa of Theseus and the House of Orpheus and both are worth a look to learn a little more about the stories the mosaics tell of the Greek Gods and their part in Cyprus history. Only a small part of The House of Orpheus ( 2nd - 3rd cent.A.D.) has been excavated so far by the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. The excavations uncovered a peristyle atrium in part of the house and some of the rooms are decorated with multicoloured mosaics. One of the mosaics represents Heracles and the lion of Nermea and the largest and most important panel shows one of the Greek Gods Orpheus playing his lyre.

Cyprus History


I found it quite hard to tire of the mosaics and their intriguing stories of the Greek Gods, but there is more to be seen. Take a short walk north and this will lead to the Odean, a restored amphitheatre dating back to the 2nd century AD. The amphitheatre is used regularly in summer to stage musical and theatrical performances and can seat up to 1,250 spectators. Whilst in this vicinity, take a stroll up the path next to the lighthouse to remind yourself why you chose to make a visit to Paphos. From this vantage point you can look out along the coast towards the beautiful Akamas Peninsula and even get a glimpse of more Paphos history and what is on offer at The Tomb of The Kings.

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THE TOMBS OF THE KINGS

Tomb of The Kings Open daily 9am - 7:30pm (summer) 9am - 5pm (winter) Small admission fee.


Spread over a vast area, these impressive subterranean burial chambers were built from 3rd Century BC to the 3rd Century AD and have an important place in Cyprus history. They are carved out of solid rock with some being decorated with Doric pillars. The magnificence of the tombs gave the locality its name. In Egyptian tradition, it was felt that tombs should resemble the houses of the living as the tomb was to be the house of the dead which is why they are so beautifully decorated. This 'City of the Dead' is an imitation of the city of the living and reflects the architecture and decorative embellishments of this time in Cyprus history.

Put on your walking shoes and climbing pants and don't be afraid to get yourself a little dirty at this site, because I honestly believe, if you are willing and able to have a little bit of a scramble, you will get the most out of a few hours at this site. When I visited in March 2005 the entrance fee was a mere 75 cents and worth every one of them.

Do not be misled by the title of this site. These subterranean burial chambers were in fact built in an era when Paphos actually had no kings. Don't let this fact put you off though because the tombs are imposing and awe inspiring enough to suggest that people of great importance were laid to rest in here. The excavations have revealed Doric columns in spacious courtyards that date back to the 4th Century. Teams of archaeologists are constantly working on new excavations that uncover not only Neolithic remains, but those from The Bronze Age, and the Roman and Byzantine periods of Cyprus history.

Tomb of the Kings

Tomb of the Kings

As much as I found the stories of the Greek Gods depicted in the mosaics exciting, I feel The Tombs of The Kings will be enjoyed by all members of your party, whether male or female or young or old. I found it great fun to explore. It consists of some very atmospheric places (especially tombs 3, 4 and 8) and it may be an idea to take a torch, if you can find one, as this will help if you wish to take photos in the darker areas.

Please note though to keep a keen eye on the younger explorers in your group as there are a few very sudden drop offs that are not as protected as they could be.

One of my favourite places to visit and well worth the small admission fee during your Paphos holiday!

RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS

In March this year it was widely reported that exciting evidence had been discovered to show that the island was manufacturing and exporting perfumes as far back as 2,000 B.C. This important and significant find was uncovered during excavations in Limassol and is thought by archaeologists to be one of the most important entities in Cyprus history. The ancient finds will be permanently exhibited in the Limassol Archaeological Museum. Archaeologists have identified remnants of essences absorbed by the clay of the perfume bottles. An earthquake buried the ancient factory and preserved many workshop items such as pottery vessels in which traces of the perfume were found.


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The following reading material is recommended for your pleasure.
Alternatively visit our BOOK SHOP for further titles on the Greek Gods.

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