Pafos: A Stroll through Time and Place
Pafos is a place full of light. This sunny coastal town on the western side of the island is the most westerly part in Cyprus. The atmosphere being so luminous, the mild climates, the variety of scenery, the shrines of art and civilisation, which are scattered all over the land, are the most important characteristics of the area. Light, sea, sun: three very ancient words still used today by the same people in the same place, label the area of Pafos. It is washed by the sea to the west, the south and the north. In the past these seas were called the Kilikian (to the north), the Pamfylian (to the west) and the Egyptian (to the south). The natural setting produces a climate that is unique in the whole of Cyprus. The winter, of short duration, is mild, while the summer, the lengthiest of the four seasons, is cool.
The cold north winds stop at the low mountains in the middle of the region. They cannot reach the coastal grasslands of Pafos. In the town of Pafos, the hill of Mousallas was, according to the geologists, only a few metres from the sea. The waves came up to the foot of the hill.
Pafos was a cradle of religions. Here the eastern goddess Astarte was adored, Hellenised as the goddess of fertility and love and took the name of Aphrodite, a name which was so closely related to the place of worship that she was called the Paphian. Paphian Aphrodite befalls in many ancient Latin and Greek fictional texts. It was also here in Pafos that the new belief of Christianity, which also came from the east, was officially received. The first Christian official in the whole of the Roman Empire was the Governor of Pafos, which in those times was the capital of Cyprus.
Pafos today, as full of light as ever, ranges over the hill which rules the small valley broadening green down to the sea. It enjoys the cool and perfumed air which starts from the sea, passes across Mousallas and the church, the market place and the squares, bringing with it the voice of past centuries, each of which leaves its own traces. One can trace the antiquity of this town in its old buildings, its wrecked marble, the stones which have endured time and the destruction brought by the various conquerors, and in its people.