Myths of Paphos, Cyprus

It seems sometimes that every other villa for rent in Paphos is named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite, but it is hardly surprising, as the cult worship of the goddess centred around the town.

The Cult of Kyprida Aphrodite

Petra tou Romiou in Paphos Cyprus The myths concerning Kyprida Aphrodite, or Cyprus Aphrodite, have a distinctive local flavour. In ancient Greek legend, Aphrodite was the daughter of Uranus, and was created when Chronos cut off the great god's genitals and threw them into the sea. From the resulting foam, Aphrodite was created, and drifted ashore at the rock formation known as Petra tou Romiou.

Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, so the Olympian gods, fearful of the effect of her beauty, married her to the lame god of metalworkers, Hepaestus. However, Aphrodite was frequently unfaithful, and even when her husband trapped her and her lover Ares in a net as proof positive to the other gods, she still got away with just a warning!

The Cult of Aphrodite in Cyprus

The cult of Aphrodite in Cyprus was established long before a temple was built to her on the hillside at Palea Paphos around 1500BC. The cult probably emerged from the worship of a much earlier goddess of desire, known as Ishtar, as idols have been found on the site dating from as early as 3800BC. The town of Palea Paphos grew up around the original Greek temple, and by the time of the Roman writer Virgil, it was said that there were a hundred alters to Aphrodite in Paphos alone.

Visiting the Sanctuary of Aphrodite

The Sabncturay of Aphrodite is east of Paphos town, and an easy drive from any of our Paphos villas for rent. The original site of the temple has suffered since it was abandoned in the 4th century AD, and what you can see today mainly dates from the 1st century AD, when the Romans rebuilt the sanctuary. The goddess herself was represented by a conical stone, now in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia. An image on a Roman coin shows that this cone was originally housed under a tower. The Sanctuary site museum is housed in an old Lusignan manor house, and displays smaller phallic idols found at the site.

Palaepafos Aphrodite Cultural Route

The Cyprus Tourist Office produces a leaflet detailing a route between ancient sites associated with Aphrodite; pick up a copy at the Tourist Office in Paphos.

Other Legends of Paphos: Petra tou Romiou

Aphrodite is not the only mythical figure to be associated with this natural rocky outcrop. One legend tells of the hero Digenis, who loved Rigaina, and promised her whatever she wished if she married him. Rigiana wanted fresh water brought to her house, so Digenis laid clay pipes to bring fresh water from miles away. However, the ungrateful Rigaina didn't keep her promise, so Digenis threw a rock at her house, hence the arrival of the feature we see today! In another version, the hero (known in Byzantine times as Dhiyenis Akritas, or Romios) threw the rock to defend the island against pirates. Whichever legend you wish to believe, the beach is a very popular place for couples of all ages to sit together and watch the sunset over the rock.