It was a beautiful sunny day when we woke up in Paphos this morning, and after nearly 10 hours sleep we were feeling a lot more awake. We had a relaxing breakfast on the terrace, before setting out to explore the town. Before I started planning our trip to Cyprus, my assumption had been that Paphos was just the sort of place people come for a beach holiday. Once I started reading the guidebook though, I realised that there were several archaeological sites around the town, and that was what we were hoping to see today.
Our first stop was the ruins of the Chrysopolitissa basilica.
These are the remains of an early Christian basilica, built in the 4th century AD, whose floor was entirely covered in mosaics. You can still see a bit of them today.
Within the ruins are the remains of a pillar (the one on the right), known as St Paul's pillar, which tradition says that St Paul was tied to and beaten during the course of a missionary visit to Cyprus.
There is also a smaller church, called Agia Kyriaki, which was built around 1500.
It was a really pretty place to walk around
And there weren't too many other tourists, which was good.
From the church, we walked down towards the seafront.
We wanted to see Paphos castle.
Originally built as a Byzantine fort, it was dismantled by the Venetians in 1570 but later restored by the Ottomans.
It's a very square castle, so it was difficult to take a good photo of it!
There were some nice views of the sea from the rocks beside it though.
Not far from the castle is the entrance to Paphos Archaeological Park.
It cost €4.50 each to get in, which felt like a bargain, because the park covers quite a large geographical area.
The main attraction of the park is the remains of four Roman villas.
They all have beautiful mosaic floors, which are very well preserved.
The most elaborate mosaics are in covered areas to protect them, but there were some that we could just wander around outside and look at too
That turned out to be a blessing, because there were some tour buses here, and some of the areas with covered walkways were incredibly busy if you had the misfortune to arrive at the same time as a tour group was being shown around.
We managed to push our way around a little bit to see some of the most impressive mosaics...
...but one villa in particular was so busy (with a group that looked like they had come off a cruise ship) that we had to give up and go back outside.
Happily there were plenty of Roman remains to see outside too
And away from the mosaics, the park was almost deserted.
We caught sight of a white lighthouse in the distance and decided to walk towards it.
While there are tonnes of British tourists in Paphos, the second biggest group of tourists here appears to be Russian. There are Russian signs everywhere; on estate agents, car rental agencies and restaurants. I'd even accidentally picked up the Russian version of the free map for the archaeological park and so I was able to learn the word for lighthouse: маяк
The lighthouse is comparatively modern, built in 1888 when Paphos was occupied by the British.
When we were walking towards it from the middle of the park it gave the bizarre impression of being inland, but once we got up closer we could see the sea
It was also nice that we could see inland a bit towards the interior of the island, which looks quite hilly
From the lighthouse it wasn't far to the remains of the Roman theatre.
The large flat space in front of the theatre is where the Roman forum once was, but there isn't much left of that now.
Beyond the forum, the far end of the park was really deserted and it was less clear what the various ruins were. We did find an enormous cactus though
As we walked back towards the centre of the park, we found what looked like the remains of a castle.
These are the remains of Saranta Kolones, a ruined fortress.
It's thought that it was built in the 7th century and was destroyed by a strong earthquake in the area in 1222.
From here we had a lovely view back towards the lighthouse
We'd seen the majority of the park now so we went outside, drank a very large bottle of water, and then started walking back in the direction of our apartment. Paphos' other main archaeological attraction is not far from where we are staying and has a rather ominous name: the Tombs of the Kings.
This slightly strange place is a world heritage site, consisting of a collection of underground tombs, dating back to around 4 BC.
This is where the aristocrats of ancient Paphos would have been buried.
The whole site is on a beautiful location by the sea.
It was quite breezy here, which was nice on what had otherwise been a very warm day.
I thought better of sitting on the wall though once I saw the size of the local lizards
You could probably have stayed here a lot longer if you were interested in tombs.
We may only have stayed for about 20 minutes, before going back to the apartment to cool down for a while
In the late afternoon we went out again and walked in the opposite direction to normal, climbing uphill towards the higher town of Ktima Paphos. The guidebook had said that the old town here was interesting, but we failed to find it very photogenic. The most attractive building was this enormous mosque, located in what was historically the Turkish part of town.
The mosque was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, on the remains of what was a Byzantine church.
Once we'd seen the mosque, we walked back down the hill towards the lower town. We had dinner at a restaurant not far from the apartment, which involved some rather impressive desserts
Tomorrow we're picking up our hire car and looking forward to exploring some more of the island