Petra Tou Romiou
Located along the shore, off the main Paphos to Limassol highway, Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite’s Rock, is a sea stack of such striking beauty that legend marks it as the birthplace of the goddess of love. After emerging from the waves at Petra tou Romiou, Aphrodite is then said to have chosen Paphos as the centre of her cult.
Another story connects Petra tou Romiou with the mythical Byzantine frontier guard, Digenis Akritas, whose superhuman strength saw him launch the ‘rock’ against marauding Saracen ships who had come to invade Cyprus.
Today, Petra tou Romiou is a justifiably popular tourist attraction, with its surrounding, crystal waters and beautiful beach providing an ideal holiday backdrop for swimming and long shore walks.
Located on the north-west tip of Cyprus, the Akamas Peninsula is one of the island’s most impressive natural areas, with 230 sq. km of valleys, gorges and wide sandy bays to discover and enjoy. Among the pristine waters and shores to explore on day trips are Akamas’s Blue Lagoon and Lara Beach, with equal pleasure available from hiking along the Akamas nature trails and Avaka Gorge.
For conservationists and nature lovers in particular, there are also 168 varieties of birds, 20 different reptiles, 16 species of butterfly and 12 species of mammals, to observe, as well as a rich variety of local flora to appreciate.
Baths of Aphrodite at Polis Chrysochous
Any trip to the Akamas Peninsula would be incomplete without a visit to the Baths of Aphrodite, a natural pool fed by a spring, surrounded by ferns and shaded by an ancient fig tree. The grotto is situated between Polis Chrysochous and Cape Arnaouti, past the fishing harbour of Latchi, at the end of the Aphrodite Trail.
The myths link the spot’s lush greenery with Cyprus’ love goddess Aphrodite who, according to legend, was bathing in the pool when she met the mortal hunter Adonis there, after he had stopped to refresh himself. Adonis is said to have fallen helplessly in love with the goddess the instant he drank from the waters, leading to their legendary passion.
Today, the idyllic spot offers visitors a breathtaking view of the Bay of Polis, with the waters of the pool being said to bless bathers with rejuvenation and youth.
Built in the Byzantine era to protect the town’s harbour, Paphos Fort is a popular tourist attraction for those exploring the town. The medieval structure was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled by the island’s Venetian masters, and then raised again in the 16th century, by Cyprus’ Ottoman rulers.
Boasting an impressive enclosed courtyard, as well as 12 roof battlements, Paphos Fort has been used for many purposes – including serving as a prison during the Ottoman era and as a salt store under the British administration.
Today, other than offering tourists a historical tour of the ages, the Paphos Fort is also the site of the island’s popular opera festival every September.