On our recent Seabourn journey though the Mediterranean we had an interesting day in Cyprus. The island is ruled by two bodies. The northern third is under Turkish rule after the Turks invaded in 1974 and the southern two-thirds make up the Republic of Cyprus.
They are separated by an imaginary line, both sharing the capital city, Nicosia on the border.
We sailed into Paphos were the mythological goddess Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty was born. Along with her came the legendary upsurge of cult worship that lasted many centuries.
Very close to the port is a large archaeological dig, well worth a visit. It’s an ongoing project with people currently working on the site. For a couple of euros you can get entry to the ruins and some of the most impressive mosaics uncovered in the Mediterranean region. It’s part of the ancient town of Paphos, with new Paphos about 10 km away.
What has been uncovered among other things are four houses, including ‘The House of Dionysos.’
The House of Dionysos was discovered by chance more that 25 years ago during a land leveling exercise. Fragments of mosaics were found leading to the discovery of a large and wealthy residence from the Roman period. The villa occupies an area of about 2000 square metres of which 500 square metres are covered in mosaic floors. Many of the incredible mosaics depict mythological hunting and vintage images and have been pieced together with patience and love. It’s hard to believe they are as old as they are.
The house combines a Greco- Roman style and was constructed toward the end of the 2nd century AD. It is thought to have been ruined and abandoned after the devastating earthquakes that hit the island in the 4th century AD.
After exploring the ruins we headed inland to a notable monastery near the village of Panagia, about an hour’s drive from Paphos. The monastery was founded 1100 AD although the present structure dates back to the 1770’s.
It’s set in beautiful surroundings with an impressive collection of icons and treasures, now housed in a museum. A church lies in the middle of the monastery with numerous frescoes. The icon of Christ and the Virgin Mary are supposed to be painted by Apostle Luke and the Evangelist.
The tradition off painting icons still lives on in this small village with the skill being passed from generation to generation. The old age technique is based on the traditional orthodox art. Wood must be prepared with a linen gauze, chalk and glue and then painted with coloured egg yolk and vinegar. Each icon is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity and stamp fo approval of the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus.