On the last day the weather was fine, we had put the coach trip mistake to the Troodos Mountains behind us and we took a final walk from our hotel to Paphos along the sea front, a very pleasant stroll of just over three miles.
My plan, but not Kim’s was to visit the UNESCO archaeological site. We walked around the perimeter fence which was broken down in places and some people were avoiding the entrance fee by climbing through. Even free entry could not persuade Kim to make the visit so we walked on past the castle and through the harbour area with its persistent waiters inviting us to sit down and eat and then to the seafront café that we had taken a liking to.
As we sat in the Spring sunshine we debated an option to rip up our return airline tickets and stay in Cyprus a while longer but came to the conclusion that this would be rather reckless so we abandoned the idea.
We went our separate ways now, Kim took the bus back to the hotel to go the spa and I went to the archaeological site which was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1980.
The World Heritage list has been around for over sixty years as a consequence of events in 1954 when the government of Egypt announced that it was to build the Aswan Dam, a project that proposed to flood a valley containing priceless treasures of ancient civilizations. Despite opposition from Egypt and neighbouring Sudan, UNESCO launched a worldwide safeguarding campaign, over fifty countries contributed and the Abu Simbel and Philae temples were taken apart, moved to a higher location, and put back together piece by piece. At last the World was collectively protecting its treasures.
The site was good value at €2.50 (seniors rate) and I spent over two hours going over about a two thousand five hundred year old city which turns out to be the most important Greeko/Roman archaeological site in Cyprus.
After the Greeks came the Romans and they adapted the city to their own style and and here I walked around the remains of the Forum, the Temples, the Amphitheatre and sections of the old city wall and inside these the public baths and the once grand villas of the city patricians. It wasn’t on the scale of Pompeii or Herculaneum of course but as only an estimated 20% of the site has been excavated then who knows what treasures lay buried under the parched dusty fields.
The site was only discovered in 1962 so having lay undisturbed for hundreds of years a lot of treasures that might have been lost to looters is still there, especially the very fine mosaic floors which in turn are being restored and moved to a vast indoor exhibition hall.
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
After the Romans left the city was used by the Egyptians, Arab caliphates, the French Lusignan dynasty and then in the Middle Ages it began to be dismantled and used as a quarry and a convenient source of building materials for new towns and villages along the coastline.
We often think that development is all about continuous progress but that is quite wrong.
This is something that has always perplexed me. The Romans built a great city with roads and aqueducts, fresh water and sewage and waste disposal systems, grand villas decorated with mosaics and statues and then medieval man came along during the dark ages and tore them down – not to build something better but to construct something significantly inferior.
I would like to have overheard the town planning debates and the rationale applied to do this. “We don’t need stone roads”, they’d probably say “a muddy track will do just as well.” “We don’t need all these fancy sewers, we’ll dig a hole in the garden!” “We can’t really see the point of all these aqueducts and fresh water filtration systems, we’ll just drink the dirty river water!” “And finally we don’t need all of these fine villas with air conditioning and shady gardens, we’ll take them down and use the stone to make the foundations for some mud huts!”
I spent a couple of hours at the site and could have stayed much longer but it was late afternoon by now so I left and took the three mile walk along the coastal path back to the hotel.
For our last evening we dined at the cheap kebab restaurant and were entertained by a British ex-pat explaining how good life was and his Russian companion who had clearly overdone the vodka. We had walked nearly twelve miles today.
We had enjoyed Cyprus and once again contemplated stopping longer but by next morning were ready to go home. We actually got to stay a few hours longer in Cyprus than we had anticipated however because a fault with the Easyjet plane led to a five hour delay.
The compensation came in handy!