by Janis / 0 comments

Ancient relics at your feet

The historic coastal city of Paphos is located on the far southwestern shores of Cyprus, where crystal blue seas stretch as far as the eye can see. Here on the island’s tip, thousands of years of rich history can be explored.

The captivating location you’ll undoubtedly want to visit in the ancient city Paphos is the astounding UNESCO Nea Pafos Archaeological Site.

The breath-taking prehistoric ruins just by Paphos harbour were inscribed onto the World Heritage Site in 1980, along with the Tombs of the Kings further around the bay.

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The modern stone entrance to the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
The entrance to the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
You’ll be astonished at how vast the Kato Pafos Archaeological Site is and what you’re able to discover amongst its ancient pathways. For just €4.50, you’ll be exploring temples and mosaics from incredibly early civilisations of the Neolithic period through the Hellenistic and Roman eras and onto the Byzantine times. This archaeological park is amazing.
An wide set of steps, between palm trees, leading up to the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
Steps from the entrance

Where is the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site

How to get to there

- By Air
Here are your UK departure options for Jet2 flights to Cyprus;

  • Belfast (BFS)
  • Birmingham (BHX)
  • Bristol (BRS)
  • East Midlands (EMA)
  • Edinburgh (EDI)
  • Glasgow Intl (GLA)
  • Leeds Bradford (LBA)
  • London Stansted (STN)
  • Manchester (MAN)
  • Newcastle (NCL)

The House of Aion

Intricate mosaics from the 4th-century AD

The Kato Pafos Archaeological Park is one of the most significant sites in Cyprus and houses ruins dating from the 4th century BC to the Middle Ages and is still being excavated today.

The first stop on our self-guided tour was to the villa of The House of Aion. Located here are some of the most detailed mosaics in the Archaeological Park dating from the middle of the 4th-century AD. The protected Roman mosaics are within a covered building, and the principal artefacts depict different mythological scenes.

A colourful, near-complete mosaic in what would have been the House of Aion in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
A mosaic in the House of Aion
These mosaics are incredibly intricate, and their position is believed to have been the Reception Hall of the villa. This is just a small part of the large Roman villa, which is still to be excavated further.

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The Villa of Theseus

The grandest house of them all
The House of Theseus was built during the second half of the 2nd-century AD. It was constructed over earlier ruins from the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. The floorplan of the House of Theseus is vast; the villa would have once contained more than 100 rooms.
An open-air, colourful circular mosaic in the House of Theseus in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
A mosaic in the House of Theseus

The huge size of the villa indicates that it would have been the residence of the Governor of Cyprus. The villa was occupied until the 7th-century AD.

Stepping up onto the raised platform within the archaeological park, you get a true indication of its enormity. The building was organised in four wings and surrounded by a central collonaded courtyard.

A row of open-air sandstone columns in what would have been the House of Aion in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
Columns in the House of Theseus

Beautiful mosaic floors can still be seen amongst the ruins and detailed symmetrical motifs. Mosaics were still being added to the villa during the 5th-century. The prominent and oldest mosaic represents Theseus and the Minotaur, which dates from the end of the 3rd-century or early 4th.

What I found unbelievable is the access you are allowed with the archaeological site; you’re rubbing shoulders with thousands of years of breath-taking history.

An open-air, near-complete mosaic in what would have been the House of Theseus in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
A large mosaic floor in the House of Theseus
Nearby to the House of Theseus is the House of Orpheus which would have been typical of a Greco-Roman House from the 3rd-century AD. This area has only a small portion excavated; however, it revealed significant mosaics, one depicting Hercules and the lion of Nemea. Unfortunately, they are currently not on view.

The House of Dionysos

Astounding intricate mosaics
It’s astounding strolling around the park; it’s so peaceful. With its positioning on the Cyprus coastline, you get magnificent views across the Mediterranean Sea.
Looking down from the raised viewing platform to the mosaic flooring in the House of Dionysos in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
Mosaic flooring in the House of Dionysos
Looking down from the raised viewing platform to a hunting scene mosaic on the floor of the House of Dionysos in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
A hunting scene mosaic in the House of Dionysos

Our next stunning sight was at the House of Dionysos. This Greco-Roman type of house once occupied 2,000sq metres, and the rooms are arranged around a central court.

Incredibly 556 metres of the House of Dionysos are covered with intricate mosaics. To protect the importance of this excavation, a building has been erected over the floors. You can stroll around a raised platform to fully appreciate the detail of the scenes of the mosaics.

Many of the floors are decorated with hunting scenes and the Greek god of wine, Dionysos, whom the house is named after.

A mosaic featuring two characters on the floor of the House of Dionysos in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
A detailed mosaic in the House of Dionysos
The House of Dionysos was built at the end of the 2nd-century AD; it was abandoned in the 4th-century after being destroyed by an earthquake. There is evidence from a pebble mosaic that the house was built upon a Hellenistic building found below the Roman one.

The striking Odeon

Overlooking the ancient Agora

The magnificent ancient Odeon, which is a 2nd-century theatre, looks stunning. Since its discovery, the amphitheatre has gradually been restored and is now often used for theatrical and musical performances. I can imagine it would be amazing watching an open-air production here.

It is built of carved limestone and is believed to have been used by the Romans until the 5th-century.

Looking down at the tiers of seats from the top of the semi-circular Odeon theatre in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
The Odeon

The Odeon overlooks the vast Agora or forum, which was once a central square court. It must have looked magnificent when it was originally surrounded by four porticos of granite columns and white marble.

The whole complex of the Odeon, Agora and the Asklepieion dates from the 2nd-century BC to the 2nd-century AD.

Looking up at the tiers of stone seats from the centre of the semi-circular Odeon theatre in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
The Odeon Theatre

Exploring Toumpallos

Going underground

The Toumpallos part of the Paphos archaeological park is fascinating. It is a complex of underground halls, caves and corridors carved into the natural rock. It’s quite bizarre.

Once again, you are free to discover the site at your own risk and venture off and explore the underground passageways as you wish.

Looking down at a complex of underground caves in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site known as the Toumpallos.
The Toumpallos
Apparently, the complex was initially identified as a Ptolemaic (ancient Greek) army camp. However, more recently, it is believed that the Toumpallos functioned as a temple dedicated to the god Apollo. The area is still being excavated further.
Walking through a complex of underground halls in the Toumpallos area of Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
Inside the Toumpallos

The Saranda Kolones

The castle of Forty Columns
This area of the Paphos Archaeological Site is equally impressive. The castle of Forty Columns known as Saranda Kolones is south of the forum and nearby Paphos port.
A surviving stone arch in the castle of Forty Columns, or Saranda Kolones, in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
Part of Saranda Kolones

The castle was built around the 7th-century AD; this historic landmark has many preserved granite columns, hence the name. The castle would have once served to protect the port and the city of Nea Pafos from potential Arab raids.

The Saranda Kolones remained in use until 1223, after a devastating earthquake destroyed it.

The Lighthouse

An icon in Paphos
Ok, so the lighthouse wasn’t built by the Romans. It was constructed in 1888 during the British administration on the peninsula known as Paphos Point.
A 19th-century, white, British built lighthouse at Paphos point, which is now in the Nea Pafos Archaeological Site
The lighthouse at Paphos Point

It has become quite a landmark across the Paphos skyline and is situated 36 metres above sea level.

The lighthouse acted as a landfall marker for ships heading for Paphos harbour from the UK. Its flashing light can be visible for 17 nautical miles.

Good to know

Tips on visiting the historic Nea Pafos Archaeological Site

The sites are partially wheelchair accessible.

The archaeological site is open all year round, excluding public holidays.

Summer entrance times: 16th April to 15th September, 08:30 - 19:30
Winter entrance times: 16th September to 15th April, 08:30 - 17:00

The entrance fee is €4.50

In my opinion, you will need to allow at least 2 hours to explore the ancient park as it is incredibly fascinating.

Don’t forget to download the UNESCO app when you arrive; it is full of interesting facts to help you navigate the site.

Ensure you’ve doused yourself in sun-cream. Don’t make the same mistake as me, as there are very few shady spots.

Venturing off with Jet2holidays to Paphos

The perfect way to relax and enjoy Cyprus

Jet2holidays offers several departure locations around the UK, we selected to hop aboard the Jet2holidays flight from London Stansted Airport. Stansted Airport is easily accessible by car from the M11 motorway. You can catch the Stansted Express rail link from London Liverpool Street, which departs every 15 minutes.

If you choose the driving option, you can book your car parking through the Jet2 Extras website, and you’ll also get a discount.

The Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos pool area, lined with palm trees under a clear blue sky.
The pool area of the Olympic Lagoon Resort, Paphos

Our experience during our Jet2 flights to Cyprus was incredibly smooth and stress-free.
When you hop off your flight at your chosen destination, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that your hotel transfer awaits. Also included in your package holiday to Paphos, you’ll have a generous baggage allowance of 22kg and a hand luggage allowance of 10kg.

If you wish to make the whole in-flight experience even less stressful, you can pre-book your seats and meals for a charge.

Additionally, ensure you download the Jet2holidays app; it is effortless to manage your booking.

The main pool in front of the terrace at the Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos as the sun goes down.
The Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos

If your perfect break is relaxing under palm trees by the poolside of a stunning all-inclusive beachfront resort, we highly recommend the 5-star Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos with Jet2holidays.

The beautiful Olympic Lagoon Resort surpassed all our expectations, from the moment we stepped through the doors and observed the ocean view beyond until we said our final farewells to the ancient city of Paphos.

This was our first adventure on an all-inclusive holiday with Jet2holidays, so it would be a new and enjoyable experience all around.

Discovering more of Paphos

If you want to discover more of Cyprus, then why not check out our post 'Escape to the winter sun in Paphos, Cyprus.'

Stroll along the coastal path to the harbour, explore its historical sites, or even pick up a car with Jet2 Extras and venture further afield.

Disclaimer

We were invited to Cyprus as guests of Jet2holidays to stay at the Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos. However, all our views, opinions and personal experiences are our own.

Would we recommend a winter sun stay at the Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos with Jet2holidays? Unequivocally yes, we would return tomorrow. You instantly start to unwind and feel a wave of relaxation flow through you.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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