Palaipafos, also known as Palaepaphos, is an archaeological site near Kouklia village, Paphos, in Cyprus linked to the ancient cult of the “Great Goddess” of fertility. The oldest and most revered site at Palaipafos is the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, built by the Mycenaeans in circa 1200BC, around the time at which they settled in Cyprus.
Palaipafos remained a centre of religion and culture until the 4th century BC, when its last king, Nikokles, moved the capital to nearby Nea Paphos. Under the Romans, Palaipafos again became a focal point for culture and religion, then known as “Koinon Kyprion”.
The sites at Palaipafos come from a mix of historic periods including the Late Bronze Age and Ancient Rome. The site includes the ruins of the 2nd century AD Roman House of Leda, so named because its mosaics (housed at the Kouklia Museum) depict a scene from the tale of Leda and the Swan. Also at the site are the remains of the ancient fortifications of Palaipafos, which were originally built in the 8th century BC and some ruins of a 5th century BC building, probably the palace of the Persian governor of Palaipafos, Hadji Abdulla.
Remnants of the medieval period of the history of Palaipafos can also be seen, including the Church of Panagia Katholiki (circa 12th-13th century AD) and the Lusignian Manor House, built as an administrative centre in the 13th century.
The site was partially investigated from the beginning of the 19th century with systematic archaeological research taking place between 1950-55, resuming in 1966.
In September 1980, Palaipafos and Nea Pafos became the first Cypriot sites to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Getting to Palaipafos
The ancient town of Palaipafos is located within the limits of the modern village of Kouklia, situated close to the mouth of Diarizos river, 16 kilometres east of the modern town of Pafos.
A shuttle bus, number 631, runs to and from Kouklia from Kato Paphos Central Bus Station. There is also free parking available at Kouklia Municipal Parking.