KOUKLIA HISTORY

SOME HISTORY FOR KOUKLIA

Kouklia is the ancient capital of Cyprus – Palaipafos (ancient Pafos), 16 kilometres east of the modern town of Pafos. The site of Palaipafos and its surrounding area are linked to an ancient cult associated with the “Great Goddess”, the goddess of fertility, who was subsequently called Venus or Aphrodite worshiped in Cyprus since the Neolithic period. The Myceneans, who settled on the island at the beginning of the 12th century, adopted the worship of Aphrodite and erected a sanctuary in her honour. According to tradition, Kinyras, the local legendary king, was the founder and first High Priest of the sanctuary. Another legend, however, mentions Agapenor, the king of Tegea in Arcadia, Greece, as the founder of the city and the sanctuary.

Palaipafos remained the largest rural and religious centre of western Cyprus, from the beginning of the Geometric period until the end of the Classical period. When the last King of Palaipafos, Nikokles, moved his capital at the end of the 4th century B.C. to the newly- founded Nea Pafos, the town retained its importance thanks to the continuation of the cult at the temple of Aphrodite. During the Roman period it became the centre of the newly established ‘KoinonKyprion’, (the ‘Confederation of the Cypriots’), which dealt with religious affairs and the cult of Aphrodite, of other Gods and the Roman emperor. It also controlled the island’s bronze coinage.

The Sanctuary of Aphrodite is 50 meters east of Liopetro Venue. It is one of the most important sanctuaries of Aphrodite throughout the ancient world. It is mentioned by Homer and other Greek and Latin authors. The surviving remains of the sanctuary form two groups of buildings: in the south was the first shrine of Aphrodite, Sanctuary I, built in the Late Bronze Age. It consists of an open court (temenos), surrounded by a monumental wall comprised of enormous limestone blocks. Its western side and part of its south side are preserved along with a hall, which housed a conical baetyl in its centre symbolising the power of the Great Goddess. The baetyl also adorned the Roman shrine, Sanctuary II, which was erected in the north at the end of the 1st or the beginning of the 2nd century A.D. The new Roman buildings enclose a spacious open court at the south, east and north.

In September 1980, Palaipafos joined the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

PanagiaOdigitria (Church of Virgin Mary the Guider): located forthwith west of the Temple of Venus. It was built in the 12th AD and follows the architectural type of free cross with a dome. It must have been for some time the Community Church of the village of Kouklia. The western part was extended in the 16th century. The interior is decorated with murals that reflect the traditional Byzantine folklore style of the 15th century.