The moment that you step foot into the Paphos district village of Kouklia, you know you’ve entered special territory, as you discover the very spot where the ancient kingdom of Palaipafos (old Pafos) once stood. And just how ‘special’ is ‘Palaepaphos’? To put it simply: very! Not only is it one of the most important ancient kingdoms on the island, it’s also one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centres of the ancient Greek world. We give you five great reasons that you should add Kouklia to your weekend bucket list!
1. There’s a cute little village centre to walkthrough
It may not be the prettiest village on the island, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of quiet village life with a stroll through the area. Many local folk still potter about at the slow pace that they used to, and a few gorgeous old buildings have been restored to their former glory. And Kouklia is relatively unspoilt too; just kick back at one of the central coffee shops in the village square and enjoy watching the world go by.
2. It’s home to a stunning must-see church
The church of Panagia Odigitria (the Guiding Virgin Mary) is an incredibly special place to see. Dating back to the 12th century, it has been said that a Pegan temple was once standing here, which collapsed during an earthquake, before the existing church was built, with expenses paid for by the village folk. Surrounded by stone arches on the outside, once you step inside you’ll be mesmerized by the impressive icons and frescoes, depicting the Prophets, the Twelve Apostles and more.
3. You can step into the past at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite
There’s good reason why Palaepaphos was one of the most important pilgrimage centres of the ancient world – it’s the home of the famous Sanctuary of Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility. The remains of the Sanctuary of Aphrodite date back to the 12th century B.C. while a great number of writers, including Homer, once referred to the sanctuary as the most revered temple in the world. Step into the museum housed in a Lusignan Manor, to catch a glimpse of interesting finds from the area.
4. There’s a foodie feast to be had at Thanasis Place
What would a visit to a traditional village be like without some delicious local fare? You can tuck into all the meze favourites at Thanasis Place, with a shaded patio area luring diners in the warmer months, and traditional interior providing the ideal place to indulge in the colder winter months.
5. Feel the creative buzz at Kouklia Arts Centre
Facing the central Kouklia Square, this cute little place is a real village gem; the building itself is a beautiful stone village house that has been restored and well preserved. Functioning as an arts centre, crafts centre and school, arty types flock here to learn the tricks of the trade in an inspiring – and very pretty – environment.