The Villas of Paphos

Anastasia Bartzi | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Pa[phos](, -the capital of Paphos District-, is coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and one of the most important kingdoms that have ever existed in the ancient years. Between others, Paphos was  also known as "Aphrodite's center of worship". The city is divided into two parts, the "Ano Paphos" that is known as Ktima -where the city center is located- and "Kato Paphos" -where all the touristic attractions are located at. In addition, Paphos is included in the official UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures  for its ancient remains and it was selected as a European Capital of culture for 2017.

So what about to stroll around the archaeological park of Kato Paphos?

The park is located in Kato Paphos and it is still under excavation. It is located within the Nea Paphos and the coastal city. It is one of the most important monuments of Cyprus and its history dates back from the prehistoric times to the Middle Age. Among the most important remains discovered so far are four Roman villas: the House of Dionysos, the House of Aion, the House of Theseus and the House of Orpheus. Also there have been uncovered an Agora, an Odeion, a Basilica, an Hellenistic-Roman Theater and a necropolis, known as the "Tombs of the Kings".

Today we will stroll around the four villas of the park, so as to discover all the mosaic floors and of course, the stories and legends that they hide.

The House of Dionysos took its name from the known "God of wine" and it is a luxury building of the Roman period, which belongs to the Hellenistic type of housing. This means that it is built in a way that the rooms develop around a courtyard, which constitutes the center of the building. It has been built in the end of the 2nd century A.C and it was destroyed by the earthquakes at the beginning of the 4th century.

It is a villa that occupies 2000 m2, 556 of which are covered with mosaic floors. Those mosaic floors are covered with representations of hunting scenes, as well as with mythological and vintage scenes. In this villa, a hellenistic peddle mosaic representing the mythical sea-monster Scylla, was found and preserved for years.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/johncopland

The House of Aion is considered to have one of the most exceptional mosaic floors of ancient Roman art, that has been excavated so far. Only three rooms have been excavated, but it is this villa that is considered to be the most important. It is said, that it is one of the most enigmatic and fervent works of the Roman art. It dates back to the mid 4th century A.D and it was named after the god Aion, that appears on one of the mosaic floors. 

The main mosaic, that it is located in the main room, contains 3 horizontal frames with 5 panels, all surrounded by a geometric frame.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/Ekaterina79

It used to be the residence of the Roman proconsul or governor. The house of Theseus was divided between rooms for official functions and rooms for private use. It was built during the 2nd century A.D on the ancient ruins of older Hellenistic and Roman period buildings. It is said that this villa consists of 100 rooms and the house has been inhabited until the 7th century. Almost all of the rooms are covered with mosaic floors, which belong to three different historical phases.

In one of those mosaics, God Theseus makes** his appearance and this is why the house was apparently named after him. It is one of the most ancient mosaics and it is dated back to the end of the 3rd century. It displays Theseus fighting with the Minotaur in the labyrinth.** Also another mosaic was added at the end of the 5th century, representing the first bath of the newborn Achilles.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/Vadim_Nefedov

This house lies to the west of Theseus villa. It is a luxury building , like the house of Dionysus, and belongs to the Hellenistic type of housing. It is dated to the end of the 2nd century, beginning of 3rd A.D. This villa is decorated with mosaic floors, the greatest of which represents Orpheus amongst animals. Another mosaic of importance inside the house, displays Hercules and the Nemea lion along with an Amazonian and a horse.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto/Elena Odareeva

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