Kouklia village lies in the South West of Cyprus, just 16 kilometres away from the city of Pafos, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Beauty.
Kouklia is built on an altitude of 85 meters from the sea level and receives on average 420 mm of rain annually. The weather is mainly hot and dry during the summer months, and cooler with rains over the winter. Agriculture thrives in this fertile and blessed land. The two forests, Randi in the south east and Oreites in the northeast, contribute to the character of the village.
As of 2001, Kouklia is the home of 669 residents. The love and care of the village is evident in the well preserved buildings and streets. The people of Kouklia are distinguished for the respect of the sacred and the holy. There are numerous numbers of churches, chapels and ruins around the village giving it a true historical charm.
The village is very well developed. There is a regional elementary school, a health care centre and a police station. In the village square you can find cafes and taverns that offer scrumptious food and entertainment.
The combination of the mountains, the sea, the history and the undoubtable natural beauty create a wondrous landscape.
Petra tou Romiou
A few mile before you reach Pafos you will come across one of the most well known beaches of the island, Petra tou Romiou beach. It combines the beach with the roughness of the mountains.
On the seaside, a famous atoll stands. There is a legend about a well known man named Digenis Akritas. Digenis threw a rock from the mountains of Troodos to stop the Saracen raiders from invading. The legend suggests that the atoll was part of an enormous oyster, and more specifically the oyster that carried the Goddess Aphoride to the island. Another tale suggests that during ancient years the beach was named “Achnoi” because that is where the “Achaeans” debarked when they were returning from the Trojan War.
The legends surrounding the Petra, alongside the beach, the sun and the azure sky make up an unforgettable scenery.
Venus Temple was one of the largest religious centres of the ancient greek world.
The temple covers the area between the southern houses of the villages and the “Tsifliki”.
Like the Petra tou Romiou the founding of Pafia Venus’s temple is linked with the Trojan War. A myth states that the temple was built by a man on his return from Troia, Apaninoras. Another tradition mentions that the Temple was built by king Kiniras who lived during the time of the Trojan War.
The conical stone in the altar is the representation of Aphrodite. During celebrations the stone was covered in oil. Offers of fire and incense where made in the outside altar. It is said that prostitution was part of the rituals.
Palaipafos altar resembles more of Eastern Mediterranean type rather than a Ancient Greek one. Roman money portray it as a three part; tripartite altar which is seen in Eastern Architecture.
Excavations have shown that the Altar suffered severe damages over centuries. It was abandoned by the end of the 4th century a.c. It was later used for sugar cane cultivations during the 15th and 16th century. This was a profitable business on eastern side of Cyprus.
The ruins still standing are separated in two buildings; the Roman Altar II in the northern side and the Holy Altar I which lies on the southern side of the first one. The first ones was constructed in 77AC and the latter one around 1200 BC
The altar of Aphrodite Palaipafos is often compared to Delphi, one of the most important religious centres in the ancient world, if not the most important.
It appears that the worship of the goddess of fertility started in this part of the island, as it is said that the goddess was born in the shores of Pafos. The people considered her to possess distinctive maternal characteristics.
By the 12th century BC, Palaipafos was a rich kingdom. There are two stories surrounding the Palaipafos. It has been said that king Kiniras of Pafos was a very wealthy man but also a priest of Aphrodite and built Palaipafos. But also that upon his return from Troy King Agapinoras built the town and the temple of Aphrodite.
The goddess was represented with a conical stone, which was placed in the middle part of the triplicate outdoor building until the Roman era. It is said that the goddess Aphrodite was born in Petra tou Romiou. The worship of standing stones is linked with eastern religions.
A conical stone was found near the altar and it is placed in the village museum.
A priest carried out the ceremonies in the altar. The first known priest is King Kyniras. The descendants of the priest simultaneously became priests as well. In addition all Kings of Pafos were named priests as well. It has been said that the altar priests, once a year were married to the priestess to ensure the fertility and well-being of the land and the people.
According to ancient writers, tobacco, honey and flowers were amongst the things offered to the goddess. The believers also donated statues and valuables; such as gold. Every year, musical theatrical, poetic and athletic events were organised in honour of the Goddess as people believed that the Goddess had a major impact on their lives.
During the rise of Christianity, worshippers of the goddess began to decline. It was later destroyed and damaged by large scale earthquakes.
The Hill of Markellos
At Markellos hill you can find the Northeast Gate of Palaipafos which was one of the most important bulwarks of the ancient fortress. It is situated near the Arximandrita village road, only 600 meters away from the village.
Recent findings show that the defense construction included a gate, a wall surrounding the city and a rectangular tower. These were all built around 700 BC .
The city wall was almost 6.5 metres thick. The gate on its own was a very powerful, complex building. Initially the gate was 12.5 meters but after some centuries its width decreased to under three metres.
During their invasion against Palaipafos the Persians created a ditch that covered the entire region outside the walls. To built their dyke the Persians used building material, from an altar they destroyed outside the city, clay and branches. The 500 peaks and arrows reveal signs of a battle.
The ditch was undermined when four underground tunnels were made. The first tunnel it is still intact. We are unaware whether these tunnels changed the fate of the war as there is evidence to show that the gate was burnt and destroyed by enemies. During the 4th century BC the people could not get rid of the embankment so they made it part of their defense.
City wall and Palace
Within the Xatzi Aptoullah position lies another part of the city wall and the Palace. It is about 150 meters southeast of the northeast gate. According to findings this was an administrative building home of the king of Palaipafos. It was built during the 6th century or in the early years of the 5th century. It has narrow corridors and small rooms with bulky walls. It is situated in the inner side of the wall. It was inhabited during the classical era but it collapsed around the end of the 4th century.
Evidence of the sugar manufacture of the area is the sugar mill situated at “Stavros” where the Louisianans chose to build their sugar factory facilities. The mill was used from the late 13th century until the end of the 16th century.
The olive mill situated here has been declared by Unesco as a protected monument and world heritage. It is located at “Styllarka”. It consists of two monoliths, a presser and five tanks. This olive mill is one of the few well preserved.
Regaina Cave is a royal tomb of the late Classical era. According to inscriptions king Timocharis and Exchetimos of Pafos were buried here.
Museum of Kouklia
The museum is situated in the east wing of the Louisianian mansion. This is located in the archaeological site of Kouklia village.
The findings are displayed it the two mansion halls.
In the first hall items from Aphrodite’s Sanctuary are displayed here as well as the conical stone depicting Aphrodite. The findings in this room date back to the Copper Age and up until the Roman times.
In the second hall, there are items originating from wealthy towns of the area. The findings here date back to the second millennium BC. In the same room, you can also come across findings from the byzantine and medieval era.
Bicycles are available for hire and also guided cycling tours can be arranged.
The area has numerous hiking trails through the hills providing spectacular views. there are also marine fossils to be found many hundreds of feet above the sea level.
There are many lively tavernas and bars in the village, with both local and international dishes. Over the summer months the tavernas in the village square hold traditional entertainment nights, attended by tourists and locals alike. Enjoy traditional food, music and hospitality in abundance.
Golf is also available within a short drive from Kouklia.