UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cyprus

Paphos Castle

Paphos (Pafos) Castle was originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour. It was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled by the Venetians in 1570 during the Ottoman invasion and rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island in the 16th century. Originally, this role was served by the Saranta Kolones fort, the ruins of which lie a few hundred meters to the north. During its long history ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

The Tombs of the Kings is an impressive necropolis that is located just outside the walls, to the north and east of Paphos town. It was built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.) to satisfy the needs of the newly founded Nea Paphos. Its name is not connected with the burial of kings, as the royal institution was abolished in 312 B.C., but rather with the impressive character of its burial monuments. The site w ...
Founded: 300 BC | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

House of Dionysos

The House of Dionysos is a rich Greco-Roman type building where the rooms were arranged around a central court, which functioned as the core of the house. It seems that the house was built at the end of the 2nd century AD. and was destroyed and abandoned after the earthquakes of the 4th century AD. The House of Dionysus occupies 2000 square metres of which 556 are covered with mosaic floors decorated with mythological, vi ...
Founded: c. 190 AD | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

House of Theseus

House of Theseus is a Roman villa built in the second half of the 2nd century AD over the ruins of earlier houses of the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. It was in use until the 7th century AD. The villa"s large size, it consisted of more than 100 rooms, suggests that the building was the residence of the governor of Cyprus. Many of the rooms and three of the four porticos around the central court are covered wi ...
Founded: c. 170 AD | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Petra tou Romiou

Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite"s Rock, is a sea stack in Paphos. The combination of the beauty of the area and its status in mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite makes it a popular tourist location. According to one legend, this rock is the site of the birth of the goddess Aphrodite, perhaps owing to the foaming waters around the rock fragments. Another legend associates the name Achni with the nearby ...
Founded: | Location: Kouklia, Cyprus

Odeon Amphitheatre

The Odeon, which is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cyprus was built in the 2th century AD and shaped entirely from perfectly hewn limestone rocks. To the south of the Odeon are the remains of the Roman temple of Asclepius, God of Medicine and to the north are remains of ancient town walls. Next to the Odeon and near to the New Paphos Lighthouse is a rocky mound which is said to have been the Acropolis o ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Temple of Aphrodite

The Temple of Aphrodite was officially established by its cult with the construction of a hilltop temple on the important pilgrimage site of Palea Paphos. Although, it is said that the temple was erected in 1500-1300 BC, the idols and coins related to Aphrodite found here date back to 3800 BC. It stood on a knoll about 2 kilometres inland overlooking the sea. Soon, the town of Palea Paphos started forming around the templ ...
Founded: 1500 BC | Location: Kouklia, Cyprus

Khirokitia

In the prehistoric period, Cyprus played a key role in the transmission of culture from the Near East to the European world. Khirokitia or Choirokhoitia is an exceptionally well-preserved archaeological site that has provided, and will continue to provide, scientific data of great importance relating to the spread of civilization from Asia to the Mediterranean world. Both the excavated remains and the untouched part of Ch ...
Founded: 7000 BC | Location: Choirokoitia, Cyprus

Church of Archangelos Michail

The church of Archangel Michael is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, in the valley of Marathasa, in the village of Pedoulas. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. According to the dedicatory inscription above the north entrance, the church was built and decorated with frescoes in 1474, with the donation ...
Founded: 1474 | Location: Pedoulas, Cyprus

Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery

Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery was founded in the 12th century, but the existing building dates back to the 1770. The monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary or the Cypriot "Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate". Inside the monastery there is a variety of religious icons and treasures on display. One statue that attracts the most attention is of Virgin Mary, which is made of pure silver. On 15th August, a celebration is ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pano Panagia, Cyprus

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis

The monastery of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis (St. John Lampadistis) is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. The exact founding date of the monastery is unknown. The katholicon (monastery church), which is dedicated to Saint Herakleidios, is dated to the 11th century. Among the wall-paintings of the narthex there is an inscription, dated to th ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus

Panagia Church

The church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia Forbiotissa used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/1106, the church was built ...
Founded: 1099 | Location: Nikitari, Cyprus

Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis

The church of Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis is the only surviving katholicon (monastery church) of an 11th century Byzantine monastery in Cyprus. The church itself is dated to the 11th century, whilst the earliest written sources that mention the monastery are dated to the end of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Agios Nicolaos, Cyprus

Church of Panagia tou Arakos

The church of Panagia tou Arakos is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia tou Arakos used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of a monastery bearing the same name, which seems to have been built during the second half of the 12th century, when monastic life was flourishing in Cyprus. When Vassili Barsky, a Russian monk, visited t ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lagoudera, Cyprus

Church of Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati

The church of Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. This church used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of a monastery bearing the same name, built towards the end of the 15th century. When Vassili Barsky, a Russian monk, visited the island in 1735, the monastery was almost abandoned and inhabited by only ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Platanistasa, Cyprus

Church of Panagia tou Moutoulla

The church of Panagia is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. According to the dedicatory inscription on the north wall of the Holy Bema, the church was built and decorated with frescoes in 1280, with the donation of Ioannis of Moutoullas and his wife Irene. Both of them are depicted holding a model of the church. It is therefore possible, ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Moutoullas, Cyprus

Church of Metamorfosis tou Sotiros

The church of the Metamorfosis tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of the Saviour) is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List , which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. It was erected at the beginning of the 16th century and it belongs to the single-aisled, timber-roof typechurches of the Troodos region. The narthex, which was added by the beginning of the 17th century, extends to the west ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Palaichori, Cyprus

Church of Timios Stavros

The church of Timios Stavros is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which included nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. The present form of the church is the result of several additions and alterations, carried out throughout various periods. Originally, it was a single-aisled domed structure, built around the middle of the 12th century and it is possible that it was the church of a cemetery ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Pelentri, Cyprus

Church of Panagia Podithou

The church of Panagia Podithou is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, in the upper Solea valley. It is built in a narrow and fertile valley of the river Klarios/Karkotis, a few hundred meters to the north of the village of Galata. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia Podithou used to be the katho ...
Founded: 1502 | Location: Galata, Cyprus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.