Tuesday, August 29, 2017

[PAPHOS] Beach, Love, Mosaics

Once upon a time Titan Cronus and his father Uranus had a big fight, and the son thought it’d be fun to castrate daddy as a form of revenge. Aww, family love. Long story short, something fell from the sky into the sea that day and the beach bums of Paphos be like, “ZOMFG IS THAT WHAT WE THINK IT IS???!!!” But shit was just about to get real when from the severed genitals of the sky god arose a beautiful goddess called Aphrodite. Google “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli for visuals.

So why am I in Paphos? No, I’m not here to search for Uranus’ severed dick. I’m here because in our time and age the airport here is where Ryanair operates their cheap flights to and from the island. Cheap flights! Hooray! I already knew thanks to Wikitravel that Paphos has some ruins, which I thought would be the reason as to why this will be the highlight of my Cyprus trip. I wasn’t wrong! Arriving at the beach, I just looked at it for like five minutes and then I headed straight to the archaeological site.

There is a meager EUR 4.50 (~PHP 270) entrance fee. I don’t know if students get discounts. Only “Pensioners 65+” was listed on the price board. The main attraction here is the collection of mosaics that have been excavated by some university archaeological teams. Most of these works of art have been preserved and date back to the 3rd and 4th BC. We are now in 2017, that means that these mosaics are roughly 1600 years older than us. Wicked. The area is divided into different houses.

No, I know you just saw the Game of Thrones Season Finale. There are no House Stark or House Targaryen here in Paphos. When I said “House” I meant a literal house. Historians have identified several houses as belonging to this or that person. These claims are backed up by Ancient Greek literature. As to who they were, we can assume that they were the wealthy men of their time. How else could they have funded such magnificent works of art?

I suppose the mosaics were part of their homes back then. As new towns and cities rise, the old ones get buried deep in the dust to make way for the new ones. They literally serve as the foundation for the new settlement being established at that time. I wonder how deep the excavators had to dig to unearth these mosaics but there is reason to believe that there are more where those colorful mini tile arts came from. Keep digging, guys! Hahaha. But what I like most about Paphos is its location right next to the sea.

Yeah, of course Limassol and Larnaca are also facing the Mediterranean, but they don't have these mosaics to set them apart from the rest. I’ve been to various ruins across five continents. What immediately came to mind as I hiked Paphos’ hills were Morocco’s Volubilis and Mexico’s Tulum. I cite Volubilis because of the mosaics and the columns, although the comparison ends there. Oualili has no body of water surrounding it after all. And Tulum? Well, basically it’s because of the beach.

That Maya Caribbean getaway is one of my favorites because of the stark contrast that the different shades of blue offer when combined with the rough gray concrete of Tulum’s ruins. It also makes you imagine how chill everything might have been back then. You are living in a small simple community and your neighbor is the sea. Every day must have been damn therapeutic. But yeah, Tulum has no mosaics either, but in terms of the chill coastal vibe, I find the two to be quite similar.

The mosaics feature art from Greek mythology, reenactments of legends that have been immortalized since the dawn of Greek civilization. The area also has a white lighthouse which sticks out like a sore thumb because it looks so modern. The ruins of the small amphitheater called Odeon is right next to that tower. A panoramic view of Paphos’ urban sprawl is visible in the horizon on one side, while the Mediterranean Sea sparkles in various hues of turquoise on the other side. There you go, done with the tour!

I had late lunch/early dinner after that exhausting walk. I was just right across the promenade but I could no longer get myself to take a stroll. Not in that heat. Besides, I feel like I already hit the jackpot with the ruins that I just saw. I mean, I had two days of beaching in Larnaca and Limassol. It’s nice to have been given the opportunity to go on geek mode and have a trip down collective ancient Greek memory lane. And that’s how our Cyprus trip ends. Tomorrow, we fly to Thessaloniki.

[PAPHOS] Beach, Love, Mosaics

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