Spring Break: Exploring Around Paphos

Skarfos Bridge

Between the villages of Evretou and Sarama, we discovered a stone bridge dating from 1618. Built by the Venetians, it crossed over ‘Stavros tis Psokas’ river (a tributary of the Chrysochou River that flows through the Paphos Forest), though the path of the water has since moved.

A view of the Skarfos Bridge from above.
A view of Skarfos Bridge from the side.


Skarfos Watermill

Located across from the bridge (you have to drive across the valley to reach it), is the Skarfos Watermill. It is a good idea to have four-wheel drive as some of the way can get quite muddy, especially in spring.

The top of the Skarfos Watermill where the water was carried.
A view from the other side looking back towards the car.
A view looking out into the valley with the watermill’s wall in front.
A view into the other side of the valley from the Skarfos Watermill.

Agios Neophytos Monastery

Located 15km west of Paphos, this monastery was founded by the monk Neophytos in the 12th century. According to legend, Neophytos had become a hermit in a cave here, wishing to study the word of God alone. Unfortunately, this idea attracted followers and he was soon mobbed by visitors. He fled deeper into the caves before eventually building a second level, pulling the ladder up behind him, and only talking to his followers through holes in the floor. By the time he died in 1214, the Engleistra encompassed his hermitage cell, a small chapel, and his tomb. As an additional point of interest, Byzantine paintings cover the Engleistra’s walls. The majority of the paintings completed in the original Engleistra portion of the monastery during Neophytos’ life were done by Theodore Apsuedes in 1183, as mentioned in the saint’s writings and a surviving inscription in his cell. The further reaches of the monastery that were also painted in the twelfth century were completed later, most likely sometime after 1197.

A view of the monastery from the Engleistra.
A view of the Engleistra.

We were allowed to walk through the rest of the monastery complex, including a small museum encompassing Byzantine icons and ecclesiastical objects.

The small bridge from the Engleistra to the main monastery complex.
A mosaic depicting a double-headed eagle, which was the official state symbol of the late Byzantine Empire.
A wooden door in the monastery courtyard.
The inner courtyard of the monastery.
A view of the main church from the courtyard.


Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock)

On the other side of Paphos, on the way to Limassol, is a sea stack that is, according to one legend, the birthplace of Aphrodite.

The entrance to the tunnel leading to the rocks.

According to the myth of Aphrodite, the goddess was born out of sea-foam when Uranus was cut by a sickle and fell into the sea (he had been attacked by his son Cronus). At the spot where Uranus had plunged into the sea, water began foaming and bubbling. Suddenly, the most beautiful maiden appeared on the surface. While the waves at first gently carried her toward Cythera, Zephyrus, the Western Wind, ultimately guided her to the shores of Paphos.

A small stack of rocks built from the rocky beach below.
A view of the sea from a look-out on the side of the road.

Aphrodite attracted a large cult following in Paphos, which was eventually crushed by the Romans. A local myth states that any person who swims around the Aphrodite Rock will be blessed with eternal beauty.

The Rock of Aphrodite from a hill above.

The Greek name, however, associates the place with the exploits of the hero Basil. Basil was half-Greek (Romios) and half-Arabic hence the name Digenes (two-blood). Legend tells that the Christian Basil hurled a huge rock from the Troodos Mountains to keep off the invading Saracens.

Rock art on the sandy beach.
A view of Aphrodite’s Rock from the other side.

One thought on “Spring Break: Exploring Around Paphos

  1. Once again, Xandie, you’ve done a beautiful job of capturing these places with your camera lens (and your perceptive eye). The Skarfos Bridge appears to be crossing a river of wildflowers on the day you were there. And the way the stones are positioned on bridge at the monastery reminds me of a reflexology path. The double-headed eagle mosaic has weathered well through the years it’s been in place. I loved reading the mythological history of Aphrodite’s Rock as I browsed through your photos of that location. Thanks for the virtual tour!

    Liked by 1 person

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