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Jamas! That's Greek for "cheers" and is pronounced "yamas". Last week, we left off from the Elysium Beach Resort in Cyprus. This week, we continue our trip through Europe's southernmost country, visiting historical sites, dining on mezes (small dishes, like tapas) and staying at a wide assortment of hotels. If you're in a hurry, there's a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week's story.
A quick recap from last week: Although Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, it hasn't switched to the Euro yet (it's expected to do this on January 1, 2008). At the date of publish, $100 USD equals 42 Cyprus Pounds (CY£) and 100 Cyprus Pounds equals $233 USD. Use xe.com
to determine current currency rates.
TOMBS OF THE KINGS
I didn't want to check out of the Elysium because it was so plush, but I knew that the next place on my weeklong press tour was going to be just as nice, if not nicer. The Elysium is located just minutes away from the ancient city of Pafos (also spelled Paphos). Pafos is located on the west coast of Cyprus and was the capital of Cyprus for 600 years. Pafos is so full of history that the entire city has been declared a UNESCO heritage
site. For starters, right next to the Elysium are the Tombs of the Kings. You can walk there from the resort. The tombs
are carved out of rock and the entrances resemble temple facades. They were used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods and are set underground. Despite the name, there aren't actually any kings buried in these tombs but rather rich citizens and high-ranking government officials. Walking around these burial chambers, with their Doric columns
and small courtyards, made me feel as though I were on the set of an Indiana Jones movie. Highly recommended! The entrance
fee is CY£1 ($2.32 USD). For more information, see Wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombs_of_the_Kings_(Paphos).
MARKET IN TOWN
Five minutes from the Tombs of the Kings in the upper part of Pafos (the city is divided into two parts) is a daily market
open from 6:30am to 2:30pm (it's closed on Sundays). Here, you'll find fresh, in-season fruits
and vegetables. Half a block away is the beginning of town
where you'll find plenty of restaurants
to dine in and shops
to pick up souvenirs. On my swing through, I stopped by the post office to buy stamps for my postcards. FYI: To send a postcard
to the U.S. cost 26c ($0.60 USD).
ROMAN RUINS (BASILICA OF CHRYSOPOLITISSA)
In 45 AD, St. Paul, who traveled here from Antioch, came to preach Christianity. For this, the Roman governor punished him with 39 lashes and a pillar, appropriately
called St. Paul's Pillar, marks that very spot. The area
was excavated by the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and is now a monument. Also found here is the body of Eric Ejegod, the King of Denmark from 1095 to 1103, who stopped in Cyprus on his way to the Holy Land and died suddenly. Many churches have been built on this property but after numerous wars and a major earthquake, they kept being replaced. The first was a Christian Basilica erected in the 4th century and the last was built in the 16th century. It's still standing
and today is called the Cruciform Church
of Agia Kyriaki
and is a Catholic and Greek Orthodox place of worship. FYI: Cyprus is 78% Greek Orthodox .
KATO PAFOS ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK
One of Pafos' major attractions is the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park. The highlight here
is the House of Dionysos, an old Roman villa that dates back to the 3rd century. The incredible mosaic floors, which mostly depict scenes
from Greek mythology, are in such good condition that they're considered the finest in the world. What's amazing is that these mosaics
weren't actually discovered until 1960 when a farmer accidentally uncovered them while cultivating a field. The park
has other worthwhile
sites as well, including a reconstructed 2nd century Odeon where concerts were once held. My most memorable moment was skipping out on our private, guided tour and wandering
through a field of thousands of bright yellow flowers
until I wound up at a locked lighthouse
where the view, even from the base of the coastline, was divine.
PORT OF PAFOS
Just a short walk from the park is the bustling port of Pafos. The outdoor cafés, souvenir shops and the Medieval Fort of Pafos
(originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbor) are filled with tourists. The fort is bare inside
but the entrance fee
of CY£1 ($2.32 USD) is worth it for the view
from the top.
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Entrance To The Tombs Of The Kings
Tombs Of The Kings
St. Paul's Pillar
Medieval Fort of Pafos