A Guide to Cyprus' UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The beautiful island of Cyprus is known for its winning beaches and sublime cuisine, yet it’s also very rich in history and culture. The island occupies a unique position on the globe that makes it very much a cultural crossroad, which is partly why many spots in Cyprus are recognised by UNESCO as sites of world heritage.

Take a look at what to expect during your visit.

Paphos Town

Owing to its history, art and antiquity, the whole of Paphos is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, for several compelling reasons.

Folklore states it’s the birthplace of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of fertility and love, while archaeological evidence tells us that the city has been playing a central role in Cypriot life since the Neolithic era.

There are ruins, monuments and mosaics across Paphos, including the mythic artistry of the mosaics of Nea Paphos, as well as the legendary Tombs of the Kings. Further afield, UNESCO’s appreciation is also extended to numerous sites of historic value, including the mystical Temple of Aphrodite and the Villa of Theseus.

There’s also an entire park dedicated to archaeology and unlocking the secrets of the past that is open to the public. So prepare to lose yourself for hours in the stirring stories of old.

Painted Churches of the Troodos Mountains

In the central heartlands of Cyprus loom the Troodos Mountains, which have played a crucial role in the social and societal development of Cyprus. The area is rich in natural beauty, and you’re going to find numerous opportunities to follow trails and tours through the wilderness.

UNESCO’s attention has been captivated by the famous Painted Churches of the region, and it’s likely you’ll be similarly enthralled.

These religious monuments are richly decorated in murals and artistry depicting saints and folklore, all rendered in sublime colours. They’re a far departure from the usual reserved style of religious sites.

The churches were first built by the long gone Byzantine Empire, and these nine churches and monasteries have rested unspoilt in the centre of Cyprus for more than 500 years.

Outside, each chapel, church and monastery seems a rustic and unassuming building, yet the colours within tell tales of a bygone era. Even Cypriots are consistently swept away by the beauty of the artwork.

Choirokoitia

Easily recognisable thanks to the white circular huts clustered together in the wide spacious streets, Choirokoitia is a reproduction Neolithic settlement regarded as tremendously important to archaeological study.

Only a portion of the entire area has been fully analysed, which means that plenty of further mystery lies in wait beneath the parched soil.

Because the settlement stretches back as far as the 7th Millennium BCE, it’s a pivotal place of understanding in human evolution.

It’s also thought that those who built the very first permanent residences here on Cyprus brought plants and animals with them to the island that otherwise would never be found here naturally.

Together with the reconstructed buildings you’ll find here are numerous circular remains of housing foundations, telling the forgotten tale of a village here that was once home to as many as 600 people.

Naturally, the status of Choirokoitia as the best preserved prehistoric settlement in the East Mediterranean means that UNESCO has highlighted its cultural significance, so do make sure you get a look at it for yourself while you’re here.

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