The ground once covered by the sacred temple of Aphrodite and its precinct stretches from the southernmost houses of the village to the Royal Manor House. The blend of age-old Aegean and Oriental rites exhibited in the cult ceremonies lent the Paphian Sanctuary a particular attraction. Buildings and rites are therefore mentioned frequently by classical authors. The goddess was not represented by an anthropomorphic (human) cult statue: as in other Mediterranean and Oriental fertility religions, her symbol was a large conical idol of local gabbro stone, found on the site and now in the Kouklia Museum. The holy stone was anointed with oil at great festivals; the main altar, where only offerings of “incense and pure fire” were allowed, “stood in the open air but was never wet by rain” (Tacitus, Hist. II 3). Religious prostitution was said to form part of the temple rites.
The excavation of the Sanctuary buildings (1973—79, 1993—95, 1997) showed that they had suffered severely over the centuries. Derelict since the later fourth century as one of the major heathen shrines, in the Middle Ages the ruins served as a quarry for the sugar refinery erected on the site and probably also for the Royal Manor House. Yet, despite all these later dilapidations, the excavation definitely established the continuity of cult on the site for more than 1,600 years, from the Late Bronze Age (c. 1200 BC) to the Late Roman period (end of the fourth century).
Keywords: αρχιτεκτονική architectura architecture architettura architektur paliapaphos kouklia sanctuary of aphrodite temple of sanctuary of aphrodite afrodite venus venere royal manor house aerial view photograph