The sun drenched island of Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean sea, after Sicily (1st) and Sardinia (2nd). Cyprus is the 3rd largest island and Corsica is the 4th largest island in the Med followed by Crete, the 5th largest. Cyprus is a decent sized island anyway about 240 km (149 miles) long and 100 km (62 miles) wide.
Interestingly, the highest mountain in Cyprus is called Mount Olympus, like several other mountains with the same magnificant name located throughout the world. For instance, there is a Mount Olympus in Australia and America.
Mount Olympus has the honour of being the highest mountain in Cyprus. This mountain is 1,952 m (6,404 ft) high. The genuine Mount Olympus in northern Greece has a height of 2,918 m (9,573 ft), which is nearly 1,000 metres higher. This is the highest mountain in Greece.
The Birth of Aphrodite
Have you ever wondered how come Cyprus was given the honour of being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty? Wait a minute, that’s not totally correct since Kythera also lays claim to being Aphrodite’s birthplace. How can two islands claim to be the birthplace of Aphrodite you’re probably wondering? That’s impossible, but wait a minute, there’s a pretty good explanation.
It all began when Cronus cut off the immortal genitals from his father Uranus, the husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. After doing so Cronus flung them out into the sea. Who would have guessed that the Goddess of love, sex and beauty would go on to be born from this horrific event?
Here’s an extract of text from Hesiod’s Theogony, as shown in The Complete World of Greek Mythology by Richard Buxton:
About [the genitals] a white foam grew from the immortal flesh, and in it a girl formed. First she approached holy Kythera; then from there she came to sea-girt Cyprus. And out stepped a modest and beautiful goddess, and the grass began to grow all round beneath her slender feet. Gods and men call her Aphrodite, because she was formed in foam [aphros], and Kythereia, because she approached Kythera, and Cyprus-born, because she was born in wave-washed Cyprus, and laughter-loving [philommeides], because she appeared out of genitals [medea]. Eros and fair Desire attended her birth and accompanied her as she went to join the family of gods. And this has been her allotted province from the beginning among men and immortal gods: the whisperings of girls; smiles; deceptions; sweet pleasure, intimacy, and tenderness. [from Hesiod’s Theogony]
There you have it. Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, has genuine links with both Cyprus and Kythira. This post will focus on the island of Cyprus. I’ll leave Kythera for another time.
The Modern Tragedy
Fighting and disputes between Greeks, Turks, and whoever else wanted to control part or all of Aphrodite’s favoured island seems to have gone on forever. I wonder if Aphrodite was the main cause of all the problems.
Aphrodite has made a few errors of judgement in her time. One of them being when she married the wrong God. Even though she was the wife of the lame blacksmith-God, Hephaestus, it didn’t stop her from having extra-marital affairs. She desired Ares, the God of War, another very questionable poor choice of judgement.
Hephaestus was smart enough to have his suspicions in regard to the faithfulness of his wife, so one day he decided to catch both Ares and Aphrodite in the act. He cleverly devised a trap which would scoop them both up in a huge escape-proof metal bonded fishing net, if Aphrodite was ever in bed with someone else. It did the trick. When Hephaestus found out he angrily decided to humiliate both of them by summoning the other Gods to see his shame. Imagine the sight.
What has played out on Cyprus since Aphrodite’s arrival seems to be like the exact opposite play. People desiring their own foolish non-Greek Goddess religion to dominate the island of Aphrodite, so that hatred between other people with their own foolish non-Greek Goddess religion can do the same. I wonder how Aphrodite feels about it all?
Actually, it hasn’t turned out that bad, as you’ll soon see. Aphrodite, you’ve done good! Loads of tourists love the island.
Here are a few places to visit where you can pay your respects to Aphrodite.
Best places to visit in Cyprus for Lovers of Aphrodite
Below is a drone view of the very popular Nissi beach in the resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus. Looks pretty good to me. I’m sure a Goddess or two has wanted to go for a swim at this great looking beach.
2. Aphrodite’s beach / Aphrodite’s rock
Legend has it that this is the beach/rock that gave birth to Aphrodite where she rose out of the water.
3. Aphrodite Trail / Adonis Trail
4. Baths of Aphrodite
5. Adonis Baths
The Aphrodite statue is 10 metres tall and the Zeus statue is 4 metres tall.
Several other surprising statues can also be seen at the Adonis bath and waterfall.
This looks very tempting.
6. Sanctuary / Temple of Aphrodite
This is the first UNESCO World Heritage in Cyprus site because of its historical significance. It is located in Kouklia Village, 14 km south-east of Paphos. The temple stood about 2km inland and remained intact as a sanctuary until the 3rd or 4th century.
Aphrodite’s temple goes way back to the 12th century Alpha (BC). The site could be as old as 3800 Alpha (BC). You can see the windmills in the background. The Goddess of Love has a few fans even today.
7. Aphrodite Waterpark, Pathos, Cyprus
8. Aphrodite Hills, Cyprus
9. Cyprus Museum (Nicosia)
Aphrodite can be seen at the museum.
10. Pathos Archaeological Park
Paphos – This tourist friendly town is considered a beachside jewel. Pathos Archaeological Park is the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The House of Aion, discovered in 1962, has numerous mosaics including one depicting the end of the flute contest between Apollo and Marsyas.
The main villas in the archaeological site are named after the God, Goddess or hero the main mosaic inside each villa, such as: House of Theseus, House of Aion, House of Dionysos, and the House of Orpheus.
Serendipitously, I watched the whole four-part Brazilian series “Siren’s Song” for the first time on television at the same time as putting together this piece about Aphrodite. I think the mini-series leaves an important clue in regard to Aphrodite’s immortal existence.
Message from Siren’s Song:
… a heart and a star …
… it came up in the shells …
… she became a myth …
Aphrodite, Goddess of love and beauty, you’re obviously in beach heaven somewhere.
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