Pafos is one of the most important centers of ancient civilization in the Mediterranean. As the island’s capital for six centuries, the whole town of Pafos is included in the official UNESCO World Heritage list. The history of Pafos, this remarkable destination, can be relived through the museums located in central places of Pafos. Each museum offers a number of exhibits from different time periods, which are traveling the visitors to previous eras.
Geroskipou – Folkloric Museum
The Folk Art Museum (The Local Ethnographic Museum of Geroskipou) is located in Geroskipou Village, which took its name from the Greek phrase “Ieros Kipos” (Sacred Garden). The museum is housed in a traditional 18th-century building which belonged to Andreas Zimboulakis, an appointed British Consular Agent of Western Cyprus. The place is also known as the “House of Hadjismith” since the consular had close relations with the British Admiral Sir Sidney Smith and a member of his family had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (“hadji” means a pilgrim).
The “House of Hadjismith” used to be part of a larger complex of buildings and it has been restored by the Department of Antiquities. It has been an ethnographic Museum since 1978 and it contains a large and diverse collection of exhibits originating from all over Cyprus and representing the daily life, the various crafts and activities and the different expressions of Cypriot folk art during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Polis Archaeological Museum Marion – Arsinoe
The Archaeological Museum Marion – Arsinoe is located in Polis Chrysochou, and it hosts a collection of antiquities discovered in the region where the ancient city-kingdom of Marion-Arsinoe once stood. Marion – named after its founder King Marieas – was an important commercial centre in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, with close ties with Athens. During the Hellenistic-Roman period, Marion was renamed into Arsinoe in the 3rd century BC, which now constitutes the small town of Polis Chrysochous, commonly known as “Polis”.
The Museum opened its doors to the public in 1998 and today has three main exhibition spaces. The exhibits in Room I, derive from an extensive area around Polis and are chronologically arranged so as to portray its historical development from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras to the Medieval period. In Room II the exhibits come from the rich necropolis of the area with special reference to the location and excavation of the cemeteries. The third space is an atrium where architectural members are displayed.
The museum of Palaipafos (Old Pafos) is located in the eastern wing of the Lusignian Medieval Manor House in the archaeological site of Kouklia village. It was one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centres of the ancient Greek world, and once a city-kingdom of Cyprus. Here stood the famous sanctuary of Aphrodite, the most ancient remains of which date back to the 12th century BC.
The Museum has two rooms with exhibits from the archaeological sites of ancient Palaipafos and from the cemeteries of this area. The first room has a roman mosaic covering its floor, and it also hosts important findings from the sanctuary of Aphrodite. In this room, some other important findings dating from the 13th century B.C. to the Roman period can be found. The second room, showcase exhibits coming from the cemeteries of the area which date from the 2nd millennium B.C. until Roman times.
Maa – Palaiokastro
The archaeological site of Palaiokastro is located at Coral Bay, a small peninsula north of the town of Pafos. This is where the first Mycenaean (ancient Greeks) have immigrated after the fall of the Mycenaean Kingdoms in mainland Greece around 1200 BC. Palaiokastro, which means “old castle”, it is believed to be the place where the Hellenism on the island has started. The castle was a military construction with two separate Cyclopean-style walls; the first wall protected the settlement from the land, and the second offered protection from the sea. Inside the settlement many small houses have been excavated as well as a few impressive public buildings bearing architectural features which are connected to the Aegean.
Today at the site is hosted a small museum with a unique architecture (pictured) designed by the Italian architect-conservator and professor Andrea Bruno. The main concept of the design was to keep the surrounding natural environment as intact as possible thus the building is an underground structure with only its bronze dome visible from the outside. A round subterranean exhibition room is under the dome.
Fiti Village Weaving Museum and Inia Village Basket Weaving Museum
The history of Pafos extends with traditional Cypriot artifacts, manufactured from Cypriot villagers during past decades. In the Weaving Museum of Fiti Village, a variety of textiles can be found, known as “Fythkiotika”. These particular textiles are known for their special style of weaving since medieval times and they stand out for their variety of designs and rich colours. Except for the exhibited textiles visitors can also see how they are made. The Basket Weaving Museum located in Inia Village and it hosts a collection of traditionally made basketry that also includes trays, wall decorations, containers and fish traps.