The Village of Kouklia.
'If you find a good wife you'll be happy; if not, you'll become a philosopher' Socrates.
If describing the village of Kouklia in ancient times then the words Red Light District would spring to mind with the cult of Aphrodite having made its headquarters here in 1500BC. Set 14km(9miles) from Pafos town this was the centre of worship to the fertility goddess Aphrodite, with all the action taking place on a knoll about 2km inland overlooking the sea.
Here the Temple of Aphrodite was built and Kouklia or Palea Pafos as it was first known started to flourish, a place where ritual prostitution was enthusiastically embraced as an integral part of the Aphrodite cult. Every young maiden had to make a compulsory visit to the sanctuary, there to make love with a stranger, the man would chose his maiden by throwing money at her feet saying 'I invoke the Goddess upon you' and off they went to fulfil their duty.
Its interesting to note that even after the sanctuary was long gone, some of these ancient pagan pilgrimages and pleasures were still lingering on into the mid 14th century and the reputed reputation of the Cypriot lover was amply fuelled somewhat by the words of the Ludolf of Suchen a German priest who described such local cultural activities whereby: 'All maidens before their betrothal yielded themselves to men, for in Cyprus above all other lands these men are by nature most luxurious. For the soil of Cyprus, if a man sleeps on it thereafter it will provoke a man to lust'.
Today Kouklia can hardly be described as a hot bed of lust and fornication, the lust now displayed in this quiet village is for knowledge and the satisfaction tourists receive in being able to walk along the remaining foundations of the sanctuary. Close by is another must see sight The Leda Mosaic House where the replica of a mosaic depicting Leda as she bares her bottom to the lustful Zeus who has taken the form of a Swan and is tweaking at her garment with his beak. According to legend the swan and the maiden made love, after which she laid two eggs from which emerged to pairs of children Castor and Pollux and Helen and Clytemnestra- ( no mention has ever been made as to whether local residents of the time were into opiates as this might just explain these flights of fantasy) A short walk from the sanctuary is the La Cavocle a Lusignan manor which used to be the HQ of the Crusaders and here there are some fascinating exhibits including a huge chalk bathtub complete with soap dish dating from the 11th century BC. After a short walk around the perimeter of the site and a quick visit to the small village church, you can then look forward to satisfying yet another lust – for 'good food and wine' by making straight for Laledes restaurant which is an eight minute walk into the village from the sanctuary and is well signposted.