Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa, Paphos

The 12th century stone church of Agia Kyriaki, with a later small belfry and dome, is also known as Panagia Chrysopolitissa (Our Lady of the Golden City). It was built on the ruins of an earlier seven-aisled Christian Byzantine basilica, the largest in Cyprus. A bishop’s palace also stood nearby.

Both buildings were destroyed by the Arabs, but the parts that have survived include 4th-century religious floor mosaics. The road to Agia Kyriaki leads along a special platform built over the archaeological digs, from where you can see several single columns. One of them has been named ‘St Paul’s Pillar.’ The apostle Paul came to Cyprus to preach Christianity, but was captured and led before the Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, who sentenced him to flogging. St Paul, blinded his accuser, Elymas, thus convincing Sergius of his innocence to such an extent, that the governor converted to Christianity.

Agia Kyriaki is used jointly by the Catholic and Anglican communities. The beautiful church standing nearby, built on a rock which forms part of the Kato Pafos defence walls, is called ‘Panagia Theoskepasti,’ which means ‘guarded by God.’ It is apocryphally told that during a scourging Arab attack, a miraculous cloud enveloped the church, concealing it from the enemy.