For the past week, I have seen Cypriot culture in many ways through our different business meetings and cultural visits. However, I have never seen it like I have today.
Our Saturday consisted of a road trip from Nicosia to Paphos with several historical stops along the way. First was the ancient city of Kourion. Kourion is one of the ancient city-states that made up Cyprus. Excavation efforts have and continue to allow us to see glimpses of what life there may have been like. The city is positioned with natural stone walls on a tall cliff above the sea for protection. One room houses a large mosaic floor while another holds baths. Outside was part of the city’s amphitheater, which overlooks the sea beyond the cliff. It was hard to comprehend how ancient the site was because I have never seen anything like it. However, it was easy to understand how important it could be to learning about ancient Cypriot culture and what it may have looked like at that time.
After a short drive, we arrived at our next destination, Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock). The rock is said to be the birthplace of Aphrodite. It was at this place where she emerged from the sea, was dressed, and sent to Mount Olympus. Of course this is just mythology, but the destination is worthy of it. Even in the cloudy weather we saw today, it was beautiful. It was also interesting going to this destination following Kourion. Kourion is very historical while Aphrodite’s Rock is very mythological. They are both influential in Cypriot culture, but for different reasons. Kourion is the setting of events which changed the island, and Aphrodite’s Rock is the setting of a story which would influence its culture for years to come.
We were able to see how mythology and history can combine in our final destinations of the day. At the Tomb of the Kings we saw ancient burial grounds for Cypriot rulers. Then, at the House of Dionysus we saw 2000 year old mosaics, many depicting gods and stories from Greek mythology. Like Kourion, the area was a historical excavation site. However, its many depictions of mythology reminded me of the significance of Aphrodite’s Rock. Once again, I saw how history and mythology combine to make Cypriot culture what it is, not only in ancient times but also today.
Now that I have this new perspective of Cypriot culture and history, it will be interesting to see how it relates to modern business in our meetings next week.