• Elisa Solea

7 + 1 fun facts you didn't know about Aphrodite's Rock - Petra tou Romiou

We came across a fun but interesting article about Aphrodite's Rock and the only thing we could do was share. One of the most popular tourist locations in Cyprus is Aphrodite's Rock, known also as Petra tou Romiou. The mystery rock is a sea stack in Pafos, located off the shore along the main road from Pafos to Limassol. According to one legend, this rock is the site of the birth of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. Another legend associates the place with the exploits of the hero Basil whose epithet Digenes Akritas. Digenis Akritas, half Greek (Romios) and half Arabic, the ideal Medieval Greek hero, is a bold warrior who hurled the huge rock from Troodos Mountains to keep off the invading Saracens.

But let's leave the legends and see the facts!

1. In the 60's a crook named Kostas Andronikou managed to sell the rock to unsuspected retired American millionaires, presenting them false title deeds as well as a family tree certificate showing that he was an ancestor of Digenis Akritas. He managed to abstract 60,000 pounds, a huge amount for that time. To date, the identity of the man remains a mystery.

2. In the late 40's the American tycoon John Marston tried to tow the rock and take it to a private island. He placed 4 thick cableways and with 4 type Nautilus 6FV commercial ships, he tried to move it. After 3 days of continuous effort the rock only moved 50cm so he abandoned the operation.

3. In 1995 a group of archaeology students from the University of California, under the supervision of Professor of Archaeology and Greek Mythology, James M. Smith, found in the southern part of the Rock embossed inscriptions dating between 4th and 5th century B.C. The inscriptions were cut off and can be found at the Cyprus University museum.

4. Petra tou Romiou is part of the "NATURA 2000" network since 1998 because of the Cypriota Curcutius lizard, commonly known as "Arkokourkoutas" which thrives in the region and particularly on the rock during the summer period. The Cypriota Curcutius differs from the common Cyprus lizard "kourkoutas" from the head which has a characteristic black colour and it is shaped like a round pan, as well as from the tail which ends in two small tips like scissors. It's belly is white and feeds only on algae.

5. In the 80s French archaeologists attempted to blow up the Rock to study the ships and skeletons of the Saracens who were killed by Digenis Akritas. They were stopped at the last minute after the immediate intervention of Cyprus National Guard, ordered by the late president of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Spyros Kyprianou.

6. In 2013 Trip Advisor users, voted Petra tou romiou as the best spot in the Mediterranean to have…sex. The sandy beach of the area and the idyllic landscape are the reason that the beach rank number 1 in voter's choice between the ages of 35-65. The beach was also voted 3rd best beach for nudism in 2007, also by Trip Advisor voters.

7. Shortly before the 1974 invasion, the Cyprus republic, inspired by the famous Mount Rushmore in America announced a competition for stone carving on the rock the head of Archbishop Makarios. The Cypriot architect Andreas Darvas won, but the project remained unfulfilled because of the Turkish invasion.

8. As part of Cyprus millennium celebrations, David Copperfield was to vanish Aphrodite's rock. After months of negotiations with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the idea didn't work out.

Translation from www.xeroteana.com Thank you for the nice piece.

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