Kouklia is a small town in the Paphos District, about 9.9 mi ( 16 kilometers) from the city of Paphos on the Cyprus Mediterranean island. It is built in the region of Palaepaphos, the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love. Why am I writing about a small town? Because it has perhaps the richest history in All of Europe. So, let’s explore the History of Kouklia in detail.
From throughout 1200 BCE, Palaepaphos was a significant religious center famous all over Cyprus, but also everywhere in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, it also became a center and seat of power about which little is known today due to limited archaeological findings.
Paphos was also a state, and the city was the capital of the region.
When the last known King of Palaepaphos, Nicocles, shifted his capital at the end of the 4th century B.C.E. to the newly-established Nea Paphos, some 16 kilometers to the west, the old city held some of its value thanks to the preservation of the temple of Aphrodite. During the Roman era, it became the center of the newly ascertained ‘Koinon Kyprion’ (the ‘Confederation of the Cypriots’ in Roman Language), which dealt with religious affairs, the devotion of the Roman emperor, and managed the island’s rich bronze coinage.
The temples, ancient religions, and adoration of the goddess lost their attraction with the rise of Christianity. Thus, Kouklia lost its charm, and the nearby regions slowly turned into a history page.
Byzantine and later eras
Under the mighty Byzantine Empire (306 CE–1453 CE), the town was most perhaps the property of the Byzantine officer called the Kouvikoularios. In Greek, the word kouvouklion signifies sepulchral chamber but can also mean the residence of the Byzantine emperors. Bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors who watched the imperial residence were termed kouvikoularioi and were often awarded land as a reward for their services. One such kouvikoularios is likely to have become the owner or master of the village. Thus it was named Kou(vou)klia. Alternatively, if Kouklia was not the home of a kouvikoularios, then it was perhaps an area dotted with farmhouses for Byzantine officials.
The village retained the name “Kouvouklia” until the arrival of Frankish power in the 12th century and was shortened to “Kouklia.” De Masse Latri reports that the town was a large royal estate where sugar cane was farmed during the Frank domination era.
During the Ottoman era, Kouklia was seized by the new rulers and became an estate. In 1881 CE, Kouklia’s recorded population was just over 500 and rose to over 500 in 1921 CE. By 194 CE6, that number had grown to just under 800 (400+ Greek Cypriots and 300+ Turkish Cypriots) and by 1973 CE to 1,110.