Petra tou Romiou, a rock off the shore along the main road from Paphos to Limassol, has been regarded since ancient times as the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddes of love and fertility.
According to ancient tradition, Aphrodite was born from the waves on the site off the coast of Cyprus. In his Theogony (178-206), Hesiod provides the following dramatic account of the event:
Aphrodite was then escorted ashore on a shell by the soft breezes of the Zephyrs at the rocks known as Petra tou Romiou.
This myth is, of course, most memorably depicted in Botticelli's Birth of Venus (on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence). A much older rendering of the event can be seen in a fine mural at Pompeii.
Homer's account of Aphrodite's birth is less dramatic. He said she was the daughter of Zeus and the fresh water nymph Dione, at whose bosom she would sometimes seek solace (Iliad 5.370-417).
Petra tou Romiou means "the Rock of the Greek" and does not refer to Aphrodite but to another myth, that of the Byzantine hero Dighenis who threw the rocks at pirates to protect his lady.
It is said that in certain weather conditions, the waves rise, break and form a column of water that dissolves into a pillar of foam. With imagination, this looks for just a moment like an ephemeral, evanescent human shape.
There is a long narrow pebbly beach at Petra tou Romiou that extends to either side of the largest rock and its satellites.
You can park on the old B6 on the uphill side of the road. Pedestrian access to the beach is via an underpass.
Quick Facts on Aphrodite's Rock
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|Coordinates:||34.663923° N, 32.627163° E|
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- Bernard McDonagh and Ian Robertson, Blue Guide Cyprus, 4th ed. (1998), 103-04, 107-08.
- Marc Dubin, The Rough Guide to Cyprus, 5th ed. (2005), 157-58.
- Aphrodite: Her Power and Her Art - Anne Lombardi, Sweet Briar College
- Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image (1993).
- Edward E. Barthell Jr., Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece (1971).
- Walter Burkert, Greek Religion (1985).
- Richard S. Caldwell, ed., Hesiod's Theogony (1987).
- Fritz Graf, Greek Mythology: An Introduction (1993).
- Aphrodite's Rock, Cyprus - Go Historic
- Photos of Aphrodite's Rock - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Aphrodite's Rock, Cyprus
Below is a location map and aerial view of Aphrodite's Rock. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.