World Heritage Sites of Cyprus.

In 1972 UNESCO adopted the Convention regarding to the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in response to the increased threats to archaeological monuments and nature sites caused by the rapid and uncontrolled pace of economic development.

The Convention promotes the registration, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage sites considered to be of exceptional value for all mankind.

Since 1992 this Convention is managed by the World Heritage Centre with its head office in Paris and constitutes the point of reference and the coordinator within UNESCO on all subjects related to world heritage.

The Republic of Cyprus ratified the Convention in 1975 and is committed, together with other states, to protecting World Cultural Heritage sites. As a result of the important civilisation that had developed in Cyprus between two key cultural regions,
the Aegean and the Near East, it was one of the first countries whose monuments achieved this distinction in 1980. This civilization is reflected through important archaeological sites and Byzantine churches and constitutes a leading event for the cultural promotion of the island.

The first listing in UNESCO in 1980

included the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Kouklia (Palaipafos) and Nea Pafos (present Kato Pafos) for two basic reasons:

  • The part the region of Pafos played in the worship of the goddess, Aphrodite, and
  • The part Cyprus, and Pafos especially, played in the spread of Christianity, and with the events associated with the passage of Apostle Pavlos through the region.

The key, however, for the listing of Nea Pafos was the mosaics from the Roman period, not only in the House of Dionysos but also in the Villa of Theseus and the Basilica of Chrysopolitissa. Also included are the “Tombs of the Kings” from the Hellenistic period.

The second listing in 1985

included the Byzantine and post Byzantine churches
upon the Troodos mountain range.

The reasons upon which the Committee based its decision to include the ten churches in the list are:

  • They constitute a testimony to the Byzantine culture on the island.
  • They are important monuments of rural ecclesiastical architecture preserved in very good condition, and
  • The art of these churches have elements which show the relation between
    Eastern and Western Christian art.

The third listing in 1998

included the archaeological site of the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia. Choirokoitia was included in the list for three basic reasons:

  • It is the most important archaeological site of the Neolithic period that reflects the expansion,
  • the permanent habitation of settlements, and
  • the role of Cyprus in the spreading of the Neolithic civilisation from the eastern Mediterranean to the West (7th millennium - 4th millennium B.C.).


We would like to thank the A.G. Leventis Foundation, the Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Cyprus to UNESCO, Mrs Edmée Leventis and the Deputy Permanent Delegate of Cyprus to UNESCO, Mrs Photini Panayi,

the Director of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, Mr Pavlos Flourentzos, and the Curator of Antiquities, Mrs Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou.


The passages are from:
World Heritage Sites in Cyprus as Listed by UNESCO, Nicosia 2008, the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO.
World Heritage Sites in Cyprus, Nicosia 1999, Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO & the A.G. Leventis Foundation (ed.)

Andreas Stylianou & Judith A. Stylianou, The Painted Churches of Cyprus: Treasures of Byzantine Art, London 2nd ed. 1997 (1st ed: 1985), Trigraph (ed. for the A.G. Leventis Foundation)

Alexandros Krasokeras

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