Kouklia is located about 16 km from the city of Paphos, on the west end of Cyprus. The village is built in the area of “Palaepaphos” (Old Paphos), mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty. The foundation myth is interwoven with Aphrodite at every level, such that Old Paphos became the centre for her worship in the ancient world.
Excavations have been conducted at times, bringing to surface the famous temple of “Aphrodite of Pafos” (Pafia Aphrodite), the remains of the fortification of Palaipafos, and various other movable findings that are found in the archaeological Museum situated in the village, housed in the medieval villa south of the village.
Kouklia boasts two forests, ‘Randi’ to the south-east as well as part of ‘Oriti’ to its north-east. Elevated about 100m above the sea level and the exceptionally favourable geographic position of the village helped the growth of profitable agricultural and farming operations, which meant remarkable prosperity of the local community.
The village was in existence during the Byzantine years and must have been a property of the Byzantine officer “Kouvikoularios”. The word “kouvouklion” meant sepulchral chamber but also meant the dormitory of the Byzantine emperors. The bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors that guarded the imperial dormitory were named “kouvikoularioi” and often were granted pieces of land as a reward for their services. Such a “kouvikoularios” most probably became the master/owner of the village and so it was named Kou(vou)klia. Therefore, if kouklia was not the property of a “kouvikoularios” then it must have been a place with country houses for Byzantine officials.
The inhabitants of Kouklia numbered 404 in 1881, increasing to 520 in 1921. In 1946 the inhabitants run into 791 (437 Greek-Cypriots and 354 Turkish-Cypriots) and in 1973 to 1110 (613 Greek-Cypriots, 494 Turkish-Cypriots, and 3 of other nationalities). After the Turkish invasion of 1974, the Turkish-Cypriot inhabitants of the village were coerced by their leadership to abandon the village and transfer to the occupied regions, along with all the other Turkish-Cypriots from the non-occupied areas. In 1976 the inhabitants of Kouklia were 732, which decreased to 681 in 1982. In the census of 2001 the inhabitants were 669.
The village was still named “Kouvouklia” until the Frank domination era, instead of the abbreviated Kouklia. De Masse Latri reports that during the Frank domination era the village was a large royal estate in which sugarcane was cultivated. The large medieval villa of Kouklia proves that the village was an important feud.
During the era of Turkish domination, Kouklia were confiscated by the new conqueror and became a manor.
The entire area ‘modern’ village is built on an important archaeological area, the “Palaipafos” (Old Pafos). “Palaipafos” was the centre of the Kingdom of Pafos, which was one of the most important ancient kingdoms of Cyprus.
Today, Kouklia is a thriving community. Palm trees are planted in the main-street entrance of the village adding a special beauty. The streets of the village -clean and well looked after -bring the visitor to the central plaza where the church of the Apostle and Evangelist Luke stands. The inhabitants of the village are distinguished for their piety and respect for the sacred and the holly. Around the village there are either chapels or ruins of chapels that testify for the piety of the inhabitants.
There is a regional Elementary School in the village, which both the pupils of Kouklia as well as the ones from the neighbouring village Nikokleia attend. Also, a police station, a health centre, and a state-owned nursery (greenhouse) have their headquarters there. In the village plaza there are several coffee-houses and taverns that offer luxuriant food and entertainment.
The rapid tourist and structural development, the archaeological findings of the area, the “Petra tou Romiou” venue, the legend of Aphrodite, the unsparing natural beauty of the region, and the unique combination of mountains with the deep blue sea give the village of Kouklia a uniqueness that cannot be found anywhere else.