15 January 17
Posted at 10:55
Cyprus the eigth country I visited for Project 28. My chosen town is Paphos. This would be my final visit in 2016. With days now short and in general the weather getting grim I would take a few weeks off shooting after Paphos.
Paphos Town Centre
Pafos town centre resembles a bomb site. Apart from a small area around the little bus station every street and square is in a state of refurbishment. This all in preparation for Pafos becoming the European City of Culture 2017 which kicks off in February.
Paphos Town Centre
I can't see the town being ready by then.
European City of Culture 2017
It's difficult to envisage Paphos as the European City of Culture and impossible to envisage any sort of culinary culture. The restaurants, bars and cafes both in the town and the currently somewhat more presentable port area pander to the taste of both tourist and the massive ex pat community. Both are predominantly but not exclusively British. the attraction of Cyprus to the Brits is not only the climate and relatively low cost of living but seems to also stem from the UK's military bases historic and current in Cyprus. I was in Paphos in December so not the tourist high season but I met many Brits who have either emigrated to Cyprus or at least spend the majority of the year there. Many of these had served in the military stationed in Cyprus at some point in their lives. The majority of ex pats I met hailed from Northern towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire and also the Midlands. In my brief encounters with them they gave me the impression of stereotypical 'leave' supporters, middle aged or elderly, white and from 'working class' areas. I must say most also appeared stereotypes you would expect to offer you some moody merchandise or worse. It is wrong to 'judge a book by the cover' of course. I was struck by the irony of probable Brexit supporters currently enjoying the benefits of freedom of movement and the right to reside and work anywhere in the EU. In discussing my project and their situation none volunteered any concerns about their way of life changing. Many had opinions on migrants and migration not appearing to grasp the irony of their comments.
So in the City of Culture it was not easy to grasp what the culture of Pafos or indeed Cyprus is. It looked more and more as though the town had sold its soul. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Kings Avenue.
Kings Avenue Mall
Between the port and the town is Kings Avenue Mall. The mall appears to be the pride and joy of the town. A grey metal and concrete monstrosity photographed here from one of the 'archaeological sites of special interest'. I never ventured into the mall but from seeing the signage it contains the usual raft of global corporations from Costa Coffee and Waggamama to Zara, M&S, Mango et al, I'm sure you get the picture. There is nothing particularly Cypriot or Greek about the content or the architecture. For me that's a shame.
There are in and around some examples more typical of the local culture and history. There are many archaeological sites.
Archaeological Site of Kato Pafos
Saranta Kolones Castle
To the North of the harbour lies the site of Kato Pafos. To the left of the road is a large area with many ancient building remains, catacombes, amphitheatres etc. For a small admission fee you can enjoy walking around the large archaeologocal site.
Basilica of Chrysopolitissa
On the other side of the road are Ottoman and Medieval baths and the Basilica of Chrysopolitissa. The Basilica site for me typifies what I found to be the chaotic management, direction and planning in Pafos. Whereas in the main site one can wander amongst the ruins without restriction, which is nice from a freedom perspective but not good for preservation. Across the way at the Basilica an elevated walkway, wide enough to be able to accommodate two wheelchairs alongside each other, over the site and alongside and in front of the church. This grey metal and wooden structure has really destroyed the aesthetics of the building, it is on top of many ancient stones, foundations and pillars. One gets the impression that the construction of this platform no doubt displaced and moved many of the ruins, add to that the installation of floodlight boxes at ground level. It is difficult to imagine that this site is as it was discovered or that archaeologists had a great deal of say in its current presentation.
In 2014 the Pafos2017 team selected five Cypriot artists to create twelve sculptures along the coastal path at Pafos as part of and ready for the City of Culture year. This is one, Sol Alter by Yiota Ioannidou, the others are a collection of themes with little cohesion.
The port is pleasant and I imagine very lively in the season.
To my surprise there are numerous banana plantations surrounding Pafos. I was unaware that bananas even grew there, they are unique to the Pafos area.
Fishermen Pafos Port
This scene, somewhat romantically I guess, is in my mind what I would expect. Three fishermen sitting putting the world to rights under guise of fishing. There were at least a smattering of such simple living traditional Mediterranean folk to be found in Pafos but they were lost amongst the 'immigrants' from other EU states, most notably the UK but also Germany and Scandinavia. The economy, businesses and politicians appear to panda to the needs of ex pats and tourists, understandably but sadly as the traditional way of life disappears. I wondered if being a member of the EU had accentuated this change and the globalisation epitomised by Kings Avenue Mall. I also wonder if Pafos will be ready to be the European City of Culture, if the town refurbishment will be complete before the end let alone the beginning of the year. If I'm honest I am unsure that City of Culture will ever be a description applicable to Pafos.
So Cyprus is the 8th country I have visited and the last for 2016. In late January I will be off to France and Spain followed by Ireland. Thereafter I am scheduling Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland to be covered in one rail trip. By early May I will have photographed towns in 20 of the 28 EU states. I have 8 other states to fit in from Finland to Greece.