On an island where the majority of the population is Greek Orthodox, the church of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa is a dream come true for many Catholic couples who want to tie the knot in paradise. It’s a beautiful church, which traces its roots back to the largest basilica of Cyprus in the 4th century AD.
Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa: The Church at St. Paul’s Pillar
Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa – also Agia Kyriaki (St. Kyriaki), Panagia Chrysopolitissa (Our Lady of the Golden City), the Church at St. Paul’s Pillar, and St. Paul’s Catholic Church – is a religious landmark in the Kato Pafos area inscribed in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1980.
It’s a beautiful church – in tan, umber, and ochre earth tones when seen from afar – set amidst the ruins of a former Bizantine basilica, a Gothic place of worship, and the columns once used to punish the unruly. One of these posts, just outside the walls of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa, is the legendary St. Paul’s Pillar, said to be the very spot where Roman Governor Sergius Paulus punished the Apostle for preaching Christianity on Cyprus.
The patchy history of the church is not unusual considering that Cyprus was at the crossroads of many cultures and peoples. Reigned by Assyrians, Persians, and Egyptians in ancient times, even taken over by Alexander the Great, then falling under the rule of the Roman and Byzantine empires, raided by Arabs, and a favorite stop in the way of the Crusaders, Cyprus eventually lost a lot of her temples during the Ottoman occupation. It’s a wonder that the church of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa was spared at that time. The Gothic church built in the 13th century near this sacred destination was destroyed. Its ruins, hard to distinguish from the remains of the first basilica, make a pretty setting for walks and wedding photography.
The consecrated building standing today on some of the foundations of the former basilica was erected around 1500 AD during the Venetian rule on the site of an earlier church destroyed by the earthquake of 1159.
The church of Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa is a favorite wedding venue for Anglican and Catholic couples. Ceremonies are regularly offered here. The structure can accommodate up to 200 guests.