A looming stack of rocks standing proud off the southwest coast of Cyprus, the UNESCO-listed Rock of Aphrodite, or Petra Tou Romiou (Rock of the Greek), is one of the island’s most famous landmarks and a popular side trip from nearby Paphos. Guarding the coastline since ancient times, Aphrodite’s Rock is more than just a geological wonder. The sacred rock takes its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, who is said to have to have risen from the ocean at this spot, and legend has it that in certain weather conditions, the waves rising and breaking against the rock create a cloud of sea foam that appears in the shape of a human.
Today the striking birthplace of Aphrodite is one of Cyprus’ top natural attractions and part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route, with visitors following the walking trail from the neighboring Kouklia beach or taking a boat trip along the coast. One of the most popular pastimes is swimming around the rock, an easy feat thanks to the mostly calm waters and, although it is not permitted to climb on the rock, the act of circling the rock is alleged to bestow beauty and fertility on those swimmers who complete the loop.