Temple of Aphrodite Paleokastro
So, where was the beautiful ancient goddess Aphrodite born after all? We have many reasons to believe she was born in Kythera and much evidence to prove it! In one of the most amphitheatric parts of the island, mountain Paleokastro, at an altitude of 253m and three kilometers away from the coastal region of Skandia, was the temple of Aphrodite! Paleokastro spreads over an area of 145 acres and according to Thucydides, this was the site of “Ano (upper) Kythera”. On the top of the mountain lies the church of Agioi Anargyroi (Saints Cosmas and Damian), built in the 7th century AD, surrounded by the columns and Doric capitals of Aphrodite’s temple! Both inside and outside the church you can observe relics of the modest ancient sanctuary of Aphrodite, dating from the 6th century. Some of the temple’s columns are left whole while others are broken. There are also ancient limestone capitals, a few limestone boulders and part of an epistyle. When the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann visited Kythera at the end of last century, he expressed the opinion that the temple of Aphrodite, which declined during the first Christian centuries and gradually disappeared along with the statue of the goddess, should have been in that same place or somewhere nearby. Approximately 400 meters west of the church of Agios Cosmas, in a place called "Kolones" (columns), two upright pillars of the ancient temple stood until the end of the 18th century. Paleokastro bears the mark of three cultures, the ancient Greek, Christian and later popular culture. It has experienced disasters, pillaging, barbarian invasions and pirate violence. Nowadays’ visitors of Paleokastro constantly stumble upon porous rocks, small pillars and various other architectural remains of the ancient settlement, built in the beautiful rural houses nearby. There is also an ancient well with a limestone curb. Nicobey, an excursionist who visited Kythera, mentions that there was a statue of Helen of Troy, which was later transferred to Venice. He also refers to the legend that on this site Helen and Paris celebrated their love after her abduction and there was also a castle of Menelaus and a square tower.
According to the myth of the birth of Aphrodite, Kronos cut off the genitals of Uranus and threw them into the sea. As the waves pushed the bloody flesh, white foam formed around it, gradually taking the shape of a woman. When the foam reached the shores of Paphos in Cyprus, the woman came ashore. Thus was born a beautiful goddess, named Aphrodite because she came from the foam (aphros). She was also called “emerging”, as she emerged from the waves, “Cypris” (Lady of Cyprus) after the island she first set foot ashore and “Kytherea” (Lady of Kythera) because it is said that the foam passed by Kythera before arriving in Cyprus.