Hundreds of people have paid homage to the Ayia Solomoni Church in the heart of Kato Paphos, for above its catacombs stands a sacred tree believed to have curative powers. Its branches are adorned by colourful rags and bits of clothing left by the faithful as offerings to the saint and provide a humble experience for those who believe.
The Church itself is a small chapel that forms part of an underground complex of early Christian catacombs from the Hellenistic period.
In Medieval times, the site was a popular pilgrimage; it has also been known as ‘The Chapel of the Seven Sleepers’ or ‘The Seven Maccabees’.
Ayia Solomoni was one of the first to reject idolatry and embrace Christianity on the island. According to tradition, Solomoni took refuge in the cave to escape persecution from the Romans, but they walled up the entrance, condemning her to a slow and cruel death. Miraculously, when the cave was opened 200 years later, the saint walked out alive.
The site consists of an open court surrounded by five rock-cut chambers, one of which has a spring. The west chamber has an apse set into the west wall and remnants of twelfth-century Christian wall paintings. The names of thirteenth-century crusaders are among the graffiti cut into the plaster.
Located at a walking distance from the harbour of Paphos and its distinctive castle, where a sea side pedestrian promenade promises a great opportunity to get a feel of the coastal town.