By Bejay Browne
APHRODITE’S Rock in Kouklia near Paphos has been vandalized with an eyewitness telling police that a woman was seen spray painting red graffiti on the historic stone, also known as Petra tou Romiou, where legend has it that the goddess of love was born, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
The vandal is alleged to have daubed the word ‘love’ on the rock as well as collecting small stones, spraying them red and forming a large heart around other letters on the beach.
Her actions, which shocked locals and authorities, comes just days after the Green party issued a statement highlighting the need to protect the area in the wake of a number of boat trips, believed to originate from Limassol, visiting the landmark and disembarking passengers.
Paphos police spokesman Nicos Tsappis said that he was aware of a vandalism complaint made to Kouklia police.
“Police are investigating reports that a woman wrote the word ‘love’ on the rock as well as spoiling the beach. If a suspect is arrested, they will probably be charged with malicious damage.”
He noted that if the vandals come forward and admit to the crime, they would most likely only face a fine, unless they had a previous criminal record.
Secretary of the Paphos Greens, Andreas Constantinou, told the Cyprus Mail: “This is not the first attempt to try and abuse the rock. Unfortunately, now we see that stringent measures must be taken. The area needs a security guard and 24 hour CCTV surveillance.”
Constantinou stressed that no intervention must be made at the beach in order to carry out measures and that the cameras could be placed at the kiosk on the hillside above the beach.
According to the Greens, it has long been argued that the landmark should be better protected. He said the rock and surrounding area is the responsibility of the forestry and fisheries department. The later also handles marine protection both in and out of the sea.
“Neither the Department of Antiquities nor UNESCO protects the site, although it is part of the Natura 2000 programme.”
Constantinou said that the area is of vast significance, not only of magical and mythical importance, but also home to an array of important wildlife. He added that civil weddings take place on the beach and this should only be permitted if no platforms are constructed or stones removed.
He noted that the south side of the rock is home to hundreds or rare birds that chose to build their nests there. “They are important and must also be protected,” he said.
“We now have to prohibit many things. People mustn’t write their names in pebbles and then climb the rock every day. This cannot be allowed.”
Kouklia community board leader Michael Solonos said: “The council believes that the CTO and government authorities must find a way to protect such monuments as they have full responsibility. We hope that such actions will not take place again.”