Barnabas and Paul's Travels across Cyprus on the way to Paphos

At this time, both Seleucia and Salamis were amongst the region’s main cargo ports and centers of international trade, and there was doubtlessly much coming and going between them. There is also little doubt that those who journeyed to Antioch from Cyprus in Acts 11:20 would have traveled between these two ports, taking advantage of the frequent shipping traffic.
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Barnabas and Paul used the Southern Roman Roads

Missionary Journey

It is therefore likely that when Barnabas and Paul arrived in Salamis on the Cypriot east coast, the local Followers of The Way were already expecting them.

Since the Bible clearly emphasizes that only the two of them set out for Cyprus. John Mark, could have very easily gone ahead of them to prepare their way.

During this time, Salamis was the island’s primary port, as well as its main commercial center, certainly a city with a large enough Jewish population to support multiple synagogues.

 

Thebeach at Salamis where Barnabas and Saul probably came ashore
Beach at Salamis Harbor

And although Acts 13:4-12, does not include any details of what happened in the island’s synagogues, by the time they arrived in Antioch in Pisidia, a regular pattern seems to have been established by the pair with regards to their approach when preaching to the Jews.

Remains of the Ancient Harbor at Salamis
Part of the Ancient Port of Salamis

Here they went into the synagogues on the Sabbath and took their seats. After the passages from the law and the prophets had been read the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message,
‘Brothers if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation please do so.’ Paul stood up, raised his hand for silence and began to speak:

[Acts 13:13-16]

Given the Bible’s detailed descriptions it is easy to imagine how Barnabas and Paul would have preached to the island’s Jews as they proceeded along the southern coastal roads of Cyprus through the major centers of population and passing by some of the main pagan cult centers of the eastern Mediterranean.

We have come here to tell you the good news that the promise made to our ancestors has come about.
[Acts 13:32]

From Salamis they traveled west along the Roman roads to the town of Tremithous on the Mesaoria Plain. Since horses were a luxury reserved solely for the wealthy, the military and imperial officials, it is most likely that Barnabas and Paul would have traversed the island on foot, covering between fifteen and twenty miles per day.

Each night they would have stopped at private church houses, owned by fellow Christians; this much may be gleaned from other parts of the New Testament which chart the course of early Christian history.

Each day, with one heart, they regularly went to the Temple,
but met in their houses for the breaking of bread;
they shared their food gladly and generously;
they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.

[Acts 2:46]

Given the fact that the distance from Salamis to Kition via Tremithous is only around thirty miles, this initial stage of their journey would not have taken them very long. Kition, of course, as has already been said, was where Lazarus had made his home following his forced retreat from Bethany. There, according to ancient Cypriot tradition, he was ordained as the city’s first Bishop by Barnabas and Paul on their way across the island.

Their travels then took them to the major cult-center of Amathus along the Augustan road, Cyprus’ southern coastal route during the first century. Amathus, at the time, was also another of the island’s prosperous port cities, and, as such, would have been home to a substantial Jewish population, since they had by then established themselves quite successfully as a merchant class in most coastal cities around the Mediterranean Sea.

Aphrodite's Rock and the southern coastal road, seen from nearby cliffs
Aphrodite's Rock along the southern coastal road

One easy day’s journey westwards, brought the pair to the foot of the Kourion cliffs, with the city perched high above them. Unlike Amathus, which was still at the height of its splendor, Kourion had already started its gradual decline, and was by then not much more than a larger settlement adjacent to the Sanctuary of Apollo, another of the island’s main pagan cult centers.

From here, the ancient road swept inland somewhat, crossing the west coast’s craggy rock formations past Aphrodite's Rock, 'birthplace' of the goddess, to cover the thirty six mile distance between Kourion and Nea Paphos, which was the seat of the Roman Proconsul.

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that the Roman Proconsul’s villa in Paphos has been subject to extensive excavation works by archaeologists, and is part of the area around Paphos harbor which has been designated by UNESCO as an official World Heritage Site.

“There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Elymas, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus.
[Acts 13:6]

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"When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.
John was with them as their helper."

[Acts 13:5]

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Sunset at the Ancient Port of Salamis
Barnabas and Saul probably landed here

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Cross-Section showing ancient amphorae loaded into the type of sailing ship which traveled the MEditerranean for more than  a thousand years
Cross-Section of a similar kind of ship that sailed the Mediterranean Sea at the time of Barnabas and Paul

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Amphora
Ancient Amphorae used for transporting goods such as olive oil and wine..

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Ancient Shipwreck discovered off the North Cyprus Coast
The Kyrenia Ship which sank off the North Cyprus coast over 2,000 years ago

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Main Street of Ancient Salamis in Spring
2nd century road laid over much older main road leading into Salamis

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Cyprus' southern coastal road between Kourion and Paphos
The coastal road between Kourion and Paphos

Columns at the Proconsul's Villa Publica in Paphos
Colonnade at the Proconsul's Villa Publica

Replica 6th Century Ram Sculpture
Replica 6th Century Ram
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