Cyprus Main Cities of Larnaca Limassol Paphos and Nicosia
Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, a status it has enjoyed for 1000 years since the 10th century, though its beginnings date back 5000 years to the Bronze Age. It lies roughly in the centre of the island in the Mesaoria Plain, flanked by the beautiful northern range of Kyrenia mountains with its distinctive ‘Pentadaktylos” – the five finger mountain. There are various suggestions as to the origin of the name Nicosia – or ‘Lefkosia’ In Greek – but the most likely one is linked to the popular tree, the tall ‘Lefki ‘ which once adorned the city.
Seat of Government, Diplomatic headquarters and cultural centre of Cyprus, the capital presents two distinct faces: the old, original part of the city, surrounded by sturdy Venetian walls over 400 years old, and a busy modern metropolis which has a population of 171.000 together with the suburbs. . .
Within the large area encircled by the strong bastion walls that served to protect the town for centuries are many places of great historic interest.
The central Eleftheria Square links old Nicosia with the elegant modern city that has grown up outside the walls, where hotels, offices restaurants and gardens blend happily with the fine old houses and colonial buildings of this cosmopolitan city.
Limassol – The Second City
The south coast town of Limassol is the island’s largest seaside resort. Acting as a magnificent backdrop to the city that spreads for ten miles along the coast are the Troodos mountains, in whose fertile foothills most of the country’s grapes are grown. Since the Middle Ages when the Crusaders heid Cyprus under Richard the Lionheart, Limassol has been known to traders for its wine and sugar cane. Now, this second largest city of Cyprus, with a population of 135.000 is the centre of its wine-making industry, and an important commercial and tourist centre.
The town’s carefree holiday atmosphere, with wide seafront promenade and bustling little shopping streets, is matched by the gaiety and lively character of its people. With its fun-loving reputation and the best nightlife on the island it is fitting that only Limassol stages some of the Island s best-known festivals: the annual Wine Festival in September, when the various wineries offer free samples of their products for ten days: the ten day pre-Lenten Carnival with masquerade parties balls and grand parades, the Limassol Festival in summer and the ancient Drama Festival at Kourion.
Concentrated chiefly on the eastern side of Limassol, all types of holiday accommodation have been built close to the sea These range from luxury hotels. to apartments and villas Near them are a wide range of tavernas pubs, discos and nightclubs There are numerous beaches to choose from. some very popular during midsummer with the convenience of changing rooms, showers, cafes and bars, others quite uncrowded, particularly those on the outskirts of town, such as the sandy beach Known as “Ladies Mlle’, west of the new harbour. Limassol also has an attractive, newly-completed marina equipped with every facility for the yachtsman.
As a shopping centre Limassol offers the full gamut from ultra-modern to traditional and handmade. European wares have place alongside local produce, and as in other parts of the island, shoes and clothes can be made to measure in a matter of days. Busy St Andrews Street, not far from the seafront promenade, makes a fascinating trip with its quaint buildings and overhanging terraces, under which a cornucopia of small shops vie for attention on this narrow, jostling street. Another important shopping street is Makarios Avenue, where many prestigious boutiques and showrooms are located, as well as small shops of every type.
A tour to one of the wineries can easily be arranged in order to witness production and taste the final product. Down near the old port is Limassol Castle, where Richard the Lionheart allegedly married Queen Berengaria of Navarre in 1191 and crowned her Queen of England – the first Coronation and Royal Marriage to take place outside England. Its grounds house the Medieval Museum of Cyprus with interesting pottery and tombstones amongst its numerous exhibits. Limassol also has an Archaeological Museum, with fascinating statues and pottery finds, the municipal Art gallery as well as a FolkArt Museum where specially staged room-sets display the old clothes and utensils to their best. The Municipal Gardens with small zoo offer a pleasant stroll amidst lush trees plants and shrubs.
On the edge of Larnaka Bay the palm-lined seafront of Larnaka town bustles with cafes, tavernas, shops and bars. Historic charm is lent to the scene by its fortress castle, now used as the town’s summer cultural centre. Larnaka is an excellent base from which to get to know the central and eastern section of Cyprus, and its proximity to the International Airport and a number of luxury hotels that have been developed along its beautiful sandy beaches make this a popular holiday choice. Larnaka was originally known as Kition, or Khittim, and legend has it that the first settlement at the spot was founded by Noah’s grandson Khittim. But the name Larnaka probably comes from the Greek word “Larnax”, which means sarcophagus many of which have been unearthed in this area.
The town’s heyday was as an ancient city kingdom established by the Mycenean Greeks in the 13th century BC, when it enjoyed the dual position of rich sea port and major centre of the copper trade. Remains of that period excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean walls and a complex of Mycenean temples at the ancient Kition site.
Birthplace of the stoic philosopher Zeno, Larnaka was also the second home of St. Lazarus, who arrived there after his resurrection and later became its first Bishop. The Church of St Lazarus standing in the centre of the town is well worth a visit The tomb of St Lazarus, who is still the patron saint of Larnaka, is under the sanctuary.
The town was not to regain its standing until the 17th century, when it became the consular and commercial centre of Cyprus, and i’s port once again flourished with trade It was here that the British landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island.
Much smaller than Nicosia or Limassol, Larnaka has a population of 62.000 and has managed to retain a relaxed, leisurely atmosphere. Its main shopping area is Zenon Kitieos Street, a typically busy road of small shops, with a wonderfully colourful fruit and vegetable market at the far end.
Larnaka is known for its annual celebration of the Feast of Kataklysmos Greek Orthodox Whitsun – which is an important holiday The occasion is marked by enthusiastic water sports, feasting, singing and dancing.
The charming west coast town of Pafos focusses around an attractive little harbour whose picturesque open air fish restaurants line a quayside of bright fishing boats and pleasure craft.
Cyprus Properties Paphos
With a population of just 28.000 Pafos nestles In the lee of the Western Troodos Mountains, which add another dimension to this area of scenic beauty. The recent addition of its own international airport nearby has opened up the Pafos area, and the resort is graced with some luxury hotels along the coastline.
Pafos has an air of holiday charm combined with history, and olden-day elegance is lent to the town by its classical style buildings in the upper part of town which leads to the shopping area. The lower part of the town – known as Kato Pafos has a life of its own albeit so close by, down near the sea -home of the harbour, the fish tavernas, souvenir shops and several beautiful hotels with important archaeological sites around them.
Pafos is entwined with Greek mythology, and the legendary birth of Afrodite on her shores brought fame and worshippers there to follow the cult of the Goddess. Landmarks associated with Afrodite are the chunky, rugged rocks of her beautiful birthshore known as the Afrodite Rocks or “Petra tou Romiou”, the evocative sanctuary of Afrodite at Kouklia Village, one-time shrine and scene of pagan festivals for thousands, the Baths of Afrodite at Polis, supposed source of fertility and the Fountain of Love, or Fontana Amorosa, a few miles further into the Akamas Peninsula.
Even the town’s name is linked to the Goddess, for Pafos was the name of the mythological daughter of Venus and Pygmalion.
Pafos became the capital of Cyprus under the successors of Alexander the Great – the Ptolemies and in those days its harbour was a busy, thriving port. It continued as the island’s first city for more than seven centuries, retaining its importance under Roman rule Its most famous Governor Sergius Paulus, was converted to Christianity by St Paul in 45 AD.
But Pafos history dates back a great deal further. In fact the whole area abounds in historical and archaeological treasures.
The golden sandy beaches of the Famagusta district, Iying in the government controlled area, stretch out in the eastern corner of the island. The popular holiday making centres of Ayia Napa and Paralimni, have been called a veritable paradise for anyone who loves the sea and water sports.
The charming scenery includes the tiny fishing harbour of Ayia Napa, and the medieval monastery in the heart of the village, the wind mills and small churches in the surrounding villages, which spread out in the area of Paralimni and Protaras.
This region, which is the main potato-producing area on the island, is known as “Kokkinochoria” which means “red-soil villages”, Indeed, the soil of the whole area is deep red in colour, due to a very high metal oxide content.
The villages of this area are equally known for their folk-poets, who are in fact regarded as the best on the island.
Nine Byzantine churches in the Troodos mountains, are included in the oficial UNESCO list of cultural treasures of the World’s heritage:
Stavros tou Ayiasmati, Panayia tou Araka, Timiou Stavrou at Pelendri, Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis, Panayia Podithou, Assinou, Ayios loannis Lampadistis, Panayia tou Moutoula, and Archangel Michael at Pedhoulas.
The impressive Troodos mountain range stretches across most of the western side of Cyprus, offering cool sanctuary and idyllic hours spent in long walks in its scented pine forests in summer and winter sports and ski-ing in winter.
Here are the many famous mountain resorts, Byzantine monasteries and churches on mountain peaks, and nestling in its valleys and picturesque mountain villages clinging to terraced hill slopes.
The area has been known since ancient times for its mines, and in the Byzantine period it became a great centre of Byzantine art, as churches and monasteries were built in the mountains, away from the threatened coastline.
The Cyprus Tourism Organisation has a leaflet for the unique Nature Walks, which have been created by the Forestry Department in co-operation wlth the Cyprus Tourism Organisation at Troodos itself, with full details of the rich profusion of flora and fauna found on these very attractive walks, which attract many visitors every year.
In the Troodos mountain range, besides Machairas to the east, and the actual Troodos district around Mount Olympus (height 1951 metres), there are four other districts, each of which has its own character and separate charm.
These districts are:
1. Pitsillia to the east of Mount Olympus,
2. Solea Valley and the
3. Marathassa Valley to the north of Mount Olympus, and
4. Krassochoria (the Wine Villages) to the south (north-west of the Limassol district).
These districts are easy to reach from either Limassol or Nicosia.