Cyprus Cities

Lefkosia (Nicosia)

Lefkosia is the capital of Cyprus since the late Byzantine period, 11th century AD, and is situated in the middle of the island. Lefkosia still remains the last European divided capital.

Lefkosia is a busy modern commercial and business center with cosmopolitan rhythms. The history of the city dates back to the Bronze Age. In antiquity and in early Christian times it was known as Ledra. During the Frankish (Luisignan) period Lefkosia was transformed into a splendid town, with royal palaces and 50 churches.

Contemporary Lefkosia combines the historic past with the liveliness of a modern city. The centre of the city is its old quarter surrounded by a Venetian sandstone fortress wall. Old Nicosia (Lefkosia) lies within its distinctive star shape walls which were built in 1567 by the Venetians. About six kilometres in length, there are eleven arrow-shaped bastions jutting from the wall and three entrance gates - the Famagusta, Paphos and Kyrenia. A deep moat was dug around the wall and in the winter months would fill with water diverted from the River Pedhieos that runs through the city. Following the Turkish Invasion in July 1974, Nicosia remains the only divided capital in the world today and walking along any of the main streets, the way is barred by walls of sandbags which mark the Green Line that divides the city and is patrolled by soldiers from the United Nations. To gain an insight into the sadness that prevails in the city, it is worth visiting the Shacolas Observatory which offers 360° panoramic views over the whole city with audio presentations in four languages explaining events leading up to the occupation and pointing out all the landmarks on both sides of the Green Line.

Stroll around the narrow streets, admire the beautiful old houses of Medieval and traditional Cyprus architecture with their overhanging balconies, as well as, ancient churches and museums. Walk along the restored pedestrian shopping area with traditional craft shops, cafes, and tavernas. Whole neighbourhoods as well as selected buildings are being restored and renovated to preserve the atmosphere of bygone days. Laiki Geitonia, is a must visit place, with craft shops, cafes and tavernas, which maintain the atmosphere of the olden days. Make sure you stop at St John’s Cathedral with its frescoes and the marvellous museum of Byzantine icons.

The new and modern town of Lefkosia extents outside the ancient walls. The capital centre in European style, incorporatesstate of the art buildings, office blocks, beautiful shops, design cafes and restaurants further expanding to suburban residential areas.

Of the city’s main sights, the Cyprus Museum houses the best collection of archaeological artefact''s on the island, including a first century AD Roman statuette of Aphrodite of Soli and the original mosaic of Leda and the Swan, while the Leventis museum depicts the history of the town.

Lemesos (Limassol)

Lemesos is the island’s second largest city, a city that sparkles with energy and ‘joie de vivre’. Lemesos is conveniently situated 35 minutes away from both Larnaka International airport and Pafos airport between the two ancient city-kingdoms of Amathus and Kourion. It is the island’s main port, the centre of wine industry and a fascinating holiday resort which caters to a variety of tastes and preferences.

Underneath the magnificent backdrop of the Troodos mountain range, the town’s tourist strip stretches along the coastline and is packed with hotels and restaurants, pubs and night spots. A splendid promenade extends over a large area of the coastline. Behind the promenade lies busy St Andrews street, with quant little shops offering local jewellery, souvenirs and local crafts. At the end of promenade you will find Limassol Marina which combines elegant residences and a full service marina with an enticing mix of restaurants and shops, to create a lifestyle uniquely shaped by ''living on the sea''.

Makarios Avenue, in the centre of Limassol town offers mainstream shopping with prestigious boutiques, designer outlets and showrooms, as well as small shops of every type.

A destination with marvellous sandy beaches and high standard accommodation, professional financial and business services, countless of activities and entertainment spots. The people of Lemesos have a fun-loving reputation and are very proud to host and stage some of the island’s best known festivals, such as the annual Wine Festival in September, when various wineries offer free samples of their produce and the Carnival in February with the grand fancy dress chariot parade and masquerade parties. Not surprisingly the nightlife is varied with all sorts of taverns, clubs and discos.

Its unique identity is based in its rich history which spreads out between two ancient city kingdoms: Amathus on the East and Kourion on the West, two of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Cyprus. Kourion, is one of the most interesting and spectacular archaeological sites on the island with excavations still bringing new treasures to light. The magnificent Graeco-Roman Theatre was originally built in the 2nd century BC and enlarged in the 2nd century AD. It is now fully restored and used for musical and theatrical performances. Amathus, provides interesting excavations and numerous tombs have been found. One such tomb can be been found in front of the Amathus Beach Hotel.

In the old town, the medieval castle radiates out from the old fishing harbour and was the site that hosted the royal wedding in the Middle Ages between Richard the Lionheart and Berengaria of Navarre.

Take some time to enjoy the charming surrounding countryside and head towards the Kolossi Castle, one of the most important fortress in Cyprus built by the Franks in the 13th century. Kolossi Castle is also where the delicious sweet dessert wine ‘Commandaria’, the world’s oldest named wine was produced.

Resume your drive to the north of Limassol on the way to the southern villages of Troodos driving through the scenic wine producing villages or ‘Krassochoria’ as known in Greek. Experience the history of traditional Cyprus wine making, take a stop at a winery and sample Cyprus wine and visit the picturesque villages. Lemesos with 100 villages within its district, including the magnificent Troodos mountain range makes it ideal for exploring traditional Cyprus. Among the most popular villages is Lania, Lofou, Vouni and Omodos.

Limassol offers all of the attractions of a seaside town with beaches, water sports and diving as well as the family attractions of Water parks and the Zoo. The restaurants provide a full international choice of food and there are many excellent local Tavernas serving Cypriot specialities. The night life is lively and vibrant with a wide choice of clubs, wine bars, pubs and disco’s. If you are looking for a mix of cultural activities or just the seaside experience, or both, then Limassol is the place to be.

Larnaka

A beautiful picturesque town on the south eastern coast of Cyprus. Larnaka is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world and birthplace of the philosopher Zenon, founder of the Stoic school – later taking on his name – the Kition. During the 1888th century Kition was a commercial centre, the principal port and the seat of the European consulates.

Modern Larnaka is built over the ancient kingdom of Kition, the remains of which can be found in the heart of the city, reminiscent of glorious days.

Larnaka nowadays is regaining its old glory and importance thanks to tourist infrastructure, marina and the new astounding Larnaka International Airport.

Stroll along the lovely palm-lined sea front promenade known as the ‘Phinikoudes’. Phinikoudes is one of the main streets of Larnaka and it hosts some of the most hip bars, restaurants and cafes, while the beach which lies at the side of the palm trees is a great favourite among locals and tourists alike. Along the Athinon Avenue is the statue of the ancient philosopher Zinonos Kitieos. The area is the venue for the two week Kataklismos fair held every year usually in June. Kataklismos fair meaning ‘festival of the flood’ is the Christian feast of the Pentecost and is the biggest folklore festival of Larnaka and Cyprus and is celebrated in all seafront towns of Cyprus. The fair is organised by the Larnaka municipality and attracts more than 300,000 people. The festival programme includes popular concerts, traditional competitions of dances, singing, poetry, music, satire, theatre, swimming and sailing contests and impressive fireworks.

Nearby is the scenic marina where you will see the locals walking on the romantic pier surrounded by yachts. At the far end of the ‘Phinikoudes’ stands the Larnaka fort, built in 1625. Today the castle houses the medieval museum. Close by is the beautiful Saint Lazaros church, one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus. The church was build in the 10th century over the Saint’s tomb. Larnaka was the second home of St Lazaros where he lived after his resurrection and later became its first bishop. Next to the church one can also find the Ayios Lazarus Byzantine Museum. Larnaka has a museum in every corner. Worthwhile visiting are The Larnaka District Archaeological Museum, The Laiki Group Cultural Centre, The Pierides - Tornaritis Palaeontology Museum, and The Larnaka Town Museum, The Larnaka Municipal Museum. Actually, the best way to enjoy the magical beauty of Larnaka is to explore it on foot. If you prefer an informative and guided tour you can select one of the two hour Larnaka walking tours organised by the Cyprus Tourist Organisation or one of the Larnaka cultural walks organised by the Larnaka Tourism Board.

Larnaka is the hometown of one of the 10 most interesting diving wrecks in the world, the Zenovia wreck, and many people travel to Cyprus just to explore this wreck. The boat Zenovia sank in Larnaka bay in 1980, just 1 km from the coast, fortunately with no casualties. It is nearly 200 metres long and remains completely intact. The top of Zenovia is just 16 meters under the surface and all the trucks can be seen either in the wreck or lying on the seabed close by.

Another landmark of Larnaka, is the group of salt lakes near the old airport which form one of the two unique wetlands in Cyprus and are of significant environmental importance and beauty. For several decades in the last century, the salt from the lake had been processed until found unsuitable for consumption. Yet, the salt lake is still a most vital site for wild life. The salt lakes till up in winter make up a favourite stop over for thousand of immigrant birds including elegant pink flamingos, ducks, swans and sea gulls making up a photographic masterpiece. In recent years great attention is given to the preservation of the environment and the area has many unique spots to be enjoyed by the nature lovers.

Next to the salt lakes is the mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke, built in honour of the Prophet Mohammed’s aunt. The mosque was built in 1816 over the tomb of Umm Haram and is the third most important pilgrimage site for Muslims in the world ranking immediately after the shrines of Mecca and Medina. Tekke hosts cultural and entertainment events, as well as a small museum.

Outside the main town on the way to Limassol stands the old Aqueduct known as ‘the Kamares’. It was built in Roman style in 1745 to carry water from a source about 6 miles south of Larnaka into the town and remained in use as late as 1930.

On the outskirts, the Angeloktisti Church in the village of Kiti has rare 6th century Byzantine mosaics and Stavrovouni monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Cyprus. Choirokoitia and Tenta are important Neolithic settlements, the former being a world heritage site.

Larnaka’s perfect location makes it a perfect starting point from which to explore Cyprus and especially the region with its endless possibilities close by. Villages offering agrotourism, beautiful, sports and recreation, cultural events, religious tourism and authentic Cyprus taverns are just a pick.

Ayia Napa & Protaras

Ayia (Agia) Napa and Protaras are the free part of the Famagusta (Ammochostos) area and are located on the eastern coast of Cyprus. Once sleepy fishing villages, Ayia Napa is today, along with the neighbouring Protaras, the coastal area of Paralimni, favoured hot spots and popular holiday resorts, which buzz with life. The area is a true paradise, with golden sandy beaches and crystal clear and tranquil waters that combines luxurious hotels, happy atmosphere and vigorous nightlife – whether you are looking for a family break or a memorable holiday with your friends. Agia Napa has striking natural beauty with secluded coves, impressive cliff top views and sea caves, Kavo Greko (the Cape Greco) is a must visit. The most popular beaches in Agia Napa are Makronissos and Nissi beach. Some of the best beaches in Protaras are Fig Tree Bay, Konnos Bay and Pernera Beach.

But there is more to the area. Visitors can also admire a number of Byzantine and Frankish monuments as well as museums such as the "Thalassa" Museum of the Sea. Sights worth a visit is the medieval monastery in the centre of Ayia Napa and Profitis Ilias church situated on the hill in Protaras offering great views of the area especially early in the morning and during sunset.

For a totally different and unique perspective we recommend that you take one of the nature trails. The nature trails passing through Cape Greko National Forest Park are full of surprises. The park is of great ecological value and hosts rare species of flora and fauna. Many of the 36 different orchid species growing on the island can be found here.

Outside the boundaries of Agia Napa and Protaras is the main producing area on the island and is known as Kokkinochoria meaning ‘red soil villages’: Avgourou, Deryneia, Frenaros, Vrysoulles, Liopetri, Sotira, Xylotymbou and Achna, because of the fertile red earth in which they are grown.

Devotees claim that Cypriot potatoes are the most delicious in the world. The area is also renowned for its strawberries and watermelons, each honoured with their own festival on different occasions during the year. The villages are equally renowned for their folk poets and traditional song performers, who are regarded as the most inspired on the island.

Very close to Ayia Napa, Potamos Liopetriou or Liopetri River is well worth a visit. Potamos is a rare treat; this small fishing enclave boasts some idyllic scenery and it is ideal if you opt for a relaxing day and fresh fish.

Pafos (Paphos)

Pafos (Paphos) located in the west coast of Cyprus is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love. Pafos is surrounded by an air of romance and seduces its visitors with its majestic landscape, historical sites, beautiful coastline, medieval pafos monasteries, byzantine churches and delightful villages where tradition is still a way of life. Opt to stay in one of the many available traditional houses and move ahead to explore the countryside and tranquil villages where the old traditions and customs have been kept alive.

The famous Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite''s Rock) is located on the west coast, approximately halfway between Lemesos and Pafos highway. It is propably one of the most beautiful and most photographed places in Cyprus. The rock''s history, enshrouded in myth and legend, is captivating. It is famous as, according to the myth, the place where Aphrodite was borne ashore on the sea foam. Another story, is that the legendary Greek giant hero, Digenis Akritas, hurled the giant rock into the sea to destroy enemy Saracen ships.

During the Hellenistic and Roman times Pafos was the capital of Cyprus. Bursting with ancient sites, Pafos is of such outstanding historical value that UNESCO added it to their World Cultural Heritage list. The exquisite floor mosaics - which date from between the 2nd and 5th century AD and depict scenes from Greek mythology, the underground Tombs of the Kings - an impressive former burial site that overlooks the Mediterranean, St Paul’s pillar, the medieval castle are among the most interesting places of interest.

The city is composed of two distinct districts: the touristic Kato (lower) Pafos and the older, more characterful Ktima (Upper Pafos). Developing through modern times Pafos boasts to have luxurious accommodation facilities, quality service, cosmopolitan nightlife and premier golf resorts. Next to the romantic harbour and the medieval castle visitors can enjoy culture under the stars, such as the annual opera performance.

The Monastery of Agios Neophytos has wonderfully colourful frescoes painted on the walls in a cave that the hermit carved out of the mountain. Chrysorrogiatissa Monasery is worth visiting form its fine icons and a taste of the locally produced vintage wine from its own winery.

Leaving Pafos and continuing north takes you through some of the island''s most beautiful coastal scenery where you can encounter many attractive and intriguing villages. There''s Pegeia - with its early Christian Basilicas, Drousia - with its stunning view of the Troodos mountains and Chrysochou Bay, and Polis Chrysochou - city of the Golden Land - which is an especially charming blend of old and new.

Feel one with nature and head for the Polis area. Polis, which in Greek means ‘town’, is situated on a beautiful seep of bay, with the rugged Akamas peninsula to the west and the pine clad Troodos Mountains as its backdrop. The Akamas peninsula, the jewel in the region’s crown, is an area of natural wilderness with dramatic coastlines and sandy coves. Explore the picturesque villages, walk along the many scenic nature trails or take a boat trip along the dramatic coastline.

The Akamas peninsula, with its tabletop mountain, spectacular views between pines to turquoise waters down below and the famous Baths of Aphrodite where the legendary goddess of love is said to have relaxed in the cool spring waters, is an excellent place to admire nature on foot or by bike. This remote, untamed area is perfect for exploring. Remote, beautiful, and unspoiled, the Akamas is among the most beautiful parts of the island. The area is ideal for hiking, cycling, diving and swimming in crystal clear waters. The Akamas peninsular is a turtle sanctuary and their nests are sometimes difficult to spot, so take care where you park your car and sun umbrella!

The fishing shelter of Polis, Latsi, with its waterfront promenade and long sand and pebble beach, is now being expanded into a marina. Latsi is reowned for its seafood. Along with a broad range of watersports that will appeal to the adventurous, Latsi also offers relaxing boat trips along the rugged coastline of the nearby Akamas wilderness.

Pafos with its romantic and pleasant harbour and medieval fort combines a cosmopolitan holiday resort, spectacular countryside and historical sites.

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