Cyprus. Travel and vacations on the island of Cyprus.

Cyprus. Travel and vacations on the island of Cyprus.

Anthem of Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, divided between two states – the Republic of Cyprus, with a predominantly Greek population, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which has serious problems with international recognition and difficulties with visas. Antique and Byzantine archaeological sites, sandy beaches with well-developed infrastructure, mild climate, shallow sea, pervasive road networks, variety of prices and high level of service – all this attracts tourists from all over Europe to Cyprus. Most of the resort towns are popular during the summer season, but some tourist spots are designed for year-round recreation.

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Cities of Cyprus

Climate

Summer in Cyprus is hot, but high temperatures are relatively easy to endure because of the humidity and cooling sea winds. Winter is mild and sees most rainfall, while the short autumn and spring are usually dry. In spring, winds from Arabia and Africa bring light sandstorms. At the end and beginning of the season, in May and September, the evenings are cool; in winter, tourists have enough demi-seasonal mid-European clothing.

Cape Greco The streets of Cyprus

The history of the island of Cyprus

Like most Mediterranean islands, Cyprus often changed owners. Archaeological evidence tells us of pre-Greek tribes, who lived here during the Stone Age. During Greek rule a legendary event happened in Cyprus, the birth of Aphrodite from the sea waves, the dividends of which the Cypriots still enjoy to this day. Subsequently, the ancient Greeks came under the rule of the Roman and then Byzantine Empire.

Centuries later, the islanders successfully resisted the Arabs, but were overthrown by the English in the person of King Richard the Lionheart, who sailed here on his travels in the Middle East. Richard was not pleased with his new acquisition, and yielded Cyprus to the Templars. The Knights did not find it too appealing either, so the island was sold to the Lusignan family – French aristocrats. After them, Cyprus was ruled successively by the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. The latter were formally expelled from the island by the British, but many Turks have remained on the island, rightly considering it their homeland. The Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots did not get along with each other.

The ruins of the ancient city of Salamis near Famagusta

After World War II, clashes between the Christians, represented by the Greek Cypriots, and the Muslim Turks escalated, especially in the 1960s, when Cyprus gained independence and the British withdrew from the island, leaving only two military bases. In 1974, the supporters of accession to Greece came to power in Cyprus, and the Turks decided to get ahead of the game. In July-August 1974, a major military conflict broke out: the Turkish army landed on the island. In the course of the battles, several thousand people died. Intervention by European countries’ representatives stopped the fighting and the island was divided into two parts with a buffer zone between them with a UN contingent. Northern Cyprus, which occupies about 40% of the island, remained unrecognized by anyone but Turkey. Recently, however, its people, two-thirds Continental Turks, have felt an unexpected sympathy for their neighbors successfully admitted to the European Union, while Turkey is clearly not threatened with that in the near future. The wall that divided Nicosia into parts was torn down, and they began to talk about the unification of the countries, but it is primarily the Greek Cypriots who oppose the process.

Nicosia from above

Natural attractions of Cyprus

The easternmost point of the island of Cyprus is a high rocky Cape Greco with a lighthouse on top. Part of the area is closed to tourists because of the British military presence, the remaining parts of the transparent sea are used for diving and snorkeling. At 2 km from the sea is a national park “Cavo Greco” with unique plants, bike paths, places for picnics.

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The famous salt lakes of Cyprus are located near Limassol and Larnaca and bear their names. Limassol, the largest body of water on the island, dries up in the summer, leaving a smooth surface that is used for motor vehicles. Its marshy shores are overgrown with reeds and water birds nest there. Larnaca Lake is a complex of 4 bodies of water connected to each other. Flocks of flamingos love their shores.

Flamingo Lake Limassol Dry Lake Larnaca Millomeris Waterfall

Waterfalls of Cyprus are located on mountain rivers, almost drying up in summer, they are accessed by railed paths. The best access to Millomeris Falls is from the village of Pano Platres, in the Troodos mountains. Caledonia on the same river is inferior in height, by 2 meters. It is more difficult to get there – the 2 km long route requires frequent walks in the water, which is cold by Cypriot standards. The noisiest waterfall of Cyprus is 8-meter high Hantara. 7-meter high Mesa Potamos falls over the rocks in spectacular cascades. When heading to the waterfalls you need to keep in mind the altitude of about 1 km above sea level, where it is much cooler than on the coast. The most picturesque streams in winter and spring, when the rivers are full.

Atalassa Forest Park on the southeastern border of Nicosia preserves species endemic to Cyprus. The area is peppered with cycling and hiking trails along a total length of 20 km. In the suburbs of Paphos there is a picturesque gorge Avakas, which requires from tourists a good training and comfortable shoes. In spring the water level rises sharply, so the river has to be crossed wet to the knee. In the rainy season it is dangerous to be here, as the water can rise in a matter of minutes.

Atalassa National Park

The sea caves off the coast of Paphos and the glittering white rocks of Limassol are popular in Cyprus. North of Limassol begins the Troodos Mountains, the busiest region of Cyprus in the winter season, when you can ski in the mountains. On the Akamas Peninsula on the western tip of Cyprus, you can walk the Aphrodite Trail and take a dip in the baths named after the goddess, a modest natural body of running water.

Sea Caves off the coast of Paphos Wedding photo shoot at the Aphrodite Rock Cave

Sightseeing Resorts

Cyprus’ towns and villages are geared for different categories of tourists – families with children, elderly couples, young people. Some of them are buzzing with life even in low season, others prefer to take a break from visitors in winter. But even in the smallest villages there are enough attractions of different epochs to satisfy the most demanding connoisseurs of history.

Larnaca

Lying on the southeastern coast of Cyprus, Larnaca has become the economic center of the island thanks to the development of tourism. It was inhabited as early as the 13th century BC by the Mycenaean Greeks, who built their city-state of Kition, then passed on to the Phoenicians. The Turks left in Larnaca the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque, one of the shrines of Islam, now defunct. Perfectly visible from Larnaca Lake, the building has classical forms with a semicircular dome and a sharp minaret. Today’s city is full of dark sand beaches and palm-lined Finicudes promenade, shallow sea, and hotels with excellent service.

Larnaca Pafos Archaeological Park

Paphos

The historical center of Pafos, located in the south-west of Cyprus, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many archaeological finds tell the story of the island before the arrival of the Greeks after the Trojan War. The archaeological park of Paphos is open from 8 to 17 o’clock in low season, until 19.30 in high season and the ticket price is 4,5 euros. The Greeks were succeeded by the Romans, in the I century AD the Cypriots adopted Christianity en masse. Villas of the II-III cent. with well-preserved mosaics remained from the Roman period.

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Church of Saint Paraskeva in Paphos, a squat building with umbrella domes and frescoes of IX-XV centuries, was built during the iconoclasm no later than 843. Another interesting monument of religious architecture is the 13th-century Panagia Odigitria Church with later frescoes near the sanctuary of Aphrodite. The church of Panagia Theoskepasti was built in the 10th century right on the rock – it is hidden by the grand staircase, but the rough stones of the natural foundation are perfectly visible from behind.

By the 19th century the town was virtually deserted. To revive it, resorted to simple measures – cleaned up the harbor, built in 1888, the lighthouse height of 20 meters and in the twentieth century began to reap the benefits of tourism boom. At the same time in the vicinity of Paphos continuous excavations were carried out, revealing new secrets of the history of Cyprus. A 3rd century BC necropolis was discovered 2 km north-west of the harbour. the “Tomb of the Kings”. Have been buried in them, however, the ordinary aristocrats, not monarchs – “royal” burial with colonnades called for the luxury. Necropolis is accessible to tourists, the cost of his visit – 2.5 euros.

20 km northwest of Paphos are the man-made caves of Cape Drepano, former burial caves, and the ruins of the port city. The Church of Saint George was built here about 100 years ago. It is an ornate church building of local stone, with patterned windows and a red-tiled roof – a typical modern Christian structure on the island.

Royal Tombs of Pafos The Eneolithic settlement in the village of Lempa

In the village of Lempa, near Paphos, Scottish archaeologists have reconstructed a Eneolithic settlement of 5,000 years ago, using the same materials and technology. In the village of Empe, near Paphos, tourists often visit the 12th-century church of Panagia Chryseleousa, with its 18th-century annex and unique 12th- and 16th-century frescoes. In the same area, 20 minutes drive north-east of Paphos, there is the Monastery of Holy Cross of Mint with a single inhabitant. The monastery got its name because of the peppermint bushes on the nearby hills. The main shrine of the monastery – the crucifix with parts of the original cross from which Christ was removed – during one of the raids the Turks stole it and threw it into the bushes just outside the gate. The locals found the cross and gave the monastery an additional name in honor of the miraculous event.

Ayia Napa

Popular youth resort Ayia Napa, lively in summer and sleeping peacefully in winter, by origin – the ancient monastic area, even in the XIV century, covered with dense forests. According to legend, the monastery was built near the cave, where an ancient Byzantine icon was found. Historians are inclined to believe this explanation, since during the iconoclasm in the VII-VIII centuries in Cyprus, the owners of the images could easily be executed, so the faithful hid their property who could. Now the monastery has been turned into a museum.

Ayia Napa, permeated with religious spirit, led a modest provincial existence, until 50 years ago, when so many tourists came here, that it’s unreal to rent a room in the city without pre-booking during the season. Club Street concentrated nightlife, the Luna Park had rides, including the Catapult, which takes off 10 meters. A dinosaur park was built for children. Ayia Napa offers guests the best beaches in Cyprus with white sand, rental boats and yachts. On one of them, the “Black Pearl”, visitors will be shown a pirate show.

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Limassol

Tourists come to the city in the southern part of Cyprus all year round. A few tens of kilometers from Limassol are located ski slopes. There are many archeological monuments around the city, as elsewhere on the island: the sanctuary of Apollo, built in the V. B. C., the ruins of Kourion, partly destroyed in the IV century. Nowadays you can see the theater, a Roman forum, mosaics, an early Christian basilica, baths and a gladiator’s house, which were found by archeologists. 6 km from Limassol are the ruins of ancient Amathous. The women’s monastery of St. George Alamanou is 10 km from the city in the direction of Larnaca. In XII century it was founded as a monastery for men and then it was empty for a long time. In the 19th century on its ruins a new complex was built, again for men and again it was deserted. Finally in 1949 it was inhabited by women and since then the community has flourished.

In the city itself, elements of ancient and modern architecture of different nations coexist. The city castle is formally a monument of the early Byzantine era, in fact the Turks built it at the end of the 16th century on the ruins of a thousand-year-old building. Now it is a museum with a ticket price of 4.5 euros, which tells about the history of the island of Cyprus and how the castle married Richard the Lionheart. From the Turks survived the mosque Jami from the 16th century. The coastal promenade Molos decorated with modern sculptures. Kilometer long promenade ends with the Old Port with a statue of a mermaid and a marina with dozens of expensive yachts. The city park is decorated with a bust of Pushkin, for the delight of Russian tourists.

Protaras

Protaras is built on the ruins of the Greek town Lefkola and a fishing village, 6 km northwest of the youthful Ayia Napa. Here prefer to stay the native Cypriots and foreign connoisseurs of a quiet family vacation. There are few sights in Protaras – a compact stone temple of Elijah the Prophet of the XIV century, the show “Singing Fountains”. In winter the resort falls asleep and the white sand beaches become empty.

Panorama of Protaras Protaras

Turkish Cyprus

Kyrenia is the main tourist destination in the Turkish part of the island. The city is famous for the Byzantine fortress of the VII century with a Maritime Museum inside. Its most important exhibit is a ship lifted from the bottom of the sea and restored. Around Kyrenia there are three surviving Crusader fortresses and in the castle of St. Hilarion, at 732 meters above sea level, there is now a museum. It was built in VII century in order to defend against the Arabs and was named hundred years later after the hermit Hilarion the Great, who was hiding from the world in its surroundings. The castle was rebuilt several times, the last variant dating back to the 10th century. The Lusignan dynasty used it as a residence, and the Venetians who came to replace it, abandoned the castle.

Another popular resort on the Turkish side of Cyprus is Famagusta, a port city. Tourist infrastructure with beaches, water parks and water attractions begins 5 km from the city limits.

Cyprus. Travel and vacations on the island of Cyprus.

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