Fun things to do in Cyprus

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    Limassol

    by grayfo Updated Jan 19, 2014

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    Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus with a deep-water port where regular cruises set sail for the Holy City in Israel or the Pyramids of Egypt. Home of the Keo distillery and winery Limassol is the second largest town in Cyprus; it has a large port, which is busy with ships visiting from all over the world. There are no real beaches in Limassol town centre but there are a few man-made ones, such as Ladies Mile situated west of the new harbour. There is a vast array of accommodation along the sea front, ranging from: the most luxurious hotels to the more humble apartments, all offering a good standard of accommodation depending on what you want. Must see sights include: the medieval castle, the Archaeological Museum, the Folk Art Museum and the Public Garden to name but a few.

    June 1997

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Larnaca

    by grayfo Updated Jul 31, 2013

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    Larnaca is a modern city built on the remains of ancient Kition an underground complex of temples dating from 1300BC; it is the third largest town in Cyprus, has the largest airport and is situated to the south of the island.

    During the day Larnaca town centre has lots to offer from a local market selling anything from fruit and vegetables to hand made goods. The lace products are of great quality and are ideal for taking home as presents for family and friends. It is 5 km from Larnaca International Airport to the city centre.

    Birthplace of the stoic philosopher Zeno, Larnaca was also the second home of St. Lazarus, who arrived there after his resurrection and later became its first Bishop.

    The town regained its standing in the 17th century, when it became the consular and commercial centre of Cyprus, and its port once again flourished with trade. It was also here that the British landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island.

    Must see sights include: the church of Saint Lazarus, an important Orthodox pilgrimage site housing the tomb of Saint Lazarus. The Fort of Larnaca that was originally built by the Venetians in the 15th Century, and the Kamares Aqueduct to name but a few.

    June 1997

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Girne (Kyrenia) Castle, North Cyprus

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jun 25, 2013

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    The castle which lies to the north - east of Girne (Kyrenia) dominates the harbour and is built on the tetragonal form.

    It is first referred to by ancient sources in the year 1191 A.D. When the English King Richard The Lion Heart defeated lsaac Comnenus on his way to the Crusades and conquered Cyprus.

    The entry to the castle is through its north-west entrance which is opposite to a bridge covering the moat. The moat which covers the landsight of the castle was full of water prior to XIV. A.D. and served the purpose of an interior harbour to the castle in those days. From this first gate, lying to the north west of the fortified wall built by the Venetians in XIV. - XV. A.D. you go to the entrance of the Lusignan castle following a vaulted corridor.

    Two Lusignan coat-of-arms over this wall were previously outside the castle and were manted in their position during the beginning of the present century. Through a closed passage to the left of the corridor you enter a church in the form of a cross dating to Early Byzantine Period (The Church of St. George). The dome of this temple which has marble columns with Corinthian capitals was restored very recently. The Corinthian capitals of the marble columns were taken from an older building elsewhere and placed here.

    This Church which was outside the castle walls during the time of the Byzantines and the Lusignans, was left within the castle after the fortified walls were built by the Venetians.

    The West wall, the north - west tower, the south wall and south - eastern and west towers of the castle which is stoutly built and has gunfurrets, belong to the Venetian Period.

    The tomb in the entrance corridor of the Lusignan castle belongs to the Algerian Turkish Admiral Sadik Pasha who took over Kyrenia in 1570 A.D. Through this entrance corridor you arrive in an open yard. The big constructions containing arched rooms (royal guard rooms, prison etc.) to the north and east of the yard belong to the Lusignan Period. The Royal quarters to the west of the yard, as well as the big and arched windows of the little Latin Temple, at present without a roof above this part, display the characteristics of Lusignan Period. On the southern part of the yard there are fortifications and remains belonging to the Byzantine Period.

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    Girne (Kyrenia) Harbourside, North Cyprus

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jun 25, 2013

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    Before the British occupation of the island in 1878, Kyrenia harbor was a quiet, often ignored, port between Cyprus and mainland Turkey. Kyrenia harbor is currently a tourist resort. Tour boats cruise the coast, skillfully avoiding military camps and trash dumps on the shore. Its a charming and tiny harbour, full of yachts and fishing boats, is framed by the colossal hulk of its Crusader castle.

    On the day time nice to seat at one of the cafes and sip ur drink facing the huge old castle, and as sun goes down and heat gets cooler, time for a perfect seafood dinner and then enjoy a bar w live music ...

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    Visit the Kolossi Castle

    by greekcypriot Updated Mar 30, 2013

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    The Kolossi Castle is a stronghold a few kilometers outside the city of Limassol. It held a great strategic importance and contained production of sugar, one of Cyprus' main exports in the Middle Ages. The original castle was possibly built in 1210 by Frankish military when the land of Kolossi was given by King Hugh I to the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers) (see also Commandaria), and the present castle was built in 1454 by the Hospitallers. Besides the Hospitallers, other dwellers in the castle include Richard the Lionhearted, and the Templars. It is one of the most important medieval archaeological monuments. The stunning signature of the castle informs that the castle was in RIGAS KIPRU hands and that no one could own defensive castles or weapons. In the 14 century the castle was used as a sugar apothecary.

    This Crusader castle of Kolossi towers over a landscape of vineyards famed to be used by the knights of St John during the crusades. The castle was built in 1210. The British restored the castle in 1933. It is an isolated building overseeing a flat plain as most castles do in those day for strategic reasons. Walking into the castle, you wonder what used to go on, in those days within these walls. The castle is made out of large blocks of stone which matches the country side giving it a whitish appearance. It has magnificent architecture within the castle grounds but looks square and flat from the outside.

    A trip to Cyprus is not complete without a visit to Kolossi Castle.

    ENTRANCE FEE IS JUST 1.70 euros!

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    Coach trip from South to Kyrenia & Famagusta

    by greekcypriot Updated Jul 17, 2012

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    The Eman -English guided excursions have different day trips including visiting the north. A leaflet I have from last year indicates that the trip Kyrenia and Famagusta (including Bellapais Abbey) cost 45 euros last year. I think this will help you and it is indeed a nice trip out there.

    Contact www.emantravel.com
    E mail: info@emantravel.com -for a personal question
    Tel: +357 23721321/ 23721336.

    NOTE: Passport or European Union ID Card is needed for trips to Kyrenia and/or Famagusta. Entrance fees for all excursions are included in the prices but not meals. Infants up to 2 years -free
    From 2 up to 12 years old the price is half.

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    Protaras

    by grayfo Updated Jun 6, 2012

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    Protaras is located on the old city of Leukolla on the East coast of the island and is a fully-fledged family orientated resort full of hotels, restaurants and the occasional disco. The beach is ideal for swimming; the sand shelves gently into the clear blue sea, which includes excellent water sport facilities. The offshore rocky islet offers the chance of some small degree of seclusion although you have to be a fairly strong swimmer to reach it. Protaras is 14 km to the east of Ayia Napa.

    June 1997

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Paralimni

    by grayfo Updated Jun 5, 2012

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    Paralimni is situated in the South East of Cyprus, a little way inland. Within the town square are three churches and an open-air theatre. The most interesting church is the oldest. It is open to the public and now serves as a museum. A number of quiet bars and cafes can be found in and around the square. These make a very pleasant change from the noisy English disco-bars of Ayia Napa and the moronic banter of the English DJs.

    June 1997

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Ayia Napa

    by grayfo Updated Jun 5, 2012

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    Ayia Napa is located on the far south-east of the island and is the major tourist resort for the young (think Blackpool). Attractions include Waterworld, an excellent water based theme park with a fun fair adjacent. Apart from the monastery, everything else is very commercial with the streets lined with gift shops all selling similar goods. The town also boasts a number of excellent beaches that are popular for water-skiing, windsurfing, canoeing, scuba diving and speed boating.

    June 1997

    See My Travel Page for more information.

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    Highlights of the north

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    Northern Cyprus was once the main focus of tourism on Cyprus - greener, softer, its ruins more romantic, its main towns more picturesque. Since the division of North and South into seperate countries, tourism - based largely on sun and seaside holiday packages - has boomed in the south but if you want to see what is generally regarded as the most beautiful scenery on the island and its most evocative mediaeval ruins, you need to visit the north.

    Pretty little Kyrenia (Girne is the Turkish name) and the surrounding villages on the north coast is where most of the north's hotels and holiday villas are to be found. The town itself is with its harbour and castle is charming and together with the mediaeval abbey at Bellapais and wonderfully romantic castle of St Hilarion (both on its outskirts), they form a trio of not-to-be-missed sights.

    Famagusta's massive Venetian walls, extraordinary Gothic cathedral-turned-mosque and melancholy ruined churches, and the nearby excavations of Roman Salamis are easily seen on the same day, an interesting mixture of a once magnificent mediaeval city and a vast spread of classical ruins. You'll need to allow yourself at least one extra day in this part of the island if you want to explore the prehistoric Royal Tombs that lie just outside Famagusta and the wild and remote Karpas Peninsula.

    Of course there is more to see in both these areas than just the sights mentioned here. As we stayed in Bellapais, Kyrenia and its immediate surrounds were the area we got to know best - enough to warrant a page of its own. Places we visited for just a few hours are included on this general Cyprus page.

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    Back, back, back.....

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jan 12, 2012

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    ...into the deepest time. Archaeological sites telling of Cyprus' earliest history are to be found all over the island and various museums hold wonderful artifacts dating back to man's earliest days on the island.

    So why have I chosen to illustrate this tip with a photo of a rusting jetty stretching out into Guzelyurt Bay on the north coast,west of Kyrenia? These are the last remnants of the mining industry whose name was synonymous with Cyprus throughout the ancient world - copper. Cyprus means "the island of copper" and the modern scientific word for copper cuprum was the Romans name for the island. Copper was mined here for millenia, to be shipped all over the known world. By the mid-20th century it was all but gone; the division of the island saw the last mines closed forever.

    The island's numerous museums hold a treasure trove of artifacts illustrating the pre-historic past. Almost every town has a museum with some spectacular local finds on display while the National Archaeolical Museum in Nicosia 's collection houses the best of the best from the whole island.

    Cyprus' pre-historic past can also be found at sites like Kalavasos-Tenta, a Neolithic site, 35 km outside Larnaca, just off the main highway - you can't miss seeing the huge white tepee that protects the walls of circular houses dating back to the 8th century BC (open Monday to Friday throughout the year, small entry charge). That's all we managed to do this time - see the tent from the road. Next time ....

    Short winter days on this years's visit curtailed several plans we had to explore the island's prehistoric sites. The Royal Tombs near Famagusta intrigued us but time ran away with us and they too will have to wait until another time. Even had we planned our day around Famagusta a little better I doubt that there would have been time to visit though - two days is definitely a more realistic time frame to spend in the area than the single day we spent there.

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    Salamis

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jul 2, 2011

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    Lovers of classical sites will find much to please them in a visit to Salamis and could well find (as we did) what starts out with the intention of a short detour on the way to Famagusta ends up as several hours spent among the extensive ruins of this most impressive and evocative place.

    Founded by the Greeks (legend says it was, Teucer, a hero of the Trojan Wars who founded the city in the 12thC BC), expanded by the Romans, for centuries Salamis was the most important city in Cyprus. Destroyed twice by earthquakes in the 4th Century, inundated by tsunamis more than once it its time, rebuilt by the Byzantines, the city's end came finally with the Arab raids of the 7th century. Slowly disappearing beneath encroaching sand dunes and seaside vegetation, the ruined city became a quarry for nearby Famagusta until it disappeared from sight and memory for centuries. Archaeological excavations began when it was rediscovered in 1882 and continued sporadically until the division of the island in 1974 when all activity ceased. Excavation resumed in 1998 and continues slowly but the site is vast and much of it is still untouched and is likely to remain so for some time to come.

    Little apart from some stretches of wall remain of the Greek city. The ruins that remain are Roman and Byzantine.

    The site is huge, exposed and overgrown. Unless you restrict your visit to the main area of excavation near the entrance (the baths and the gymnasium) come prepared for a fair bit of walking over often rough ground - as much as 5km if you want to see it all. There are no convenience or refreshment stops once you move out into the wider reaches of the site and not much shade. There's a loo near the carpark and a restaurant (closed on the winter's day we were there) near the entrance. After that, you're on your own, so wear a hat and sunscreen and bring water if you're visiting in summer and a rain jacket or umbrella in winter; sturdy and comfortable shoes are a necessity at all times of the year.

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    A mediaeval monarchy

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jun 21, 2011

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    When the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem came to its inglorious end , the ousted king, Guy de Lusignan, faced with the prospect of life as a minor nobleman back in France, did what many retiring colonial civil servants and army officers still do - opted for life in the sunnier climes of Cyprus. Styling himself King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, he had little trouble persuading other battle-wearied Crusaders to stay with him and soon a glittering court was established. Famagusta became the wealthiest city in the western world when the Pope passed a decree forbidding Christian dealings with Muslims and all the trade that once passed through the Levant en route to Europe was now centred there. Nicosia and Kyrenia prospered too and, what with trade, dynastic marriages and its proximity to the Holy Land, little Cyprus packed a punch way above its weight in the mediaeval world.

    The Lusignan dynasty ruled Cyprus for almost precisely three hundred years, from 1192 to 1489. The first two hundred of those years were largely times of peace and prosperity. These were the years that saw two splendid cathedrals built - the one in Nicosia used for the coronation of the King of Cyprus; the other, in Famagusta, - the closest city to the Holy Land - for the coronation of the King of Jerusalem. Of course, they were the same man but, by now, looking east and looking west was firmly entrenched in Cypriot ways.

    There had been Orthodox monasteries on the island for centuries; the supremacy of the Latin church at this time saw just about every western European monastic order establishing a community, though only the beautiful French Gothic abbey at Bellapais, home to the royally-favoured Premonstatensian order has survived. Today Bellapais Abbey's ruins vie with the nearby mountaintop castle of St Hilarion (built by Byzantines and fabulously refurbished and enlarged by the Lusignans) as to which is the most romantic and picturesque sight on the whole island - IMO it's a tie.

    This splendid sunlit kingdom was not to last. The great trading city-states of Genoa and Venice to the north were hungry for much more than just a share of the spoils coming Cyprus' way and to the the east and south the Mamelukes and Ottoman Turks were both of a mind to swallow the island into their empires. The last 100 years of Lusignan rule were times fraught with danger and intrigue, exacerbated by dynastic shenanigans that wouldn't have been out of place in a Byzantine court - the ultimate outcome of which was the somewhat suspicious death of the last of the Lusignan kings and his heir, upon which the grieving widow and mother (a Venetian) ceded Cyprus to Venice.

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    The last 500 years

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Jun 21, 2011

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    After taking effective control of Cyprus in 1474, and formal possession fourteen years later, Venice's domination was to be fairly short-lived. Knowing that the might of the Ottoman Empire was only a stone's throw across the water, they increased the fortifications of Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia, kept on trading, and watched and waited. When the invasion came, in 1570, Nicosia fell in just six weeks and Kyrenia surrendered with hardly a fight - only Famagusta held out, withstanding a siege that lasted ten months. When you stand in the now-dry moat of the city's walls and look up, you really get an idea of how they were able to hold out so long.

    By August 1571 however, it was all over, Cyprus was once again ruled by a power from the East and, even though Orthodox Constantinople was now Muslim Istanbul, the Ottomans at least permitted the Orthodox to worship in their own way (as long as they paid their taxes) and the reviled Popish practices and feudal serfdom imposed by the Frankish kings were cast out.

    The Ottomans were to rule for three hundred years, years that saw little in the way of physical changes to the island. The Lusignan cathedrals in Nicosia and Famagusta sprouted minarets; the Catholic monasteries were handed over to the local Greeks while nearly all their buildings were used as quarries for stone for local houses; neighborhood mosques were built. The longest-lasting effect of the takeover was the immigration of mainlanders to the island, Turkish Muslims who came to take up land and stayed, sowing the seeds of the bitter division that was to see the island split in two by a second military Turkish invasion in 1974 - almost exactly 400 years after the first.

    Before that cataclysmic event though, there was to be one more foreign power in control. All through the 19th century Great Britain ruled the waves, and a great deal of dry land as well in all corners of the globe. Her interests in Egypt coupled with the Ottoman's fear of Russian expansion led to a treaty being signed between the two empires in 1878 that ceded the island to Britain. Typically British, they built good roads and bridges, reforested the Troodhos and introduced British order and reform to take the place of corrupt Ottoman bureaucracy. Eighty two years later, following a very dirty small war between the might of Britain and the guerilla forces of the home-grown EOKA, Cyprus was, for the first time in all those centuries, a single sovereign state albeit an edgy one.

    That state of affairs didn't last long. Independence wasn't easy, distrust and tensions grew between the Greek and Turkish communities. UN peacekeepers were sent to try to keep things calm but when a mainland-Greece-led coup attempted to bring about union with Greece in 1974, Turkey send an invading army to protect the island's Turks and Cyprus has been a divided island since that day.

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    Greeks, Persians and others

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 16, 2011

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    There's nothing new about the division of Cyprus into two seperate states. Throughout its long history, the island's position at the very crossroads of sea routes between Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and its hinterlands and North Africa have seen it divided up between the various powers jockeying for domination in the region. Phoenicians, Assyrians, even Hittites all established colonies in places. Several Greek city-states were founded over the centuries from the first arrival of the Mycenaens in about 1400BC; Persia ruled most of the island through the fourth and fifth centuries BC and then Alexander the Great swept the island up into his empire. Despite becoming part of Ptolemy's Egypt after Alexander's death the die was cast - from this time on, the island looked north to Greece for its arts, its beliefs, its culture.

    There are no great Classical Greek ruins on Cyprus such as are found in Sicily and Libya. This is not to say you won't see the remnants of the early city-states and later Hellenic cities - there are many sites that date back through the more than 1000 years of Greek colonisation and influence of the island but some have been Romanized and, with a few exceptions, those that remain purely Greek do require some judicious interpretation to visualize the original buildings out of what remains. Certainly the most intact are the 4th century BC rock-cut Tombs of the Kings at Paphos.

    Similarly, the time spent under Persian domination, centuries which saw the Greek tyrants reduced to client-kings forced to pay tribute and provide the Persian emperors with fighting men and ships for their many foreign wars, have left little that is tangible. Even the so-called "Persian palace" at Vouni, near Guzelyurt in North Cyprus is, most probably, a palace built by a pro-Persian Phoenician during the time of the Persian satrapy, rather than a residence for an actual Persian princeling.

    Of all who occupied the island, often it's artifacts in museums that tell of their passing. Some, like the statue of Artemis of Ephesus and the Classical black on red pottery (both in the Guzelyurt Museum) are unmistakeably Greek. Others, like the stone potrait head (photo 3) in the museum at the St Barnabas Monastery near Famagusta are more mysterious - this man was never part of a Greek statue.

    The Greek ship museum in Kyrenia Castle has a fascinating story to tell - not only is the hull of the oldest ship ever found on display but with it, among many other things, there are the bowls the sailors ate from and the almonds that were a mainstay of their diet.

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Cyprus Things to Do

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Your first priority upon arrival to the Island  is to get to the nearest Tourist Information Centre. You will be amazed with the material you will be given. (Colorful booklets,...

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