During the times of Ancient Greece, Cyprus was home to gods and heroes. Nowadays, the lords of the elements and the arbiters of fate surrendered their island to people.

 

On the highway leading from Paphos to Limassol, there is a road sign showing the way to the Bay of Aphrodite. According to the famous legend, this bay is the very place where the goddess Aphrodite came into this world from the sea foam. Today, however, only mortals come to this rocky beach, hoping to find eternal youth in its waters.

The Oval is the tallest commercial building of Cyprus. The 16-story building resembling a 75-meter full-blown sail is located in one of the business districts of Limassol. Its panoramic windows offer a fantastic view on the nearby bay and its beach. The Oval also boasts a roof garden and a huge gym for those who want to get into shape.

The highest point in Cyprus is Mount Olympus, which is 1952 meters high. On its slopes there is a ski resort that operates a couple of months a year, while its peak is home to a British military base.

An old piece of lace is kept in the Cathedral of Milan. It is said Leonardo da Vinci brought it from a visit to Cyprus and left it at the Cathedral as a donation, to cover the altar. In the six hundred years that have passed, virtually nothing has changed in the tiny Cypriot village of Lefkara near the city of Larnaca: local lacemakers are still making their embroideries. Their craft is called Lefkaritika, and the lighter and finer is a piece, the more expensive it is.

The main relic of the Orthodox Cypriots is the wonderworking Icon of the Virgin of Kykkos. Legend has it the icon was painted by the Apostle Luke himself. It is kept in the Kykkos Monastery, hidden behind a cover and unveiled only during the most important rites – but even then the monks do not dare look at it.

The famous Akamas nature reserve is a botanical Noah’s ark of sorts: a vast array of European, African, and Asian flora can be found here. It is also a hatchery: sea turtles come here to lay eggs on the sandy beaches.

The alligator gar, the jaguar cichlid, the venustus hap, and over a thousand other exotic fish species found home in Protaras Ocean Aquarium, the largest in all of Cyprus. Crocodiles, penguins, parrots, and even raccoons live here too, and any of them can be symbolically ‘adopted’ which involves supporting the animal financially.

Larnaca Salt Lake is Cyprus’ swampland. During the winter months, it fills with water, attracting flocks of flamingos, swans, and ducks, while in the summer, the water evaporates, exposing the deposits of salt that was extracted here as long ago as in the 15th century by the Venetians. On its bank is Hala Sultan Tekke, the famous mosque.

Limassol Marina, Cyprus’ only dock able to handle super-yachts, is located in one of Limassol’s liveliest neighborhoods, famous for exquisite boutiques, gourmet eateries, and a bustling nightlife. Each villa of the complex possesses its own mooring space or direct access to the beach. All the advantages of the ‘under the sail’ lifestyle are at a stone’s throw from the heart of a modern city.

Three Museums

  • The Limassol Castle is probably the most appropriate place for a Medieval-themed museum. The Knights Templar, the Genoese, the Venetians, and the Knights Hospitaller all once fought battles here; within its walls, Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre. The museum’s collection comprises armor and weapons.
  • Once the stronghold of Cyprus’ rulers, Kyrenia Castle is now the Museum of shipwrecks. Its main treasure is the Kyrenia ship, the only Ancient Greek ship that survives to this day. It sank in the 4th century BC and was recovered in the 1960’s.
  • Paphos Archaeological Park with its ancient remains is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its most spectacular exhibits – the Agora, the Odeon, and the temple of Asclepius – date back to the 2nd century AD. The real eye-catchers, however, are the magnificent Roman pebble mosaics of the House of Dionysos.
 

Text: Maria Vorobyeva

Published on: December 28, 2017