The island of Cyprus is one of the largest islands in the world, as it occupies third place among the islands of the Mediterranean in terms of area. It is located on the trade route between three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean basin, southeastern Europe, and northwestern Asia. It gained its independence in 1960, after which it was divided into two parts due to the Turkish military intervention in 1974. The first part is the south and centre with a Greek majority and the second one is the north with a Turkish majority.
Cyprus contains six provinces, one of which is entirely in Turkish Cyprus, and three are located in parts of Turkish Cyprus. Here are some of them:
- Nicosia: It is located in the north of Limassol Province. It is also the capital of Cyprus and covers an area of 1,924 km2.
- Paphos: It is located to the west of the provinces of Nicosia and Limassol and covers an area of 1,390 km2.
- Larnaca: It is located to the east of the province of Limassol and covers an area of 1,041 km2.
- Famagusta: It is located to the east of Larnaca province and covers an area of 244 km2.
Since ancient times, Cyprus has been considered the crossroad of civilizations in the world, such as the Byzantine, Roman, and Greek civilizations. Cyprus was called by this name because of its fame for the abundant copper metal on its lands. It came from the Greek word Kypros, which means in Latin Cuprum, meaning copper.
Most of the residents of Cyprus work in agriculture. Some of the most critical industries on the island are food, wood products, chemicals, and others. Cyprus also occupies a distinguished position in the communication field due to the significant development in the communication network, where a network of optical fibres is available at the seabed.
The island also has a vast network of airlines that help link the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa together, which has helped increase the number of tourists on the island.
History of Cyprus
Many different peoples lived on this island. The Greeks settled there in 1200 BC. In the year 330 AD, the island fell into the hands of the Byzantines, and then King Richard seized the island in 1911 and sold it to the French.
In the 17th century, the Ottomans managed to control it until 1878. Then Britain took control of it in 1925 until it declared independence in 1960.
Weather in Cyprus
Cyprus has a temperate subtropical climate. It gets rainy and mild in the winter and hot and dry in the summer. As for snow, it falls in the central part of the Troodos Mountains, and temperatures on the island reach 24 degrees during the day and 14 degrees at night.
Things to do in Cyprus
The tourism sector is one of the most important things that distinguish Cyprus and one of the most vital sectors in it as it contributes to supporting the Cypriot economy. This beautiful island has lovely beaches and historical monuments, which are significant tourist attractions. We will get to know more about these places in the next part.
Cyprus Museum is located in the capital city Nicosia. With many archaeological sites on the island, the Cyprus Museum is the perfect place to include the collections uncovered from these sites.
The museum will let you learn more about the island’s history, where you will find collections from the Neolithic era until the Ottoman era. One of the essential things you will see is a vast collection of terra-cotta votive statues from the 7th century.
The Ancient Salamis is one of the famous attractions in Cyprus. It is located in the country’s north and is well-known for a wealth of marble ruins like the Ancient Kourion site. When you visit the site, you can walk through the tracks between the ruins of different periods, which will make you learn more about the history of Cyprus.
You will find grand Hellenistic statuary with no heads located in the middle of the ruins of the gymnasium. There are two ruins of Byzantine churches that stand in the middle of the fennel and weed field. Besides that, you will see a huge reservoir area that shows you the engineering ability and management since the old ages.
Church of Saint Lazarus
The Church of Saint Lazarus is located in Larnaka City in a square by the same name in the centre of the city, on the tomb of Saint Lazarus and the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI built it in the 9th century. The church is an excellent example of Byzantine architecture. It is made of stone, and you will also see a gold-covered iconostasis that shows you a beautiful example of baroque woodcarving.
The Archaeological Museum in Limassol
The Archaeological Museum was founded in 1948. It was located in Limassol Castle but moved to another building just 2 km away. When you visit the museum, you will see an extensive collection of artefacts found in Cyprus and show you the development of civilization from the Neolithic until the Roman period.
Inside the museum, you will find three exhibits: a pottery exhibit, coins and metal objects exhibit, sculptures and a tombstone exhibit.
St. Hilarion Castle is one of the top attractions in Cyprus. It is considered an old crusader bastion and the home of many legends. Much local lore says that a fairy queen built the castle, and they used to charm local shepherds on the slopes.
The castle is the perfect place for explorers. The rooms are snaked up the mountain, and there is a trail that goes through the lower part of the castle, where there are the soldier barracks, royal rooms, and chapels. You can climb to the top of the castle and see a beautiful view from there. Don’t forget to take some nice pictures while at the top!
Cape Greco is well-known as a protected national forest park. When you visit the place, you will love the nature surrounding you. There are natural trails and a beautiful sea view, and natural caves that you can explore.
There are about nine trails through the forests and along sea cliffs in Cape Greco, ranging from 1.5 km to 8 km. Besides that, the sea caves along the coast are where you can do many activities like snorkelling, swimming and much more.
The Kolossi Castle is located just outside Kolossi Village. It was known as a Crusader stronghold and set in an important strategic place in the Middle Ages. The castle consists of three storeys, and you can enter it by crossing over a bridge. It was built of stone with walls 1.25 meters thick.
Inside the castle, you can discover the rooms, like the dining room, storage room, and another room that was used to make sugar from local sugarcane.
It is one of the highest waterfalls in Cyprus. It reaches 15 metres and is located in a forest not far from the village of Pano Platres. It is one of the most beautiful natural places you can visit in Cyprus, and it is a perfect place for nature lovers. There is a parking lot available for people arriving by car.
Limassol Zoo is the largest zoo in Cyprus. It contains about 300 animals and birds, including zebras, tigers, falcons, and more. At the zoo, you will find that the animals there are divided into sections according to their species. Besides that, the history museum is located inside the zoo, where you can discover taxidermized animals, fish, and birds.
It is a perfect spot for families, especially kids, with events hosted in the zoo and playgrounds for them to play.
Hala Sultan Tekke
It is also called the Mosque of Umm Haram, which is considered a large historic Muslim complex located on the shore of Larnaca Salt Lake. The mosque was built in 648 AD, where Prophet Mohammed’s relative Umm Haram died and is one of the most important Muslim sites in Cyprus.
Protaras Ocean Aquarium
Protaras Ocean Aquarium contains more than 1,000 aquatic species. It is another lovely destination for the family. Besides the zoo, you will enjoy and discover life underwater.
There you will see many species like turtles, eels, crocodiles, and penguin houses, which are considered the home of the endangered Humboldt penguin.
Troodos Villages are located in the Troodos Mountains in the hill region in southwest Cyprus. This village contains houses built from stones and cobblestone alleys. Also, in these villages, you will find some beautiful churches and monasteries with lovely frescoes and wall paintings from the medieval era.
About nine churches in the Troodos Villages are given UNESCO Heritage status. One of the most important churches is the Church of Archangelos Michail in the village of Pedoulas.
The Limassol Castle is located just in the middle of the capital city of Cyprus. It was built in 1193 and rebuilt once again in the 19th century at the time when the Turks ruled. Inside the castle is the Cyprus Medieval Museum, which includes many items from Cyprus history from the 3rd to 18th centuries, like coins and weapons.
The Kykkos Monastery is located in the Troodos Mountains at the height of 1,318 meters. It is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Cyprus. The place was built in the 11th century, but if you visit there, you will see that the buildings are new, and that is because the original ones were burned.
The monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is also known as the home of one of the three icons attributed to Luke the Evangelist.
Kato Paphos Archaeological Park
The Kato Paphos Archaeological Park includes most of the ancient city known as the capital of Cyprus between the 2nd century B.C and 4th century A.D. It was also included on a UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980, and most of the ruins there are dated back to the Roman period.
When you visit the place, you will see some monuments showing the park’s history from the prehistoric era to the Middle Ages. Also, it includes a theatre, four villas, ruins of a basilica and much more.
Avakas Gorge is located on the Akamas Peninsula. It is a 3 km natural wonder with limestone about 30 meters in height. It is like a circular trail with a length of 7 km that goes through the gorge. While walking, you can admire the beautiful rock formation. The important thing is that you should be careful there while hiking because it’s difficult and the rocks can be slippery.
The Stavrovouni Monastery was built in the 4th century. It is located about 750 metres above sea level at the top of the hill of Stavrovouni. The place was built by St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great. Due to the strict rule of the monks in the monastery, women are not allowed to enter, and men should dress appropriately.
The Adonis Baths were well-known as a perfect place for the god Adonis and the goddess Aphrodite, according to Greek mythology. Today, it is a lovely choice for visitors to swim and have a great time, where there are the waterfalls below and a museum. You can also have mud therapy and take some beautiful pictures. When you are discovering the place, you will find a 10-meter statue of Aphrodite.
Nissi Beach is one of the famous beaches in Cyprus, with its white sand and beautiful turquoise water that gets crowded in summer. The water is very calm within the bay, making it a perfect place for families with many activities to do there.
Tombs of the Kings
The Tomb of the Kings is one of the famous archaeological sites in Cyprus. It is located near the Paphos Harbour and was built in the 4th century. It is a large place that includes many underground tombs. If you enter the site, you will see the lovely columns, frescoed walls, and the beauty of the tombs that gave it its name.
Castle of Paphos
The Castle of Paphos is located in the Paphos Harbour. It was built in the Byzantine era to protect the harbour, and you can enter it by an arched bridge. The building was destroyed and rebuilt many times; the last reconstruction was during the Ottoman era.
Many events are held in front of the castle throughout the year, including an opera concert every September.