Cyprus – an archaeologist’s paradise
A country’s cultural heritage is the most important living treasure of its people. It is through this that its identity can be expressed and an awareness of its historical continuity through time can be created. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. It is situated at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. This geographic position has since antiquity played an important part in the island’s turbulent history. Its prehistoric age inhabitants were joined by the Mycenaean Greeks 3500 years ago, who introduced and established their civilisation, thus permanently instilling the island’s Greek roots. Many other cultures followed since then, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, British, all leaving behind visible traces of their passage.
On this island once walked Christ’s apostles. The splendor of the Byzantine Empire for many centuries encapsulated Cyprus. The island is an open air museum, where one can visit prehistoric settlements, classical Greek temples, Roman theatres and villas, Early Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles, Gothic cathedrals, Venetian fortifications, Moslem mosques and British colonial-style buildings.
In the villages one can still observe old ways of life, customs and traditions. Here, festivities whose origins hark back to the depths of antiquity are still being celebrated. These include Carnival and the Flower Festivals. Aphrodite, the ancient Greek Olympian goddess of beauty and love, who according to mythology was born on the island, still roams her beloved Pafos and the “Sweet land of Cyprus”, omnipresent in the bright atmosphere, the beauty of the landscape and the charm of the local people. At Kouklia, where once stood her great temple, now stands a church fittingly known as the church of “Panagia Aphroditissa”.
The immortal verses of the ancient Greek playwrights still reverberate on a balmy summer evening at the ancient theatre of Kourion and the Pafos Odeon, where classical Greek plays are regularly staged. And in the month of September, wine flows copiously and the spirit of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine and well-being, lives on throughout the duration of the Wine Festival. Popular medieval songs can still be heard on the island reviving the legends of Digenis, the invincible folk hero of the Byzantine era and the unfettered Rigaina, the beautiful amazonian queen. Cyprus, as the easternmost part of Europe, constitutes a cultural bridge between people of different religions, cultures and ways of life.
Please download the Visit Cyprus e-brochure on 10,000 years of history & civilization, compliments of the Cyprus Tourism Organization:
LIMASSOL – OUR HOST CITY
Legends of kings and kingdoms, and the origins of the island’s wine making industry characterize the Limassol region, which embodies both the ancient and the modern worlds. With its viticultural pedigree and a magical history, the region of Limassol simply sparkles with opportunity from coast to hillside.
Known as the region of wine, celebrations and ancient realms, Limassol (population 180,000) is comprised of its main city – which sits between two important archaeological sites; the ancient city-kingdom of Amathus to the east, and the ancient city-kingdom of Kourion to the west – along with rural areas and charming mountainous villages, where old traditions and crafts are still practised.
Limassol is the second largest city of Cyprus, the home of the island’s main port, and a bustling holiday resort. From its jewel of a marina and impressive archaeological monuments, to the vast 15 km coastal strip lined with restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and entertainment establishments, the main city is thriving and colourful.
The region also encompasses two unique wetlands. Germasogeia Dam is a peaceful place to relax, take a stroll, or enjoy a spot of angling, whilst Akrotiri Salt Lake is perfect for observing nature and wildlife (especially birds). The environmental significance of the Salt Lake and its surrounding area are showcased at the new installations of Akrotiri Environmental Centre.
The region then trails up the sun-kissed southern slopes of the Troodos mountains, with vineyards forming a pleasant green backdrop to the city. The hillside villages here are known collectively as the ‘Krassochoria’ (or wine villages), and keep their old traditions of viticulture alive, producing the island’s best wines even today, and especially one of the oldest named wines in the world – the sweet dessert wine of Commandaria. Here, visitors will find a tranquil, rural retreat where hiking and cycling can be enjoyed in the unspoilt countryside.
Limassol, geographically the largest city in Cyprus, is located on the southern coast of Cyprus and is bordered by the districts of Larnaca to the east, Pafos to the west, Nicosia to the north and Akrotiri Bay to the south. Limassol’s central position offers easy access to all main cities and Troodos Mountains. It is also conveniently only 45 minutes away from both Larnaca and Pafos airports. The map below illustrates the location and distances from Limassol and is provided compliments of the Limassol Tourism Board.