The bustling city of Nicosia (Lefkosia) has been the capital of Cyprus since the 12th century.
It stands today as Europe’s only divided city, being split in two by the ‘Green Line’, a United Nations buffer zone that divides the government-controlled south from the northern section of the island that has been occupied by Turkey since 1974.
The modern city center is surrounded by elegant tree-lined suburbs, but the favored tourist sector is the old town, which is being extensively renovated.
The old town is a picturesque fusion of 16th-century walls, pedestrian precincts, pavement cafes and squares, brimming with charm, character and sightseeing opportunities.
The city, on the Mesaoria Plain, is center of the Nicosia District that includes the valleys of Solea and Pitsilia and parts of Marathasa with its mountain villages, orchards, hill resorts and plethora of Byzantine churches and monasteries. These are within easy reach making a pleasant day trip from the city.
Cyprus Archaeological Museum
This museum was established to collect study and display archaeological artifacts from all over the island. Some of the exhibits are as old as 8,500 years.
The museum is arranged in chronological order. The first hall contains pottery and implements from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods whilst the other rooms trace the history of Cyprus through the ages from the Bronze Age, Hellenic Period, Mycenaean times, and Roman Period to the early Byzantine.
A unique feature of the museum lies in the basement, where several graves rest in a dark cellar complete with skeletal remains and grave adornments that have been reconstructed.
The largest collection of icons on the island of Cyprus is displayed in the Byzantine Museum in the Old City of Nicosia. The icons date from the ninth through to the 18th centuries. The museum also contains an art gallery exhibiting oil paintings, maps and lithographs.
Ethnographic Museum (former Folk Art Museum)
The colorful collections in this museum represent Cypriot folk art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and include wood carvings, jewelry, woven goods, tapestries, embroidery, pottery and national costumes. The museum is housed in the Old Bishopric in a 15th-century Gothic building that used to serve as a Benedictine Monastery and then became the palace of the Archbishop.
St John’s Cathedral (Agios Ioannis)
The Orthodox Cathedral in the Old City was built in 1662 by Archbishop Nikiforos, dedicated to Saint John the Theologian. The 18th-century wall paintings show Biblical scenes and illustrate the discovery of the tomb of Saint Barnabas at Salamis. The Cathedral’s prize features, however, are the iconostasis of carved wood covered with gold leaf, and the magnificent double-headed eagles.
Old City Walls
The walls that completely encompass the Old City date from the Venetian occupation in the 16th century, and have a circumference of three miles (5km).
Eleven heart-shaped bastions are interspersed along the walls, which have only three gates, in the north, south and east. One of the gates, the Famagusta Gate, has been restored and serves as the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Center, used for exhibitions, conferences, lectures and occasional performances. The gate’s vaulted passage leads on to the moat encircling the Old City, which has been planted to create a garden.
Tamassos, 12 miles (19km) south west of Nicosia, was an ancient city kingdom renowned for its rich copper works. Recent archaeological excavations at the site have produced some exciting finds in the Royal Tombs. These were six limestone sculptures, two representing life-sized sphinxes and four lions, in a crouching position.
The sculptures are believed to date to the 6th century BC when Cyprus was under Egyptian control. Visitors to the site can also see the Agios Irakleidios Monastery near Politiko village.
Limassol, with a population of around 200,000 people, is the second largest city of Cyprus. Crime rates are very low compared to other European destinations, thing which makes it an ideal family location to live and work. Health services are also taken very seriously.
Limassol Municipality has dedicated staff that takes care of cleaning streets, buildings and public places in general.
Limassol offers a mild Mediterranean weather, enjoyable throughout the year. Like in the rest of Cyprus, Limassol offers a lot of enjoyable sunshine. Summer starts from middle of May and goes to the middle of October. This gives a lot of time to visit the beautiful Limassol beaches.
Limassol has the longest coastline of all the cities in Cyprus, offering a diverse style of public beaches; it also means easy and fast access to the sea.
The biggest part of the city’s coastline is public, controlled beaches. In front of every Hotel you will find a public beach were you can relax, get some tan (always using the appropriate suntan oil for protection of course) or swim in the clear waters of Limassol.
Places to Visit:
Limassol carries with it many years of history.
There are a large number of places to see and visit as the Limassol district is not only comprised from the town but also from a large number of villages surrounding it, going almost half the way to Paphos and half the way to Larnaca.
Some of the most well-known places to visit are:
-Wine Museum: Carrying with it more than 5,500 years of history it definitely makes it a place worth visiting.
-Amathus Ruins: Amathus is flagged as one of the ancient kingdom cities of Cyprus and its ruins date back as far as the 9th century BC. A very intriguing place to visit indeed.
-Curium Amphitheatre: situated on a mountain top over Episcopi’s main public beach area, just off the old coast road between the city of Paphos and Limassol, is the perfect place to go for open-air theatrical and musical performances of all kinds.
-Kolossi Castle: A full standing castle in Kolossi village with history as far back as King Richard the Lionhearted. Another must-see monument.
Kykkos Monastery: One of the most famous as well as the wealthiest monastery of Cyprus, founded at the end of the 11th century. Will offer you some relaxing moments away from everything else.
-The tomb of Archbishop Makarios III: One of the most important and most respectable faces in the history of Cyprus.
-The Castle of Limassol: This castle dates back as far as 1228 A.C and is another must-see.
The above are just a few of the many places to visit around Limassol. Surely, Limassol is a city that brings with it thousands of years of history and can offer its residents many thrills of excitement from visiting its many places of interest.
Sport and Leisure Activities:
Being a city next to the sea, it is naturally expected that Limassol offers a lot of sporting, water sports and leisure activities.
You can find a diversity of water sport locations available throughout many of the main beaches along Limassol’s coast line. There is also Fasouri Watermania, a very big waterpark, golf, Go Karting (like Need 4 Speed Karting in Erimi Village), Space Bowling, KCineplex, Rio and Othellos cinemas, a number of walking trails like Yermasoyia Walk, book shops, dancing schools, martial arts schools and many others.
Limassol is a city that has a sports and leisure activity for every taste.
Larnaca is geographically situated on the southern coast of Cyprus.
The city is divided into two parts namely, an older city centre and a chain of hotels and restaurants along the beach, known as the ‘Phinikoudes’.
Larnaca, also known as Larnaka is endowed with numerous attractions, waterfronts and scenic beauties. It is the third largest city on the southernmost coast of Cyprus and home to the second largest commercial port. The Larnaca International Airport is located on the fringe of the city.
Places to Visit:
Kition is an ancient city – state located on the southern coast of Cyprus. At present, it is a part of Larnaca, also known as Citium in earlier days.
In the 13th centaury, Kition was established by Greeks, but it was re-established in 800BC by Phoenicians. In 1929, the state was excavated by the Swedish Cyprus Expedition as well followed by the Cyprus department of Antiquities in 1959. It was also excavated by French team in 1976.
Larnaca Fort is located on the shore at the south end of ‘Phoinikoudes’ Chronicle, built between 1382 and 1398 during the region of James-I in order to protect town’s harbour.
It is imagined to be a shape of square tower rebuilt in 1625 during the Ottoman period.
The fort was used as a prison in the first year of British rule. Because of its historic importance, many rooms have been transformed into museum. The courtyard is used for cultural events in summer season.
Grand Mosque is a popular spiritual landmark in Larnaca.
It is set on the outskirts of the earlier Turkish and Greek quarters of Larnaca.
Since 1974, the mosque is underused, but in 16th century it was once used by small Muslim community. The top of minaret offers a wonderful glimpse of city and its stunning landscape.
The Church of Saint Lazarus is named after Lazarus of Bethany, who was raised by Jesus from the dead. It was built in 9th century to house the tomb of Lazarus.
It has an open porch with preserved traces of Greek, Latin and French inscriptions. The church was reconstructed in 17thcentury with an addition of the Bell Tower. Its design features a central nave, two aisles and three domes.
Larnaca Salt Lake: Being the second largest salt lake in Cyprus, it is a distinctive landmark located on to the west of the town of Larnaca.
It is formed by the complex network of four lakes of different sizes such as Lake Aliki, the largest amongst them followed by Lake Orphani, Lake Soros and Lake Spiro. The total surface area of the Larnaca Salt Lake is 2.2 Km² as well termed as one of the most important wetlands of Cyprus.
Stavrovouni Monastery: It is set on the peak of the mountain of Stavrovouni in Larnaca.
The name Stavrovouni is derived from two words ‘stavros’ for cross and ‘vouno’ for mountain, which means “the mountain of the Cross.”
Since the regional tradition, the monastery was founded by St. Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I, the Great. The monastery has gone through much renovation.
Choirokoitia is one of the famous historic attractions in the city situated 30 km to the south-west of Larnaca. It’s a World Heritage Site comprising well-preserved ruins and reconstructed houses built around 6800 BC. The Choirokoitia Neolithic Settlement is one of the main places located a walking distance.
Pierides Laiki Bank Museum: It is one of the most important museums in Cyprus home to preserved collection depicting Cypriot culture right through the centuries. Its archaeological collection includes the Pierides Family House dating back to 1825. The museum displays main periods of Cypriot history.