Introduction to Cyprus

Cyprus, the Island for all seasons

Cyprus September 2006 050 resizedCyprus, part of the Commonwealth and the European Union, is a much loved island for Brits, not only for the character of its people and fascinating scenery, but also for the hospitality shown to them. There are British marks all over the island, so much so, that ex-pats normally feel at home almost immediately.

Driving on the left, road signs in English and Greek, similar legal systems and widely spoken English.   As the Overseas Market grows, Cyprus is near the top of the list for investment, holiday and retirement purchases.

In the far eastern corner of the Mediterranean, Cyprus is at the cross roads of Europe, Africa and Asia. The third largest island in the Mediterranean, it covers an area of 9,250 km2 and measures 240 kms east to west and 96 kms from north to south.

The birth of the island was the result of a series of unique and complicated geological events. Due to this, Cyprus has become an international geological showcase, comprising the central Messaoria plain with the Kyrenia and Troodos mountain ranges to north and south. Thanks to its unique terrain, it is possible in winter to go skiing in the Troodos and beach bathing on the same day.

According to legend, many of the ancient cities of Cyprus were founded by the heroes of the Trojan War. Assyrians, Phoenicians, Egyptians and Persians at some point have passed through the island. Cyprus was part of the Roman Empire for four centuries and you can see the evidence in some of the temples, palaces, amphitheatres and baths that excavations have uncovered. Just as magnificent are the early Christian Basilicas, Byzantine churches that house beautiful mosaics and icons as well as Nicosia’s Venetian walls.

A trip to the Troodos mountains provides a refreshing change from the heat of the beaches, with delightfully fresh air, cool nights scented with the aroma of pine trees and wild herbs. The fruit blossom in the fertile valleys has to be seen to be believed, cherry, apply, pear, plum, almond.  

The mountains are dotted with picturesque little villages where true Cypriot hospitality abounds, where the donkey is a cherished beast of burden and where the lovely village wine can be sampled.

Apart from sightseeing, most visitors want to enjoy the sea and the beaches; every facility for water sports of all kinds is available; skiing, diving, sailing, wind-surfing etc. But if it is just swimming and sunbathing, the island’s coast is indented with numerous secluded coves where you can have a ‘beach to yourself’.

In the evenings what better than to start by sampling the delights of a Cypriot restaurant?   There are so many dishes to try: meze, Cyprus’ magnificent glorified hors d’oeurves, more than a meal in itself; koupepia, afelia, kebabs, moussaka, and many more; and delicious wines to accompany them! There are restaurants to suite every taste; with international cuisine, Chinese and Indian restaurants offering authentic dishes prepared by their own chefs, to the humble snack bar providing hamburgers and hot dogs.

Pafos and District

Pafos, Capital of Cyprus in Roman times, port for pilgrims visiting the Shrine of Aphrodite and an important tourist centre .

SV_056 resizedThe Harbour, built in the time of Alexander the Great; St. Paul’s Pillar to which St Paul was tied and scourged; Petra tou Romiou, where Aphrodite emerged from the waves; Kouklia (old Pafos) and the Temple of Aphrodite.   The forest, home of the Moufflon, neighbouring banana plantations and vineyards.   Pafos Fort, located on Pafos’ picturesque harbour, was originally built by the Ottomans in 1592 on the site of a medieval castle.  

Pafos Mosaics, included in the UNESCO list of World Monuments, date from the 3rd to the 5th century AD.   The remains of villas have impressive mosaic floors and are named after the figures shown in them, the mosaics portray images from Greek Mythology.  

Pafos Odeon; Forty Columns, was built in the 13th century to protect the harbour.   Tombs of the Kings, an impressive site built between the 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD. contains over 100 tombs.  

Latsi (Latchi) is a pretty fishing village on the north west coast, an easy drive from Pafos. Before tourism reached Latsi its main industry was the exportation of sea sponges. The main focal point is the fishing harbour with its boats bobbing gently on the clear water, weighed down by the day’s catch. Fresh fish can be sampled in one of the many stone built tavernas that surround the harbour, they are very popular with the locals too!

Sun worshipers will appreciate the beaches nestling on the Akamas National park with its cool waters and gentle breezes. At night Latsi is a hive of activity with night cruises, local discos and a selection of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Polis is a country village deriving its name from the Greek word for city and is the shortened version of Polis Chrysohou which translates to ‘the City of the Golden Land’ after the fertile land surrounding the river Chrysochou. There are no large hotels so you can step into a world away from mass tourism and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small but attractive village.

Famagusta and District

IMG_1197 resizedThis area includes some of the loveliest, silvery, sandy beaches on the island and crystal clear waters. Cape Greco one of the national parks, is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty.   There are numerous nature trails that can be followed leading to magnificent cliff edges with amazing views over the Mediterranean. Other bays of note include; Konnos Bay, Fig Tree Bay and Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa. This has been transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a lively resort that has something for all ages and, contrary to popular belief, this cosmopolitan town isn’t all about bars for the young!   Ayia Napa is full of history and tradition; the centre of the town is built around a medieval Monastery that has been well preserved over the centuries and a visit here is like stepping back in time. The fishing harbour is beautiful; it has been pedestrianised and features cafes and fish tavernas. Beautifully illuminated at night, the area is a perfect setting for a romantic meal or a stroll.

The church of   Ayia Thekla is one of the oldest spots in the area. A small sandy beach also lies here with a tiny island   off shore that keeps the waves away. This rare combination of history and natural beauty is considered by many to be an ideal place to live.

There are many lovely villages, of varying sizes, in the area and each has its own distinctive character and local amenities such as; Derinia, Sotira, Frenaros, Liopetri, Xylofago and of course the lovely family resort of Protoras to name just a few.