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Cyprus

Main attractions

Troodos mountains, Cyprus
Troodos mountains / Melissa Wall, , CC BY 2.0

Since the prehistoric times Cyprus has been at the crossroads of cultures, between the ancient civilizations of Near East and later civilizations in Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.

Thus it is no wonder that this charming island is very rich with man made heritage. Most interesting landmarks here are the remnants of prehistoric settlements - true eyewitnesses of the dawn of humankind, but not less interesting are the ruins of ancient cities. Very rich is the cultural heritage of Orthodox Christianity which is best expressed through the colourful frescoes in numerous medieval churches.

Natural landmarks

Waterfalls

  • Kalidonia Falls - Limassol. Approximately 12 m tall waterfall.
  • Millomeris Falls - Limassol. More than 15 m tall waterfall in forested ravine.

Trees

  • Cathedral Fig Tree, Famagusta - Famagusta. Enormous fig tree (Ficus sycomous), planted at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta in 1220 AD.
  • Xyliatos Olive Tree - Nicosia. Giant olive tree which has a circumference of 13 m. Tree is just 6 m tall.

Other natural landmarks

  • Ayia Napa sea monster - Famagusta. Legendary sea monster which, reportedly, is occasionally seen near the coast, most frequently at Cape Greco.
  • Mathiatis South Quarry - Nicosia. Ancient quarry in unique geological landmark - Troodos ophiolite. This rock is a piece of former (90 million years old) mid-oceanic ridge which is rised above the sea level. Ophiolite contains sulfide ore which most likely was created by black smokers - hot springs characteristic for mid-oceanic ridges. There are several more fine outcrops of this ophiolite, e.g. Mount Olympus. Investigations of Troodos ophiolite played great role in the understanding of sea floor spreading.
  • Capo Greco natural arches - Famagusta. There are several natural arches in this site, some can be used as natural bridges.

Man made landmarks

Fundaments of approximately 8000 years old houses in Khirokitia, Cyprus
Fundaments of approximately 8000 years old houses in Khirokitia / wiseguy71, , CC BY-SA 2.0

Prehistoric settlements

  • Aetokremnos - Limassol. Rock shelter with the oldest traces of human settlement in Cyprus which was inhabited roughly at 10 500 BC. Shelter contains charred bones of pygmy elephants (Elephas cypriotes), Cyprus dwarf hippopotamus (Hippopotamus minor). The settlement serves as a proof that humans here came when these exotic animals were not extinct yet.
  • Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) - Larnaca. Remnants of a very old settlement, a Neolithic site which was inhabited from the 7th to the 6th millenium BC and then again in the 4th millenium BC. This prehistoric settlement was a fortified village of early farmers.
  • Shillourokambos - Limassol. Neolithic settlement, inhabited in the end of the 9th - 8th millenium, with remnants of structures. Here has been found the oldest (9,500 years ago) evidence of human domestication of cats.

Ancient towns and cities

Ruins of Salamis, Cyprus
Ruins of Salamis / Anja Leidel, , CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Amathus - Limassol. Ruins of ancient town, former capital. Inhabited since 1100 BC at least and flourished until the 7th century AD. Amathus served as an important centre for the cult of Aphrodite. Remnants include standing columns of market and pavements of former streets.
  • Kition - Larnaca. Remnants of ancient city which was established in the 13th century BC. Site contains remains of massive cyclopean wall which was built by Greek colonists in the 12th century BC when in Kition were located very important temples.
  • Kourion - Limassol. Ruins of ancient Greek city. Some of the most interesting landmarks are a theatre suitable for 2,000 spectators, fine mosaics and early Christian basilica.
  • Paphos (Paleapaphos) - Paphos. Ancient capital of Cyprus, centre of the cult of Aphrodite since pre-Hellenistic times (the early 3rd millenium BC), a settlement since the Neolithic times. Site contains ruins of many wonderful buildings and some of the best ancient mosaics in the world, it was much glorified in the works of ancient poets. Ruins of the famous Odeon theatre are here.
  • Salamis - Famagusta. Ruins of ancient Greek city. Oldest signs of habitation are from the Late Bronze Age (the 11th century BC). Most of currently visible ruins were built during the Roman period, the most impressive are ruins of theatre and gymnasium. Archaeologically very interesting is the necropolis with royal tombs which have provided rich finds. Salamis looks especially beautiful in March, when the surrounding meadows are covered with flowers.
  • Tamassos - Nicosia. Ruins of ancient Greek city which is buried under the contemporary village of Politiko. City developed in the Bronze Age as a mining town for nearby copper mines and was inhabited for millenia until the abandonment around the 10th century AD.
Temple of Hylates in Kourion, Cyprus
Temple of Hylates in Kourion / George M. Groutas, , CC BY 2.0

Ancient shrines

  • Temple of Aphrodite in Paphos - Paphos. Once upon a time this was one of the most sacred places in the eastern Mediterranean. A temple to Aphrodite was built here around the 12th century BC, now it is in ruins.
  • Temple of Hylates in Kourion - Limassol. One of the most important ancient temples in Cyprus. Worship started here in the 8th century BC and continued until the 4th century AD. Initially local god Hylates was worshipped, later here was worshipped Greek god Apollo.

Other archaeological landmarks

  • Catacomb of Phaneromeni Church - Larnaca. Catacomb from the 8th century which was used as a church. It is possible that it is much older pagan tomb, possibly from the times of Phoenicians. Site of legends, a place with special healing powers.
  • Kissonerga Wells - Paphos. Some of the oldest wells in the world, made some 10,000 years ago. Wells are some 5 m deep.
  • Tombs of the Kings near Paphos - Paphos. Large group of rock-cut tombs, made in the 4th century BC - 3rd century AD. Some tombs are adorned with frescoes.

Medieval churches with frescoes

Fresco in Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis Church, Cyprus
Fresco - birth of Jesus. Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis Church / From "The Painted Churches of Cyprus", Andreas Stylianou und Judith A. Stylienou, , public domain
  • Agios Ioannis Lampadistis Church - Nicosia. Group of monastery buildings - three churches (the 11th, 12th and late 15th century) under one roof. The oldest - Agios Herakleidios church - is adorned with frescoes which were painted in the 13th and the 16th centuries.
  • Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis Church - Nicosia. Well preserved monastery church, built in the 11th century. Church contains diverse Byzantine frescoes wich were made from the 11th to 17th century.
  • Agios Sozomenos Church - Nicosia. Church with valuable frescoes which were made in 1513.
  • Agios Mamas Church of Saint Paraskevi - Limassol. Small church with beautiful Byzantine frescoes. Church was built in 1455, paintings made in 1495.
  • Antiphonitis Church - Kyrenia. Interesting medieval church, with a dome resting on eight pillars. Interior of the church is adorned with frescoes, the oldest were made in the 12th century.
  • Asinou Church (Panagia Phorbiotissa) - Nicosia. Church with some of the best Byzantine frescoes which were painted in the 12th century and later.
  • Metamorfosis tou Sotiros Church - Nicosia. This chapel was built in the early 16th century and its interior is covered with some of the best post-Byzantine frescoes.
  • Panagia Chrysokourdaliotissa Church in Kourdali - Nicosia. Small village church with valuable Byzantine paintings and finely carved wooden iconostasis which were made in the 16th century.
  • Panagia tis Podithou in Galata Church - Nicosia. Church of monastery, constructed in 1502. Contains valuable frescoes, which were created at the time of construction.
  • Panagia tou Arakou Lagoudhera Church - Nicosia. Monastery church, built in the late 12th century. Interior is covered with frescoes of exceptional quality, most likely made in the late 12th century.
  • Panagia tou Moutoulla Church - Nicosia. A chapel which was built around 1280 and has fine frescoes from this time.
  • Pedoulas St. Michael Church - Nicosia. Small church which was built in 1474 and at this time was decorated with frescoes.
  • Stavros Ayiasmati Church in Platanistasa - Nicosia. Monastery church, which was built at the end of the 15th century. Whole interior is covered with valuable frescoes in interesting style.
  • Timios Stavros Church - Limassol. Small church which was built in the middle of the 12th century and rebuilt a century later. Interior of the church is adorned with frescoes which were created in several periods.

Other medieval churches

Tomb of Lazarus in Saint Lazarus Church, Cyprus
Tomb of Lazarus - the man who was resurrected by Christ / Martin Belam, , CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Agios Paraskevi Church in Yeroskipou - Paphos. Old church with five domes which are arranged in a shape of cross. Church was constructed roughly in 1100 AD.
  • Saint Barnabas and Hilarion Church in Peristerona - Nicosia. Old, unusual church with five domes arranged in a shape of cross, built in the 10th century.
  • Saint Lazarus Church in Larnaca - Larnaca. Very old church, built in the 9th century AD and rebuilt in later times. According to legends here is buried Lazarus - man resurrected by Jesus.

Castles

  • Kolossi Castle - Limassol. Once important castle of crusaders, built in 1210 and rebuilt in 1454.
  • Kyrenia Castle - Kyrenia. Massive Venetian castle, built in the 16th century over the ruins of older crusader castle. Castle musem contains remains of one of the oldest recovered ships - a Greek merchant ship from the 4th century BC.
  • Paphos Castle - Paphos. Massive castle in water, originaly built in the times of Byzantium. Current structure was built by Ottomans.
Living room in Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion, Cyprus
Living room in Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion / AncientNicosia, , CC BY-SA 3.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Apostolos Andreas Monastery - Famagusta. Large medieval monastery, a holy place for local Christians. A fortified monastery building was reported already in the 12th century but present buildings were built in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Büyük Han - Nicosia. The most beautiful caravanserai in Cyprus. This complex of buildings was constructed in 1572 by Ottomans.
  • Fikardou - Nicosia. Ancient village in mountains. Present buildings are mostly from the 18th - 19th century.
  • Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion - Nicosia. Well preserved city house of rich Greek family, built in 1793.

List of described attractions by districts

Cyprus (irrespective of its present split into Northen and Southern Cyprus as well as Akrotiri and Dhekelia) is divided into 6 districts. Here below they are listed in alphabetical order:

Famagusta
Kyrenia
ArrowAntiphonitis churchChurches
Larnaca
Limassol
Nicosia
Paphos

Map of Cyprus

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