On the edge of Larnaka Bay the palm-lined seafront
of Larnaka town bustles with cafes, tavernas, shops and bars. Historic
charm is lent to the scene by its fortress castle, now used as the town's
summer cultural centre. Larnaka is an excellent base from which to get
to know the central and eastern section of Cyprus, and its proximity
to the International Airport and a number of luxury hotels that have
been developed along its beautiful sandy beaches make this a popular
holiday choice. Larnaka was originally known as Kition, or Khittim,
and legend has it that the first settlement at the spot was founded
by Noah's grandson Khittim. But the name Larnaka probably comes from
the Greek word Larnax, which means sarcophagus many of which
have been unearthed in this area.
Ayia Napa Beach
The town's heyday was as an ancient city kingdom established
by the Mycenean Greeks in the 13th century BC, when it enjoyed the dual
position of rich sea port and major centre of the copper trade. Remains
of that period excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean
walls and a complex of Mycenean temples at the ancient Kition site.
Birthplace of the stoic philosopher Zeno, Larnaka was
also the second home of St. Lazarus, who arrived there after his resurrection
and later became its first Bishop. The Church of St Lazarus standing
in the centre of the town is well worth a visit The tomb of St Lazarus,
who is still the patron saint of Larnaka, is under the sanctuary.
The town was not to regain its standing until the 17th
century, when it became the consular and commercial centre of Cyprus,
and i's port once again flourished with trade It was here that the British
landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island.
Much smaller than Nicosia or Limassol, Larnaka has
a population of 62.000 and has managed to retain a relaxed, leisurely
atmosphere. Its main shopping area is Zenon Kitieos Street, a typically
busy road of small shops, with a wonderfully colourful fruit and vegetable
market at the far end.
Larnaka is known for its annual celebration of the
Feast of Kataklysmos Greek Orthodox Whitsun - which is an important
holiday The occasion is marked by enthusiastic water sports, feasting,
singing and dancing.
PLACES OF INTEREST
1. LARNACA DISTRICT ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Kalogera Square Tel:(04)630169
Interesting collection of finds from the L.arnaca area,
dating from the Neolithic Age to the Roman period.
2. PIERIDES MUSEUM
Remarkable private collection of Cypriot antiquities,
originally gathered together by Demetrios Pierides (1811-I895), and
further enriched by members of the family.
3. LARNACA FORT
Larnaca seafront. Built in 1625, it was used as a
prison in the first years of British rule. It now houses a small archaeological
museum, with finds from Kition and the Hala Sultan Tekke excavations.
The Fort is also used as the Larnaca Municipal Cultural Centre.
4. AYIOS LAZAROS CHURCH
Ayios Lazaros Square
The magnificent church was built by Emperor Leo Vl,
in the 9th century. Restoration was carried out in the 17th century,
keeping faithfully to the original plan, and the church can be called
one of the tinest examples of Byzantine architecture. The tomb of Lazaros,
who after he was raised from the dead in Bethany by Christ, came to
Cyprus and lived here for another thirty years and was consecrated as
the Bishop of Kition by St. Barnabas and St. Mark, can be seen under
the sanctuary. The iconostasi which separates the altar from the main
church, is an excellent example of baroque wood carving. Near the church
are some tombstones of Europeans who lived in Larnaca, in the 17th-18th
century. Eight days before Easter, the icon of Saint Lazaros is taken
in procession through the streets of Larnaca .
Approx. 500 m. north-east of the archaelogical Museum.
One ot the most important ancient city? Kingdoms, with architectural
remains dating back to the 13th century BC. In about 1200 BC, the area
was rebuilt by the Mycenaeans (Achaean Greeks), and one can see the
remains of cyclopean walls made of giant blocks of stone, and a complex
of five temples.
6. PALM TREES (PHINIKOUDES)
The palm-lined safront of Larnaca town bustles with
cafes, tavernas, shops and bars.
7. LARNACA MARINA
The Larnaca marina with 450 yacht capacity attracts
many boats as a safe wintering place
The 18th century aqueduct.
1. HALA SULTAN TEKKE
3 km west of Larnaea on the road to Kiti, passing
the Larnaea Airport.
Built in 1816 over the tomb of I mm Haram, who died
on this spot in 649 during the first Arab raids. According to Iegend
l mm Haram was a relative of the Prophet Mohammed and the Tekke is an
important place of Moslem pilgrimage ranking immediately after the shrines
of Meeca, Medina and al Aksha in Jerusalem.
2. ANGELOKTISTI CHURCH
Kiti village, 11 km west of l,arnaca.
Angeloktisti means 'Built by the Angel'. This 11th
century Byzantine church was built on a destroyed early Christian basilica,
the apse of which survives together with one of the finest pieces of
Byzantine art, a 6th century mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Child between
two archangels, which rivals the Ravenna Mosaic.
3. CHAPELLE ROYAL
Pyrga village, 35 km south of Nicosia, 32 km from
Built by the Lusignan King Jenus in 1421, it contains
a wall painting of the king with his wife, Charlotte de Bourbon, on
one of its walls. Considered to be one of the most interesting structures
surviving from the Frankish Period, it was restored in 1977.
4. STAVROVOUNl MONASTERY
9 km off the Nicosia-Limassol road, 40 km from Larnaca.
Perched on a rocky peak, 750 meters above sea level,
Stavrovouni means the Mountain of the Cross, and according to tradition
was founded by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who left
a fragment of the Holy Cross to the monastery. The brotherhood is extremely
devout, keeping vows as strict as those of the Mount Athos, brotherhood
in Greece. Women are not allowed in the monastery. Men may visit the
monastery daily, from sunset, except from 12.00-13.00 (15.00 hrs in
summer). Visits are not allowed on Green Monday and the following day.
There is an impressive ceremony and celebration on
14 September, the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Monastery
of Ayia Varvara (Saint Barbara) at the foot of Stavrovouni hill, is
easily accessible. The monks here, as in Stavrovouni have a high reputation
for icon painting.
48 km south of Nicosia, off the Nicosia-Limassol
road and 32 km from Larnaca.
Neolithic settlement dated to 6800 BC. Excavations
have brought to light one of the earliest neolithic cultures in the
world. Finds from Khirokitia are displayed at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.
8 km from Skarinou, off the Nicosia-Limassol road,
40 km from Larnaca.
A picturesque village, partly restored and protected,
famous for its local lace known as 'Lefkaritika' and for its silver-ware.
According to tradition, Leonardo Da Vinci visited the village and bought
an altar cloth, which he donated to the Milan cathedral. 'Lefkaritika'
is easily available from shop in all towns, which are ordered from the
lacemakers in the village direct at very competitive prices. The House
of Patsalos which is being restored, houses the Lace and Silver-ware
Museum of Lefkara.
The church of the Archanel Michael in Kato Lefkara
is of the single-aisled domed type and has wall paintings of the late
12th century. At Pano Lefkara, there is the church of the Holy Cross
with a beautiful 18th century iconostasi and a unique 13th century silver
cross. A religious fair takes place on the 13th-14th September, day
of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
7. AYIOS MINAS CONVENT
15th century convent with a church at the centre of
the cloisters. The nuns, besides performing their religious rites. arc
famous for their icon painting and honey production.
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