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  • The Glamorous Island of Cyprus

    Lyso Evgeniy Isaev/flickr

    Sunset at Lysos ©Evgeniy Isaev/flickr

    Cyprus is an Island country known for its beautiful beaches and vast history. It is located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt and east of Greece.

    The country owns the whole island and its surrounding waters by law. However, in reality the country is divided in two main parts, Northern Cyprus which is recognized only by Turkey. Nevertheless, the state is rich both economically and naturally with high human development.

    The country is divided in two ethnic groups, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Because the country has many resorts, Cyprus is a very enjoyable Mediterranean country has got amazing nightlife with great infrastructure. The island nation was also a former British colony and still is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

    Vast History of Cyprus

    Cyprus has remarkable and ancient history, being one of Europe’s oldest countries. The first settlers of this country were Greeks who settled there in the 2nd millennium BC. Like Malta, the island of Cyprus was also an important strategic point and empires like Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians seized the Island for shrewd reasons.

    Alexander the Great, Ptolemaic Egyptians and both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire also ruled the Island and later it was conquered by the Venetians.

    No doubt that these kingdoms left a huge influence on Cyprus even nowadays. Many ruins and buildings from each periods are common, especially those from the Greek period.

    Ottoman Cyprus

    After many centuries of rule by different empires, the Ottomans gained Cyprus from the former Venetian leaders and ruled the island for the next three hundred years. It changed radically Cyprus both politically and culturally, and the Turkish population started growing rapidly in the next period.

    The Ottomans allowed and even promoted the Greeks to govern and practice their own non-Muslim minority religion and traditions, albeit with heavy taxation. Because of the issues with the taxation and later other laws, many Greek Cypriots converted to Islam to avoid them, although they still practiced Christianity in secret.

    Soon many of them emigrated from the Island because of the natural disasters that the island faced like plagues and earthquakes. Others were displeased with the Ottoman rule and turned to other powerful nations seeking for help. Soon the Greek Independence movement begun and while the war was successful for Greece, Cyprus was still part of the Ottoman empire. This made the Cypriots forming a lifelong interest to unite with Greece.

    Cyprus as a British Colony

    The British already expressed serious interest on the island in 1869 when the Suez Canal was opened and also because of its great and advantageous location. It was the year of 1878  when Cyprus became a protectorate of Great Britain but only in 1914 did Cyprus become part of the British Empire. The entire island was in British hands from 1878 until its independence in 1960.

    The British legacy on the island can still be seen on its policy, left hand traffic, very good knowledge of English and many other factors.

    Places to see in Cyprus

    Paphos is a beautiful and well preserved coastal town known for its history and buildings. The town is also the hottest city on the island, known for having exceptional subtropical-Mediterranean climate all year round. UNESCO also recognized it as a heritage site because of its background and excellent architecture. Due to being a coastal town it is also a good place for recreation filled with fine beaches, bars, clubs and restaurants.

    The venerable fortress of Paphos shines bright Tan Yilmaz/flickr

    The venerable fortress of Paphos shines bright ©Tan Yilmaz/flickr

    Painted Churches in the Trodos Region are known to have rich and exemplary murals and paintings. It is distinguished as being one of the largest and most complex monasteries and churches of the former Byzantine empire. The region has 10 monuments which are also included into UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    The following are the churches:

    • Ayios Nikolaos tis Steyis (Saint Nicholas of the Roof) in Kakopetria
    • Ayios Ionannis Lampadistis (Saint John Lampadistis) in  Kalopanayiotis
    • Panagia (Church of Our Lady) Phorbiotissa (or Asinou) in Nikitari
    • Panagia tou Arakou in Lagoudhera
    • Panagia tou Moutoulla in Moutoullas
    • Church of the Archangel Michael in Pedhoulas
    • Timios Stavros (Church of the Holy Cross) in Pelendri
    • Panagia Podhithou (Church of the Virgin Podithou) in Galata
    • Stavros Ayiasmati (Church of the Holy Cross of Ayiasmati) in Platanistasa
    • Metamorfosis tou Sotiros (Transfiguration of the Saviour) in Palaichori
    One of the churches of the Region Thomas Sagory/flickr

    One of the churches of the Region ©Thomas Sagory/flickr

    Choirokoitia, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokotia was occupied between the 7th and 4th millennium BC. It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Its remains and the finds from the excavations there have thrown much light on the evolution of human society in this region. Since only part of the site has been uncovered, it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.

    Choirokoitia lies between Larnaca and Limassol, each of them being half an hour drive from the fascinating Neolithic site.

    The ancient Choirokoitia  jurgen.proschinger/flickr

    The ancient Choirokoitia ©jurgen.proschinger/flickr

    Limassol is the second biggest city of Cyprus and also is one of the busiest ports of the Mediterranean. It is very prosperous both economically and culturally. It mainly depends on tourism which is very important to the city. It is noteworthy also for its beaches and nightlife, having many great clubs and bars where people can relax and have fun.

    Things to see in Limassol:

    – Kolossi Castle

    – Limassol Castle

    – Cyprus Wine Museum

    Beautiful Limassol Paolo Antypas/flickr

    Beautiful Limassol ©Paolo Antypas/flickr

    Nicosia, the capital of the country is surely a great experience. Although it is divided in two parts by Northern Cyprus who are Turks and the rest of Cyprus who are Greeks, Nicosia nevertheless is very pleasant, safe and enjoyable. It is one of the most affluent capitals in the world. From ancient to modern structures, the capital has it all. It has so many bars and clubs that you are barely able to choose one.

    The Northern part of Nicosia Peter/flickr

    The Northern part of Nicosia ©Peter/flickr

    Despite not being a coastal town, the sea is still quite close to Nicosia thanks to the size of the island and also the excellent infrastructure of the country. Even if it does not have sea, it can be still fun and enjoyed by everyone.

    Things to see in Nicosia:

    – Selimiye Mosque

    – Notre Dame de Tyre

    – Cyprus Museum

    – Arab Ahmet Mosque

    – Famagusta Gate

    – Kykkos Monastery

     

     

     

     

     

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