Destinations & Articles
Island Coveted by the World!
Published in the Spring 2006
Issue of Canadian World Traveller
Text & Photos: By
Lise Giguère (email@example.com)
days of antiquity, the story of Cyprus has been a very
eventful one. Even though its many invaders left their mark to
the point where today the entire country it is a veritable
open-air museum, they could not alter the essential charm of
this beautiful isle.
the third larger island of the Mediterranean. It lies at the
crossroads of the East and the West, the North and the South.
Its ideal climate (360 days of sunshine a year), its rich and
fertile ground and its legendary copper deposits, made it an
extremely coveted island in all of recorded history.
the Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans, Lusignans, Venetians,
Ottomans and British all ruled over Cyprus. Each of them left
their imprint behind: the British rule of driving on the left;
Romans temples; Venetian walls; Neolithic encampments; Medieval
castles; and the many other remnants of empires past. Every
day, archaeologists unearth the long-lost secrets of this
fabled land, many possibly dating back as far as 10,000 B.C.
All of its
invaders contributed to the drastic changes in the
architectural and cultural landscape of Cyprus, but none could
have imagined that one day the island would be divided into
two by a “green line” (the Attila line), a demilitarized
zone 180 km long.
forgets the day in July 1974 when Turkey invaded their island.
Some 200,000 of them were driven from their homes and stripped
of their goods when these modern-day invaders took
possession of 37% of the territory located at the northern end
of the island. In that coup d'état, nearly 6,000 people were
found dead and the traces and ultimate fate of the 1,619 who
disappeared, including 50 children, are still being actively sought.
“I was 5
years old,” our guide Christine remembers. “I will never
be able to forget the thousands of parachutists that I saw
falling from the sky. Nothing I have ever experienced since
that day can ever compare to that.”
Cyprus is a dive into ancient history, but it’s also a stark
realization of the insanity and corrupting nature of power.
During a long or short stay on Cyprus, you will undoubtedly
find yourself enthralled by its fascinating history and
& Modern History
the center of the island, the old city of Nicosia is separated
by the “green line.” This makes it the latest
“sacrificed capital”, according to a sign posted near the
border delineating the Greek and the Turkish parts of Cyprus.
understand the pain, anger and the sadness of Cypriots, two
stops are essential for any visitor. The first is
the Ledra Museum Observatory in
Nicosia located atop the Shiakola Tower on its 11th
floor, where telescopes and explanatory plaques (in several
languages) make it possible “to see” the division of the
island. The second is the extraordinary Museum of Cyprus,
which displays the most important collection of antiquities
and treasures from the Neolithic era and those of the period
of Roman occupation.
many museums, its Artisan Centre (founded in part to assist
the refugees from the north, who found themselves without
homes and employment in 1974), its Cathedral with its superb
frescos, its Famagusta Gate (one of the original entryways to
the ancient city), its pedestrians-only zone, its many quaint
historic churches, and its small shops where craftsmen have
practiced their trade for centuries, Nicosia offers the
visitor a memorable lesson in culture and history.
traveling to the southern end of the island, you pass through
the coastal cosmopolitan city of Lemesos, a popular stop for
Mediterranean cruise ships. Lemesos is a resort town boasting
some 16 km of virgin coastline. It’s also the center of the
Cyprus’ wine industry and the host of two important annual
celebrations that are close to the heart of Cypriots -- the
Carnival in February and the Wine Festival held in September.
Lemesos, you will also revisit the medieval world by way of
the Lemesos Castle (Limassol), where Richard the Lionhearted
married Bérangère de Navarre to make her Queen of England,
and Kolossi Castle, where the Knights Templars established
their headquarters and manufactured the amber-colored dessert wine Commandaria,
which is still produced today, according to its original
western coast of the island, in the town of Pafos, you’ll
find the house of Dionysos (the God of Wine) with its
intriguing mosaics that were preserved buried under the ground
for over sixteen centuries. Here, you can also visit ruins of
the Sanctuary of Apollo, as well as the sites devoted to the
Goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite.
to legend, it was indeed on the coast of Pafos that Aphrodite
first appeared in the small cove next to the large rock called
Petra Tou Romiou. As the presumed place of her birth, today it
is a much-visited spot. Equally popular are the Lovers’
Fountain, where she bathed, and the Bath of Aphrodite, where
it is said she seduced Adonis. Just like the vestiges of her
old haunts, the love goddess seems to have left lasting traces
of her every move on her Cyprus birthplace.
coastline that surrounds Pafos is protected by the Troodhos,
an impressive mountain range whose crowning glory is the
1,951-metre Olympe Mount. It’s covered with snow in winter,
but its many footpaths allow year-round panoramic view of its
waterfalls and forests of cedars and pines, oaks and
cypresses. In its foothills lies fertile land covered with
vineyards, carob trees and olive groves.
following the seaside road, you’ll find many small villages,
where the inhabitants grow grain and citrus fruits (lemons,
oranges and grapefruits). This region is also known for its
picturesque verdant valleys.
the direction of the Akamas Peninsula in the Northwest, the
landscape changes again. Here you find virgin and uninhabited
territory, with immense rock formations, which in certain
places rise to 100 metres, and completely secluded beaches.
of these beaches, Lara Beach, has been environmentally protected
since 1978. It is an incubation center for the reproduction of
two species of particularly vulnerable sea turtles, the green
turtle and the loggerhead
distance to cross this small but extremely interesting island
is fortunately rather short, and so is the trip to get there.
This is why, a mini-cruise to Cyprus is such a beautiful
add-on to a holiday in Greece (two days sailing), Egypt (13
hours) or Lebanon (10 hours).
Facts About Cyprus
year, Cyprus welcomes more than 2,5 million tourists,
predominantly from the UK.
is the main industry of the island, then agriculture,
mainly potatoes, lemons and oranges, but also wine.
time to visit Cyprus: May, June, September and October. In
January and February, the temperature varies between 15C
and 17C and there may be a few days of rain. March and
April is the time when the wind carries the dust from the
deserts of Libya and Egypt, which seems like mist, but
leaves a sandy taste in the mouth. July and August are a
very hot 39C.
need to count 11 hours of flight from Montreal. As well,
there are waiting times in airports. Cyprus Airways (wwwcyprusairways.com)
offers daily air flights to Larnaka, Cyprus from the
majority of the large Canadian cities, via London,
Amsterdam or Athens, as well as frequent connecting
flights from Brussels, Frankfurt and Paris.
1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and 37% of Cypriots found
themselves under Turkish domination. At the time of this
event, 200,000 Cypriot Greeks were relocated (a third of
the population). Several monuments and antiquities of
Cypriot cultural heritage were either demolished or
official languages are the Greek and Turkish. However,
English is spoken almost everywhere on the island and one
easily finds people who can express themselves in French.
excursion to the northern part of Cyprus (under Turkish
administration) is no problem. However, visits for
tourists are only
authorized between 8 am and midnight.
essential to read up on Cyprus before going there. To this
end, you will find reliable and enlightening travel
guides on Cyprus in most bookstores.
Lemons, a novel about life on Cyprus written by British author
and poet Lawrence Durrell in 1957, would also inspire you to
venture onto this enchanting island.
was made possible thanks to the collaboration of Cyprus
Tourism Organization (www.visitcyprus.org.cy)
Cyprus Tourism Organization
13 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Official Website: www.cyprustourism.org
Cyprus Tourism Organisation (UK)
17 Hanover Street
London, United Kingdom
Tel.: 020 7569 8800
High Commission for Cyprus
2211 R Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel.: 202-462-5772 Fax: 202-483-6710
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Official Website: http://kypros.org/Embassy
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