The beautiful harbour of Kyrenia

Travel Ideas: Cyprus

Few countries share the distinction of being a crossroad to three continents.  Whether that is a blessing or a curse is a vain question as  cards are played after they are dealt. For Cyprus , that distinction has provided a History of greater significance relative to its size. The small island has been coveted by great civilisations for millenniums, and even today this remains the case.

Troodos mountain range once rich in Copper (used for Bronze) and  depleted  of it since  the 80s . The word copper comes from the Greek name of the island Kupros.
Troodos mountain range once rich in Copper (used for Bronze) and depleted of it since the 80s . The word copper comes from the Greek name of the island Kupros.

Reading about the rulers of the island, one can’t help thinking  that you have a canonical list of the who’s who in the last thousands of years: Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, English, Templars, French, Venetians, Ottomans, … the British again. The long list is climaxed by Cypriot independence in 1960, only to be disturbed by the Cold War that ultimately led to the partition of the country between North(Turkish influence) and South(Greek influence).

5th century artefact in Limassol Castle... incidentally, Limassol castle is the only place outside of UK where an English Royal Wedding was held (Richard Lionheart and Berengaria of Navarre)
5th century artefact in Limassol Castle… incidentally, Limassol castle is the only place outside of UK where an English Royal Wedding was held (Richard Lionheart and Berengaria of Navarre)

 

In this partition you can hear the whisper of History, but talk to the people and you will hear a cry of hope  that one day the country will be united.

Nicosia, the last divided capital
Nicosia, the last divided capital

Walk the streets of Ayia Napa, Sun bath on its glorious beach and party all night at the Square and you’ll certainly notice that aside from Greek and Turkish(To a lesser extent), it would seem that English and Russian are de facto secondary languages of the island. The wheel of History is turning again, and the Powers that be still have a great interest on the Island.

The beautiful Nissi beach of Ayia Napa
The beautiful Nissi beach of Ayia Napa
Russians partying on the streets of Ayia Napa
Russians partying on the streets of Ayia Napa
The Square, Party Central of Cyprus,  the Mecca of UK Garage  scene in Summer
The Square, Party Central of Cyprus, the Mecca of UK Garage scene in Summer

 

For religious  historians, Cyprus is also an important Christian centre , the apostles Paul and Barnabas’ first Missionary Journey was the city of Salamis(45 A.D.) onwards to Paphos where Saul came to be known as Paul and where he converted the Roman  Pro-consul (Governor) of the island to Christianity. We could argue that “Cyprus” is the first country governed by a Christian.

Wall-Paintings of the Church of Panagia of Asinou(UNESCO  Heritage) on the foot of the Troodos Mountain range
Wall-Paintings of the Church of Panagia of Asinou(UNESCO Heritage) on the foot of the Troodos Mountain range

 

Border crossing is now easy between North(Only recognised by Turkey) and South,  make sure that you read the entry requirements carefully: www.mfa.gov.cy.

On the Northern side, it is cheaper and less developed tourism-wise and this could be a good reason to choose it rather than the South.  You can stay at Kyrenia and Famagusta, the former is the most tourist oriented city in the North and the latter is close by the border and  Salamis(Location of the ancient Greek city state).  Parts of Famagusta have been fenced off by the Turkish Army, it is a source of contention in the current peace deal negotiations. Read more about it with this article from the Guardian.

The beautiful harbour of Kyrenia
The beautiful harbour of Kyrenia
Small section of the Famagusta Ghost town
Small section of the Famagusta Ghost town

 

But maybe, you’d be more interested in staying in a tranquil village along the Troodos Mountain range. Lania which is just a 30 minutes drive from Limassol is one such village. All the houses there are built using stone and it is in the heart of  vine-growing and wine-making Cyprus, the country has 6,000 years of history of wine making! Check out this article for more about wine in Cyprus (EG Commandaria).

Lania, a charming village off the Southern slopes of Troodos Mountain range
Lania, a charming village off the Southern slopes of Troodos Mountain range

 

Another good reason to visit Cyprus is of course their cuisine! I will let  Wiki, speak for this.  But a word of warning about the Meze… make sure that you are hungry when you order it as there is simply too much food offered.

Meze the meat version (this is just half of it )
Meze the meat version (this is just half of it )
Fish Meze, very small sample version
Fish Meze, very small sample version

 

Of all Greek Gods and Goddesses,  I do not wonder why  Aphrodite , the Goddess of  love and beauty,  has come to be associated with Cyprus. It truly a unique and beautiful island. I will definitely revisit it again, 4 days is truly not enough to visit this country I would recommend at least 2 weeks to see most of its sights.