very name Cyprus, it has been said, shimmers with an ages-old mystique.
Today, history and hedonism are comfortably intertwined on the island.
Ravishing five-star resorts within walking distance of well-preserved
Greek and Roman ruins offer every amenity the modern traveller has
come to expect and more, from knock-out pools, gardens and beachfronts
to state of the art thalassotherapy health spas. One of the most
impressive archaeological sites, the ancient city kingdom of Kourion,
overlooks a magnificent stretch of beaches with a sparkling blue
sea beyond. Along the island's sun-kissed coastline from Agia Napa
in the east to Pafos in the west, world-class beach resorts alternate
with settings untouched since antiquity.
away from the sybaritic shore - if you can bring yourself to - and
succumb to the slow, seductive rhythms of the interior. There are
old wine-producing villages with atmospheric winding streets and
terraced vineyards. You can often stay the night for a song in cosy
renovated traditional houses, part of the Cyprus agro tourism programme.
Explore Greek Orthodox churches nestled in the hills whose walls
conceal vibrantly painted Byzantine frescoes. Many are found among
the pine-covered peaks of the Troodos, where a sublime silence can
dissolve all sense of time, not to mention stress.
Goddesses and Sacred Mountains
the route that leads from the port city of Lemesos (Limassol) to
Pafos, the roadway opens up to reveal a magnificent stretch of coastline
where chalky white cliffs stand watch over a dazzling aquamarine
sea. Here sun worshippers make detours for a picnic and a swim at
Petra tou Romiou, a boulder that marks the spot where Aphrodite
emerged from the sea foam in ancient times. In the Akamas region,
hikers exploring the area's rich flora can cool off at the grotto
where the love goddess bathed after her amorous interludes.
Throughout Cyprus, the typically Mediterranean landscape is still
blessed with the timeless beauty of antiquity. There are crusader
fortresses framed by tall cypress trees, Greco-Roman theatres carved
out of cliffs and Byzantine monasteries perched improbably on mountaintops.
Sophisticated cities successfully balance the ancient and modern.
The capital, Lefkosia (Nicosia), is surrounded by Venetian walls
with heart-shaped bastions; Larnaka, site of the major international
airport, is also home to St. Lazarus Church and the crypt of the
eponymous saint resurrected by Christ. Near the animated harbor
at Pafos are the Roman floor mosaics of the Houses of Aion, Achilles
and Dionysus, their depictions of mythological scenes amazingly
Eyes on Cyprus
Cyprus mystique is as much a product of its legendary beauty as
it is of millennia of competing empires, all unable to resist the
island's strategic allure of the island. The perfect location, of
course, never goes out of style. Nestled into the eastern Mediterranean
Sea and a veritable crossroads of three continents, Cyprus is the
third largest island in the Mediterranean and an ideal starting
point for the discovery of other exotic locales such as the Greek
Islands, Egypt and the Middle East - in fact, mini-cruises set off
for these places from Cyprus almost every day. But close as Cyprus
may be to the world's center stage, it is a distinctive place that
can feel blissfully apart from it all.
Abundant copper in antiquity put small Cyprus on the map. In fact
Cyprus (Kypros in Greek) gave copper its latin name: cuprum. In
the late Bronze Age, Mycenaen Greeks settled on Cyprus and established
trade links with Egypt and the Aegean islands. This is also the
period when ceramic art first flourished. As centuries drifted by,
the island came variously under Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and
Roman rule. It was during the latter era that Marc Antony, enraptured
by the island's sweet wines, gave Cyprus as a gift to his lover,
the matchless Cleopatra. After a long period of Byzantine domination,
European awareness of Cyprus surged with the Crusades. In 1191 a
fierce sea storm led Richard the Lionheart to put his ship into
port at Lemesos. He claimed the island as his own.
From 1489 to 1571 the flag of Venice flew in Cyprus, until which
time the Ottoman Turks moved in. That era ended in 1878 when Cyprus
became part of the British Empire. Despite a turbulent past, or
perhaps because of it, the Cypriots themselves are a resilient people.
They have always remained a distinct culture - different even from
their closest cousins, the Greeks - and retained their unique character.
The Republic of Cyprus achieved independence in 1960 and is now
in line to join the European Union.
From independent travellers to honeymooners, archaeology aficionados
to friends of nature, every visitor to Cyprus finds the island offers
layer upon layer of discovery. Food lovers delight in farm-fresh
halloumi cheese and delectable meze, the local specialty appetizers
that mix Western ingredients with Eastern zest. Travellers on business
appreciate the fine conference facilities and warm, professional
service at more than 64 hotels and resorts, and like incentive groups
value the proximity of the beach. And that golden Old World sunshine
- there are generally 300-plus sunny days per year - is something
few can resist. Add it all up and you have an ideally-situated island
that truly has no equal. A place that measures up to its mystique:
Cyprus: The Cruise Centre of the Eastern Mediterranean
the armies of Alexander the Great made their famous thrusts east
toward lands unconquered, their ships called into port at Cyprus
to be readied and refitted. The same strategic location, at the
crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa, that made
Cyprus a crucial starting point for Alexander's expanding empire
makes the island a desirable centre today for a calmer kind of maritime
activity: cruising. Whether for a cruise that originates there,
as a port of call or a fly and cruise option, today Cyprus is among
the premier cruising destinations in the Mediterranean.
As the easternmost island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a natural
point of departure for exploring this amazingly diverse region.
Throughout the year locally based cruise lines help locals and tourist
alike get a first hand perspective of the splendors of ancient Egypt,
major attractions in Israel and Lebanon and, of course, the Greek
Islands. Every year there are around 800 such "mini-cruises"
leaving from the port of Limassol (Lemesos), one of the leading
cruise ports in the Mediterranean, carrying around 250,000 passengers.
Port of History and Civilisation
international cruise ships utilize Cyprus as a major port of call
on their international European and Mediterranean itineraries. Every
year more than 30 of the finest international cruise ships make
more than 80 calls at the ports of Limassol and Larnaka carrying
in excess of 100,000 passengers to visit the major attractions of
One Island, a World of Options
experience of Cyprus can be as varied and rewarding as the geography
of the island itself. Starting with the sea: There are beaches in
Cyprus to suit just about everybody, from families with small children
to seekers of solitude. The mountainous interior, the Troodos, offers
an alluring contrast to the coast that shouldn't be overlooked.
Bracing pine-scented air, hiking trails and Byzantine churches are
just some of the treasures to be found here. It is also possible
to experience firsthand the village life of the hill towns. By the
beach or further afield, in the towns or storied countryside, the
distinctive culture of Cyprus is always close at hand.
Data taken from