Ayia (Agia) Napa
This region is the centre of the holiday industry in the southeast. Not that long ago it was a just a typical Cypriot village - now it has grown into one of the largest tourist resorts in Cyprus, with an abundance of restaurants, discos, clubs and bars. In the centre of the original village lies the monastery, by an open square. All around are crowded bars and cafes with clubs that burst to life in the evenings. The new town streets are lined with stores and gift shops. Below the town is a small harbour with seafood restaurants and fishing boats, where you can go on a fishing trip or take a short excursion of the Mediterranean. The nearby beaches are first class, and the sea here is a beautiful turquoise that washes over fine coloured sands. Towards the eastern cape (Cape Greko) the sea has sculpted some incredible cliff and cave formations that are ideal for exploring by boat.
The nearby popular Kryo Nero Beach stretches from the fishing harbour of Ayia Napa for more than 1 km along the east coast. Facilities are provided for all major water sports, with cafés, snack bars and restaurants abounding in the area. The beaches along the coast to the east (Protaras and Konnos) and to west of the harbour (Nissi and Sandy Bay) are easily accessible and also very popular.
Protaras (Fig tree bay)
Located to the east of Ayia Napa town. The beach here is excellent for swimming, as the sand shelves gently down to a clear blue sea. The waters remain generally calm in this area making it an ideal venue for all types of water sports. The drive along the coast provides splendid views; all of which make this area a classic tourist destination.
This enticing sandy strip is situated 2 km east of Ayia Napa on the road between Cape Greko and Protaras. It is one of the most picturesque areas in Cyprus, and nicely sheltered from the prevailing winds.
The ever popular Nissi beach, to the far west, is often crowded peak season. It is a very fine stretch of white sand, edged by shallow clear seas. The small rocky island just off shore can be reached by swimming or wading. Further to the west is an equally enticing sandy beach -a popular place for sun bathing. Sandy Bay, a little sheltered inlet a few hundred metres to the east, is also ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
Places to visit:
Museum of The Sea (Thalassa)
Located on the south side of the central square, it is dedicated to the enhancement, promotion and preservation of the marine heritage of Cyprus. Colourful displays include marine artifacts, sculptures, engravings, ceramics and paintings of seascapes. Displays also include audio-visual panels, models and interactive exhibits.
Marine Life Museum (Tornaritis - Pierides)
Located in the Town Hall, the Marine Life Museum contains wonderful displays of fossils and shells from local waters. Its purpose is not only to show visitors the marine fauna of the Mediterranean but also to stress the importance of preserving this fragile environment.
Water and Amusement Parks
Cyprus boasts three water parks. Water World, just outside Ayia Napa, is said to be the largest in Europe. It has a Greek Mythology theme with columns and statues. However, once the kids tire of water chutes you can take them to the La Luna Fun Fair, also in Ayia Napa. It is a large amusement park with a wide range rides to suite all the family.
The beaches of Nissi and Protaras may be the focal points of the east but the spectacular scenery around Cape Greko is well worth visiting. The rocky coves, caves and bays provide an magnificent backdrop to the clear blues seas. The most visited spot is the Thalassines Spilies sea caves, famous for its much photographed sea arch and its popularity with snorkelers and divers. A few kilometres farther along is the more spectacular Palatia (palace) caves. An ideal end to the visit is a trip up to the Cape Greko viewpoint. You will need to leave the car and walk up the steep 500 m track to the viewpoint but you will be well rewarded for your efforts by the stunning views looking west.
The locals claim several sightings of the Ayia Napa Sea Monster in this area! It is said to resemble a cross between a porpoise and a serpent, named "To Filiko Teras" or "The Friendly Monster" by the local fishermen.
Ayia Napa Monastery
The monastery is just off the village square. Built in the 16th century, its large blank external walls are a stark contrast to the colourful interior. Once inside visitors are greeted with a peaceful cloistered courtyard with finely carved windows. The centerpiece of the courtyard is an octagonal fountain with four carved columns displaying coats of arms and animal heads. Part of the church building is underground, cut into the wall and entered by a flight of steps.
This church was built in 1421. The vaulted ceilings are painted with badges of the house of Lusignan. There are also fine murals of the last supper and the passing of Lazarus.
The literal translation is "built by angels". This interesting church was built in the 11th century on the ruins of a fifth century ballistica. The building is an interesting shape with lantern shaped domes. Many of the inner walls are painted with icons, that have been repainted again and again over the years. The showpiece of the church is the central mosaic, one of the finest in Cyprus, which shows angel's attending the Virgin Mary who stands holding the Christ child.
Famagusta was once one of the wealthiest cities in the world and the most important fortified port on the shores of the Mediterranean. Since the Greek evacuation in 1976, due to the Greek-Turkish dispute, it lies mainly abandoned like a ghost town.
Just inland from Famagusta is the church and monastery dedicated to St Barnabas, the founder of the apostolic church on Cyprus in 45 AD. The church of St Barnabas is preserved so that it appears exactly as it was when abandoned in 1976.
To the north of Famagusta, directly overlooking the sea, lies the magnificent ruins of Salamis. This ancient city-kingdom is on par with Kourion and provides a fascinating insight into this long-lost civilisation. Its many spectacular edifices include an amphitheatre, a gymnasium,Roman baths and royal tombs. The mosaics here are particularly beautiful.
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