One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Cyprus, Larnaca is the main town in the south and plays a prominent part in the commercial life of the region. The town is built on the ancient side of Kition, an important city of antiquity dating from the 13th century BC. Legend attributes its founding to Kittim, a direct descendant of Noah. It is also a location of violent earthquakes, which destroyed the city 300 years after its foundation. During Roman and Byzantine times it was not used, only becoming popular in the second half of the Ottoman rule when it was the centre of trading in the Levant and an important port of embarkation for Christian Pilgrims to the holy land.
From Larnaca to the eastern Troodos foothills the landscape is white and arid, until it reaches the eastern shores of Larnaca bay. Here the soil is richer and with good irrigation, supports a variety of vegetables crops and many vineyards. Much of the coastline west of Larnaca is an unexciting strip of shingle shores. It is not until the Ayia Napa region, further east, that the better sandy shores are to be found. The attractive palm-tree lined promenade is home to hotels and international restaurants, leading down to a small marina.
Most of the ancient city lies buried under the modern town, and over the years many areas of interest have been excavated and the artifacts found can be seen in the District Archaeological Museum. The Acropolis dates from the 13th century BC. It stood on Bamboula hill but unfortunately there is very little to be seen today. Larnaca fort was erected in 1625 by the Ottoman Turks. In later times the fort was used by the British as a prison. It is now a museum housing exhibits from the surrounding villages.
Places to See:
The monastery of the cross, perched high on a hill at 690 metres above sea level, can be seen for miles around. From within it offers impressive views over Larnaca and the Troodos mountains. The 17th century buildings are fairly unimpressive. It was built on the orders of Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, after she found the true cross in AD 327. It is claimed that a fragment of the cross still lies within, covered by a silver casing.
Larnaca Fort (built by the Turks in 1625) now contains a small museum of archaeological finds from Kition and Hala Sultan Tekke. Located close to the shore, it offers excellent view of the harbour from its ramparts. The open area inside the fort is sometimes used for concerts. Just opposite the marina is the Pierides Paleontological Museum and Municipal Art Gallery. The Cyprus tourist information office (CTO), located in the street behind (Plateia Vasileos Pavlou),provides walking tours of Larnaca, departing each Wednesday and Friday at 10am.
This church owes its name and prominence to events from the Holy Bible. John, Chapter 11 tells that Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha, was resurrected by Jesus at Bethany in Palestine. He was later expelled by the Jews and came to Cyprus where he settled and become a bishop. He eventually died and was buried in a church that stood on the present site, which was then renamed after him. In 890 his tomb was discovered but sometime later his body was stolen to reappear in Constantinople and then in Marseilles. In the 17th century the church was rebuilt and its extensive campanile then added. The saints empty sarcophaguscan be found in the south apse.
Translated as "the arches". The massive 75 arched watercourse was built by the Ottoman Turks in 1745 to bring water into Larnaca, from wells on the river Trimithius and was still in use until 1939.
This traditional open air theatre comes to life during the Larnaca festival in July, when it hosts concerts and performances of ancient Greek drama.
The museum houses many relics unearthed from local excavations. There are several interesting ceramic artifacts, however not all the exhibits are from Kition. There is a fascinating presentation of limestone heads and terracotta figures. The museum illustrates how the local inhabitants in the neolithic period lived and were buried. A tour of the gardens is recommended, where you can wander through a mass of ancient statues.
unusual phenomenon is several kilometres long and about 1.6 km
wide. During the summer it completely evaporates, with a heat
haze shimmering above a white precipitate. The salt that forms on the
surface is no longer collected. After as little as one day's rain it
is transformed back to a lake. During the autumn and winter months
of pink flamingos, migrating from Eastern Europe, make the lake their
home. There is a car park and picnic area across from the airport,
which is an ideal place to sit and watch the birds wading in the waters.
Set among the palm trees on the west bank of the salt lake, Hala Sultan Tekke is a welcome oasis in the blistering heat. It is a very important place of Muslim pilgrimage, surpassed only by the shrines of Mecca. The sanctuary is now enclosed by a domed mosque, built in 1816.