Do you like sightseeing and learning the history of the lands you visit up-close? Then, without a shadow of a doubt, you will enjoy this short list of 10 must-see places you simply must include in your checklist while visiting Cyprus, a country island with rich past and prominent architectural style, a representative specimen of every distinct historical era!
- Kalavasos - Tenta
Close to the village of Kalavasos, you will find the ancient ruins of a former settlement that will travel you back to 7000 BC. The locals call it merely “Tenta”, due to the cone-shaped roof that covers the settlement and can be seen from afar. Have in mind though that your Neolithic trip cannot be made on weekends because the facilities are closed.
Amathus is located 11 km east of the city of Limassol and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, a settlement that dates back to 1100 BC. In the course of time, it became the home to various nationalities such as Persians, Greeks, Ptolemies, Byzantines and Romans. The settlement was utterly destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century and was never inhabited after that. This is also the place where the most massive stone vase in the world was found, a large amphora that weighs 14 tons and reaches 1.85 metres height. This marvellous finding is now kept in Paris, in the Louvre Museum.
3. Kolossi Castle
Just 14 km west of Limassol stands a former Crusader stronghold. Initially, this castle was built in 1210 by the Frankish and was rebuilt in 1454 in its current form by Louis De Magnac, the Commander of Kolossi at that time. The castle was even under the rulership of the infamous Knights Templar for a short period. If you visit the area, don’t forget to taste the world-famous wine, known for centuries as “Commandaria”, a name that was given after the Templar’s Grand Commandery of the castle.
4. Nea Pafos
Although “Nea Pafos” means “New Pafos”, this name was given to the ancient capital city of Paphos, the ruins of which stand near the modern and active harbour of Paphos. The reason for this odd name is the existence of an even more ancient city than this one, Palaepaphos, which in Greek means “Old Paphos”. Nea Paphos was founded at the end of the 4th century BC and became a buzzing capital centre of Ptolemaic administration one century later. Numerous monuments can be found among the ruins, such as the remains of the Agora and an impressive ancient theatre.
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Choirokoitia is a prehistoric agricultural settlement believed to have its start as early as 7000 BC. Hence, it is among the very first proofs of human existence in Cyprus. This archaeological landmark is a 30-minutes-drive from Larnaka or Lefkosia.
6. Paphos Castle
A Medieval Castle that was built in the 13th century and was later occupied and transformed by the Venetians. Although it got destroyed in 1570, right before the Ottoman invasion, the Turks rebuilt it, and it is still standing and open for visitors up to this day.
7. Church of Agios Lazaros
This ancient church was originally built in the 10th century to be the tomb of Saint Lazarus. It is located in the very centre of Larnaca and is one of the most significant monuments of the Byzantine Era.
A significant archaeological site by the sea, with impressive mosaics from the Roman and Byzantine Era. Among the remarkable ruins stands out the House of Achilles, the gladiatorial stadium and of course the ancient amphitheatre with the excellent acoustic.
The founders of Palaepahos were the Myceneaens, back in 1200 BC, but here you can have a taste of different eras. For example, the House of Leda was a Roman creation in the second century AD and the remains of Panagia Catholiki Church, which was built in the 13th century, give a somewhat Medieval air to the site.
10. Paphos - Tombs of the Kings
Eight tombs from the Hellenistic Period, reserved only for royalty, is the famous site Tombs of the Kings in Paphos. The atriums and the architectural style is exquisite.
Impressed by Cyprus’s rich history? The truth is we have just scratched the surface!
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