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Places of Interest in Cyprus
Church of Ayios Lazarus
The Church of Saint Lazarus (Greek: Ιερός Ναός Αγίου Λαζάρου), is a late-9th century church in Larnaca, Cyprus. It belongs to the Church of Cyprus, an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church.
The Church of Saint Lazarus is named for New Testament figure Lazarus of Bethany, the subject of a miracle recounted in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus raises him from the dead. According to Orthodox tradition, sometime after the Resurrection of Christ, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea because of rumoured plots on his life and came to Cyprus. There he was appointed by Paul and Barnabas as the first Bishop of Kittim (present-day Larnaca). He is said to have lived for thirty more years and on his death was buried there for the second and last time. The Church of Ayios Lazaros was built over the reputed tomb of Lazarus.
The impressive interior consists of a central nave, two aisles, and three domes that are now boarded in. The roof is supported by twin piers topped by reused Byzantine capitals. In one of the piers, steps ascend to an elaborate, 300-year-old Rococo pulpit.
Notable icons in the church include one of the Virgin and Child on the north pier at the crossing; one of St. George and the Dragon (1717); a silver filigree icon of the Raising of Lazarus (1659); and another icon of the Raising of Lazarus in which a spectator is holding his nose at the stench. The silver icon is carried in procession in the presence of the Bishop of Kition on Easter Saturday. The crypt, accessed by steps that descend from near the southern side of the apse, contains Lazarus' empty marble sarcophagus.
The Monastery of Kykkos, the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus, is found in the region of Marathasa. It is situated on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318 metres northwest of Troodos. Dedicated to Panagia, it possesses one of three icons attributed to Agios Loukas the Evangelist. The icon, covered in silver gilt, is in a shrine made of tortoise shell and mother - of - pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis.
Unfortunately the monastery burned down several times and nothing remains of the original structure. Blessed with divine grace, Cypriot hermit Isaiah miraculously cured the emperor's daughter of an incurable illness. As a reward, he asked for the icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) kept at the imperial palace at Constantinople. Though grieved at the prospect of losing his precious treasure, the emperor sent it to Cyprus with fitting honours together with funds to pay for the construction of a monastery where the sacred relic would be kept. At the hermit's request, the emperor’s representative in Cyprus Manuel Vutomites also endowed the monastery with three villages. As the gift was later confirmed by imperial charter, the monastery is considered to have been established by imperial decree. The first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, served here as a novice. At his own wish he was buried on the summit of Throni, 3 kilometres west of the monastery, and not far from his native village of Panayia.
Baths of Aphrodite
According to the Greek poet Hesiod, Aphrodite was born when Ouranos was castrated by his son Cronus. After Cronus had castrated him, legend suggests he threw the severed genitals into the sea. From the aphros (sea foam) arose Aphrodite. She was born adult and floated into land on a scallop shell. Her legendary birthplace is said to be at the Rock of Romiou near Paphos. She was married to Hephaestus; she also had a lover Adonis, who she was previously a surrogate mother to. Her sons included Eros, Anteros, Hymenaios and Aeneas.
The baths of Aphrodite are just along the coast from Latchi. According to myth, the goddess Aphrodite used to bathe in the pool of the nearby grotto which is shaded by a fig tree and has a continuous run of water from the overhead rocks. The baths are considered a source of fertility.
The Goddess of Love used to take her bath in a cool pond near Polis. The place is known as "Baths of Aphrodite" and provides a magnificent view of the Bay of Polis. According to legend, after swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Bay, Aphrodite used to bathe in this pond, surrounded by idyllic landscape with the sweet smelling wild flowers. It is here that she met her beloved Adonis for the first time. Adonis was hunting in the Akamas forest when stopped over the wonderful spring to quench his thirst. He was struck by the sight of the naked goddess bathing in the crystal waters. Aphrodite and Adonis were instantly bewitched by each other's extraordinary beauty.
Leventis Municipal Museum Nicosia
The Leventis Municipal Museum presents the history and social development of the city of Nicosia from the Chalcolithic period (3.000 B.C.) to the present day. The Museum was founded in 1984 after the initiative of the Mayor of Nicosia, Mr Lellos Demetriades.
The Museum is named after its donor Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation which bought and restored the building and it’s administered by the Municipality of Nicosia. On April 20, 1989, the Municipality of Nicosia and the Anastasios G. Leventis Foundation opened the Museum to the public, the first historical museum in Cyprus. The collections displayed in its permanent galleries represent over 5.000 years of the capital's history. The collections are of a wide range and include archaeological artic rafts, costumes, photographs, medieval pottery, maps and engravings, jewels and furniture.
The emblem of the Leventeio .The Leventis Municipal Museum's emblem presents the outline of the city's Venetian Walls -star shaped with 11 bastions. Inside the walls one can observe the outline of the gate at the Museum's entrance, also symbolising the gate one opens in order to gain entrance to the city's history.
The Museum is stone-made neo-classical mansion in the Trypiotis parish, one of the most significant parishes of the old city.
Kolossi Castle is a crusader stronghold a few kilometres outside the city of Limassol. It held great strategic importance and contained production of sugar, one of Cyprus' main exports in the Middle Ages. The original castle was probably built in 1210 by Frankish military when the land of Kolossi was given by King Hugh III to the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, and the present castle was built in 1454 by the Hospitallers. Dwellers in the castle include the Templars and the already mentioned Hospitallers.
After the fall of Acre in 1291, it served the guard of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem whilst in Cyprus.
In the 14th century it came for a time under the domain of the Knights Templar. The castle and grounds evoke a peaceful feeling, even though the building itself is pretty austere. The stonework is in fine condition considering the structures age, children in particular seem to love exploring the staircases and battlements as well as the grounds, in which if you concentrate you can be whisked back hundreds of years and imagine life in and around this splendid building.
Limassol Medieval Museum (Limassol Castle)
The Medieval Castle of Lemesos, situated near the old harbour in the heart of the historical centre of the city of Lemesos, houses the Medieval Collection of the Cyprus Museum. Although there existed earlier architectural phases of an older and larger structure, the present edifice dates to the period of Ottoman rule.
Archaeological investigation within the castle revealed that it was built over an Early Christian basilica (4th-7th century A.D.) and a Middle Byzantine monument (10th-11th century A.D.). Other finds beneath the Castle witness the existence of an important church, possibly the city's first cathedral. According to Etienne Lusignan, the original castle was erected by Guy de Lusignian in 1193. From its erection until the beginning of the 16th century, damages were caused by the continuous attacks of the town by the Genoese and the Mameluks as well as by earthquakes alternating with restorations and reconstructions. In 1538 the Ottomans captured Lemesos and the Castle. The Venetian governor of Cyprus, after recapturing the Castle, decided to demolish it in order to avoid its possible seizure. This destruction was completed in 1567/8. After the Ottoman acquisition of Cyprus in 1576, the remains or parts of the remains of the Castle were incorporated (ca. 1590) in the new Ottoman fort which was considerably strengthened. The underground chamber and the first floor were transformed into prison cells and remained in use until 1950. When the central prisons were transferred to Lefkosia, the Castle of Lemesos was ceded to the Department of Antiquities and used as the District Museum. It has housed the Medieval Collection of the Cyprus Museum since 1987.
The Castle of Larnaka
The Castle of Larnaka is situated on the southern point of the coastal avenue known as “Foinikoudes" (palm trees). Abbot Giovanni Mariti, who lived in Larnaka during the first half of the 18th century, records that the Castle of Larnaka was built by the Turks but that it was already in a semi-ruinous state at the time, even though a garrison was still kept there.
According to older written sources, such as Florius Boustronius and Jauna, the Castle dates to an earlier period, during the years of the reign of King James I (1382-1398). These sources mention that the Castle was constructed in order to protect the harbour of the town which, after the capture of Famagusta, was used as the island's main port. Other references by travellers confirm that the Castle was constructed before 1625. Nothing is known about the plan of the 14th century Castle. In its present state of conservation the castle consists of a complex of buildings constructed during different chronological periods. The two -storey building on the north side was constructed during the Ottoman period, as is indicated by its architectural style and a Turkish inscription above the entrance, whereas the east and south wings belong to earlier phases. The British Administration used the western chamber of the ground floor in the east for the execution of prisoners. The gallows which must had been constructed in the room were in use until 1948.
Today the Castle houses a small museum consisting of three rooms situated on the upper floor of the main building, directly above the entrance. Antiquities from Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments of Cyprus (4th-16th centuries A.D.) are exhibited in the western room. Photographs of Byzantine Wall-paintings dated from 11th-16th centuries A.D. are exhibited in the central room. In the large eastern room representative examples of medieval glazed pottery (Sgraffito ware) (12th –18th centuries), metal cooking utensils and guns (18th-19th centuries) as well as helmets and swords (15th-16th centuries) are on display. The objects’ exhibition is enriched with photographs of defensive structures (11th-17th centuries) and Gothic and Renaissance architecture styles of Cyprus (13th-16th centuries).
Hala Sultan Tekke
Hala Sultan Tekke or the Mosque of Umm Haram (Turkish: Hala Sultan Tekkesi) is a very prominent Muslim shrine near Larnaca, on the island of Cyprus. Umm Haram (Hala Sultan in the Turkish language) was the Islamic prophet Muhammad's wet nurse and the wife of Ubada bin al-Samit. Most accounts establish a connection between the site and the death of Umm Haram during the first Arab raids on Cyprus under the Caliph Muawiyah between 647 and 649, which were later pursued throughout the Umayyad and the Abbasid periods. According to these accounts, Umm Haram, being of very old age, had fallen from her mule and had died during a siege of Larnaca. She was buried near the salt lake and her grave became a sacred shrine. The shrine, and later the mosque and the whole complex were named after her. According to Shia belief, her grave lies within Jannatul Baqi cemetery in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
The tomb of Umm Haram is considered a sacred place by both Muslims and Christians and has, historically, attracted Christian travellers and pilgrims. In an assessment of the environmental and cultural assets of Cyprus, Professor George E. Bowen, a senior Fullbright scholar at the University of Tennessee, is quoted as referring to the Hala Sultan Tekke as the third holiest place for Muslims in the world. This view has been echoed by other sources including the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus and the Cypriot administrations Department of Antiquities. Others describe the site as fourth most important. As a result of the site being located in the Greek non-Muslim sector of the divided island, pilgrimage visits to the site are infrequent.
Paphos Castle is located on the edge of Paphos harbour. It was originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour. It was then rebuilt by the Lusignans in the thirteenth century after being destroyed in the earthquake of 1222. In 1570 it was dismantled by the Venetians. After capturing the island, the Ottomans restored and strengthened it. Throughout the ages it has seen many uses. It has served as a fortress, a prison and even a warehouse for salt during the British occupation of the island. More recently the castle serves as a backdrop to the annual open air Paphos cultural festival which takes place in September.
It was declared a listed building in 1935 and represents one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city of Paphos. Several archaeological excavations have taken place to investigate its past.
The castle itself is a stunning stone walled castle built on the harbour. There is an arched battle way bridge that connects the castle to the harbour itself. There are very few windows in this castle but the view from the top platform is magnificent and from here you can see Kato Paphos in all its glory. It really is a site worth seeing and for those interested in culture; Paphos Castle is listed in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites and is fully protected.
The Adonis Baths
Adonis, the God of beauty, was born after Aphrodite turned his mother Myrrha into a myrrh tree. Eventually, the tree burst open and Adonis emerged from within it. Once Adonis was born, Aphrodite was so moved by his beauty that she sheltered him and entrusted him to Persephone. She was also taken by his beauty and refused to give him back. The dispute was eventually settled by Zeus, who decided Adonis would spend one third of each year with each goddess and the last third wherever he wanted. Adonis always chose to spend 2 thirds of the year with Aphrodite.
Artemis, the Goddess of hunting, was said to be jealous of the love between Aphrodite and Adonis, and wanted to kill Adonis. She threw a golden almond into the baths, but Poseidon the god of sea, saw what happened and covered the golden almond with a torrent to stop Adonis drowning. She then asked Mars, the God of War to push the mountains onto Adonis whilst he was at the baths; Poseidon once again came to his assistance and saved him. However, one day whilst Adonis was hunting, a man disguised as a wild boar wounded him. He returned to the baths but later died in the arms of Aphrodite.
The Adonis baths are located in Kili, Paphos 1 km from Coral Bay. It is a steep climb, but worth it! Legend has it, that Adonis tended to his horses at the site of the baths and he hunted in the nearby Akamas forest. According to Greek Mythology, Aphrodite and Adonis spent a great deal of time here as it was their favourite place, and also here it was where many of their children were born. It is rumoured that the citizens of Paphos are descendants of the two lovers.