Cyprus Vacations

Cyprus is an island nation located in the Mediterranean Sea. The island has a strong ties to Greek culture but other influences have held sway over the politics of the island. The proximity of the island in relation to Turkey brought the island under the Ottoman rule during the 1500s. But the country's proximity to Turkey and Syria has left it susceptible to foreign invasion and conflict over the centuries . Byzantine churches dot the island, ancient Greek amphitheaters have been found in the town of Kourion, and many hills lined with grape vineyards. Modern Cyprus is split between their Greek and Turkish history and culture. So in 1960 after several years of being controlled by the British, Cyprus was granted autonomy.

Cyprus Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Cyprus Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Cyprus

Cyprus Geography

Cyprus is a Mediterranean island known for its ancient relics, Turkish and Greek cultures, white beaches, limestone mountains, and warm, sunny weather. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. It’s approximately 3,500 square miles, which is about one-third the size of Connecticut. The island is fertile, with 40% comprised of arable farmland. Some of its most prominent features are the Kyrenia Mountains and the Mesaoria Plain in the center of the country the Memonia Terrane running from east to west at an elevation of about 6,500 feet, and the Troodos Mountains in the south.

Cyprus’s climate is classified as subtropical with two types, Mediterranean and semi-arid. Its year-round warm, sunny weather attracts tourists by droves. Each year sees an average of 15 inches of rainfall, most of which occurs during the winter. Summer days are hot, but many months of the year are temperate.

The capital of Cyprus is Nicosia, which is also its largest city. Both the city and the country are divided into the Greek region in the south and the Turkish region in the north.

Cyprus History and Culture

Cyprus is divided between the Republic of Cyprus in the south, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It’s a hotspot for tourists, with an economy that’s high-income and highly developed.

The etymology of the name Cyprus has been debated by historians. Since copper mining is a historically profitable trade on the island, it’s possible that Cyprus came from the Latin word for copper. Another legend says that the goddess Aphrodite gave the island its name. Throughout history, Cyprus has been positioned at a strategic site for involvement in world affairs. It’s been occupied by ruling powers ranging from Assyria to Egypt to Great Britain, and many others. Cyprus has its origins in Neolithic era, when there were at least two known villages on the island. Eventually, settlers from Palestine arrived. Copper mining was one of the island’s earliest industries. Because of its proximity to Egypt, much Egyptian cultural influence has been found in the archaeological records.

Around 1100 B.C., settlers from Greece arrived, bringing with them their religion, language, and way of life. Subsequent occupying forces demanded taxes, and eventually the islanders surrendered voluntarily to Cyrus of Persia. In the 300s B.C., Alexander the Great freed the island, which led to its complete hellenization. In 58 B.C., Cyprus became a province of the Roman Empire. In the first century A.D., the Apostle Paul is believed to have visited the island and introduced Christianity, which spread rapidly, leading to the founding of the Church of Cyprus. When the Roman Empire collapsed, Cyprus became a part of the Byzantine Empire. It was raided repeatedly by Arab invaders, and eventually occupied by Crusaders, who sold it to the Knights Templar. The French were the next to occupy Cyprus.

Two pivotal event in the island’s medieval history were 1) the establishment of the Latin church in 1196, and 2) the invasion of the Ottomans in 1571.

The Ottomans occupied Cyprus for the next several hundred years. The Greek War of Independence was fought in the 1820s, and some Greeks on Cyprus rebelled, but it wasn’t until the Russo-Turkish War in 1878 that the Ottomans were finally defeated. Under the terms of the Cyprus Convention, the British Empire became the ruling authority

Cyprus was a crown colony of Britain until 1960, when it officially declared its independence as the Republic of Cyprus. However, the minority Turkish population often came into conflict with the Greek Cypriots, leading Turkey to invade the country. Turkish forces still occupy the northern part of the island, which is known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Today, Cyprus’s population is around 800,000. It’s divided by the Green Line; the northern residents are mostly Sunni Muslims, while the Greek Orthodox religion and culture prevails in the south.

Cyprus is famous for its natural beauty, rich cultural traditions, ancient archaeological treasures, and its warm hospitality. Popular foods include lamb, mezedes (a meal made up of many small traditional dishes), and local fruit. Other Cyprian traditions include its folk art and handicrafts, like lacework, basket weaving, pottery, etc. There’s also the famous Carnival, festivals, music, dance, and drama.

Cyprus Landmarks

*Amathus:
Until 300 B.C., this ancient city was the home of royalty, and the location of a sanctuary for the goddess Aphrodite. The Limassol Museum showcases ongoing archaeological finds.

*Choirokoitia:
Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this neolithic settlement is a well-preserved example of prehistoric architecture and culture.

*Church of Argios Lazaros:
This is a Greek Orthodox church whose name means the Church of Saint Lazarus. It dates back to the 9th century A.D. and is a beautiful example of Byzantine and Gothic architecture.

*Kalavasos-Tenta:
This neolithic settlement was not discovered until 1947. It is believed to date back to 7000 B.C.

*Kolossi Castle:
Built in the Gothic style by the Crusaders in 1454, Kolossi Castle is an imposing reminder of the country’s medieval past. The original castle on the same site is believed to have been built in 1210.

*Kourion:
This ancient acropolis is the home of some of Cyprus’s most significant archaeological remains, including the House of Achilles, the Northwestern Basilica, the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, a stadium, aqueducts, theatre, forum, cathedral, and more. The entire area and all of the remains of this city-state are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

*Nea Pafos:
This is a town on the southwest coast of Cyprus. It’s the capital of the Paphos District, and in 2017 was named as the European Capital of Culture because of its amazing archaeological remains. It’s also listed by UNESCO.

*Palaipafos:
This site is located in the village of Kouklia and was Cyprus’s first site on the World Heritage list. It was a city-kingdom in ancient Cyprus, and it is the site of many significant historical landmarks, including the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, the House of Leda, a palace, church, and a sugar-cane refinery.

*Paphos Castle:
This structure was built as a fortress in the Byzantine era. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1200s, then rebuilt as a castle. It’s the site of the annual Paphos cultural festival.

*Tombs of the Kings:
This World Heritage Site in Paphos is an ancient necropolis two miles from the Paphos harbor. It’s made up of intricately carved underground tombs dating back to the 4th century B.C.