Larnaca

 

 

 Where East meets West.

 

Both Christianity and Islam have revered religious sites in Larnaca. The mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke, built in honor of Prophet Mohammed’s aunt, who died here after falling from her horse, is an important place of Moslem pilgrimage. Its minaret rises up amidst a copse of tall palm and cypress trees, shimmering like an oasis mirage on the edge of the salt lake, a favourite winter habitat for flamingoes and other migratory birds.

 

Larnaca was the second home of St. Lazarus, who lived here after his resurrection and later became its first Bishop.

The impressive 10th century Church of St. Lazarus in the centre of the town was built over the saint’s tomb and is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus.

 

The town is built over the ancient city kingdom of Kition, a rich sea port and major centre of the copper trade and later a Phoenician stronghold. Its remains can be seen today in its cyclopean walls made of giant blocks of stone and a complex of 12th century BC Mycenaean Greek temples.

 

Stroll along the palm- lined sea- front promenade and indulge in some people watching at one of the many cafes or restaurants. The nearby marina is a friendly community of local yacht owners and a haunt for yachtsmen from all over the world.

 

On the outskirts of town, the Angeloktisti Church in the village of Kiti has rare 6th century Bysantine mosaics. Solitary Stavrovouni, dramatically perched on the peak of a mountain top, is one of the oldest monasteries in Cyprus. The hills are dotted with picturesque villages like Vavla or Lefkara, famous for its local lace and its filigree silver- ware. Choirokoitia with its reconstructed round huts and Tenta are important Neolithic settlements, the former being a world heritage site.