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White sand beaches, waters dyed pink by the reflected colour of flamingos, archaeological finds from the mists of prehistory, traditional cuisine, a legendary nightlife. The third largest town in Cyprus, located on the south-eastern edge of the island, is a kaleidoscope of surprises. Take an Aegean flight to Larnaca and enjoy a Mediterranean paradise with a cosmopolitan character.
Take a walk at Foinikoudes, the coastal boulevard of the town lined with palm trees, the main meeting place for locals and tourists beside the deep-blue waters. Follow the footsteps of Lazarus, brought back from the dead by Jesus, whose church, a thousand years old, stands in the centre of Larnaca, or visit the lakeside mosque, the Hala Sultan Tekke, a watery paradise for migrating birds. Familiarize yourself with one of the most ravishing cuisines of the Mediterranean, enjoying Cypriot dishes in one of the little tavernas with their fresh and authentic local specialties.
Explore the countryside around Larnaca, the landscape dotted with little villages like Lefkara, with its famous embroidered goods, or important archaeological sites like Hoirokoitia, and places of worship with centuries of history and tradition, like the Stavrovouni Monastery
Sightseeing in Larnaca
This iconic landmark in the centre of Larnaca is a Byzantine church built in the reign of Leon the Wise (Leon VI) in 900 AD. In the crypt lies the tomb of Lazarus, who is said to have served for thirty years as Archbishop of Larnaca, following his miraculous resurrection by Christ. Pause to admire the gilded, wood-carved screen and the exquisite Byzantine icons. Next door you will find the Byzantine Museum, with relics from the thousand-year history of the church.
Address: Agiou Lazarou Square, 00357 24 304 169.
A unique collection of finds from Cyprus, ranging in date from the prehistoric era to the Byzantine age. Of particular interest are the exhibits from the prehistoric settlements of Hoirokoitia and Kalavassos, including bone tools and ivory artefacts from the Bronze Age. Address: Kalograion Square, 00357 24 304 169.
One of the most important museums on the island, the life’s work of the Cypriot philanthropist and collector Dimitris Pieridis, and home to veritable treasures from the island covering 9,000 years of history, from the Neolithic Era to the Middle Ages.
Address: 4 Zinonos Kitieos St., 0035724652495
The Fortress has stood beside the sea since the 14th century and evokes memories of the Ottoman period and the years of British rule, when it served as a prison. There is a small museum with exhibits relating to the history of the Fortress.
Address: south of Foinikoudes beach, 0035724304576.
Located 40km east of Larnaca, Aghia Napa is a cosmopolitan resort with fabulous white sand beaches. You can take a little boat from the harbour of Aghia Napa to the beaches of Protaras and Pernera, and to the rocky headland of Cape Greco with its sea caves, hidden coves and the rare orchids which bloom here in springtime.
You should definitely visit this village 40km west of Larnaca, famed for its lace and silver. It is said that even Leonardo da Vinci came here to order embroidered cloth for the altar of Milan Cathedral. Wander among the dazzling white houses, and visit the Museum of Silverwork and Embroidery.
It’s worth arranging an outing to Kiti, 11km south-west of Larnaca, to visit the 11th century Byzantine church, built on the remains of an earlier structure. Admire the superb 6th century mosaic depicting the Virgin and Child, flanked by the Archangels Gabriel and Michael.
Perched on the top of Olympus Hill, the monastery dates from 327 AD and has a thrilling history. It is said that St. Eleni, mother of Constantine the Great, was shipwrecked on the Cypriot coast on her return from the Holy Land. A vision instructed her to found the historic monastery, close to the village of Kornos in the province of Larnaca. Within the church a fragment of the True Cross is preserved.
The mosque, one of the most important of Islamic shrines, emerges from the palms and cedars on the shores of the Larnaca Salt Lake, six kilometres outside the town. A superb example of 19th century Ottoman architecture, this octagonal mosque was built on the site where Umm Haram, a relative of the Prophet Mohammed, is said to be buried. The salt lake beside the mosque is a wetland protected by the Ramsar Convention and home in winter to flamingos and other migrating birds.
You should visit one of the oldest prehistoric settlements on the island, for a journey back to 6800 BC! The Neolithic settlement, located 33km from Larnaca, is a UNESCO world heritage site; it is believed to have been home to two thousand settlers, living in houses made of stone and clay, engaged in rearing goats and making earthenware vessels.