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Cyprus Travel & Holiday Tips

Nicosia (Lefkosia)

The capital of Cyprus since the 12th century, Nicosia stands at the heart of the Mesaoria Plain. It is currently divided by the �?Green Line’, a UN buffer zone that separates the Turkish-occupied north of the island and the Government-controlled south. The Old City, which is being renovated in part, is defined by 16th-century walls built by the Venetians. Among attractions and points of interest are the Cyprus Museum, a storehouse of the island’s archaeological treasures, the Folk Art Museum, the new Archbishop’s Palace, St John’s Cathedral Byzantine churches, the Byzantine Museum/Makarios Cultural Center and the Ömeriye Mosque. The city hosts the annual International State Fair (end of May) and the Nicosia Arts Festival (beginning of June).

The Nicosia area has some interesting excursion possibilities, including the Royal Tombs and Agios Irakleidios Monastery at Tamassos; the five-dome church and the mosque in Peristerona; the Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church, in a cliff-side cave near Deftera. Further into the rugged Pitsylia Region, in the hills southwest of Nicosia, is Machairas Monastery, close to the restored and protected traditional villages of Fikardou, Gourri and Lazanias.

Larnaca & the Southeast

An industrious resort town, Larnaca has Cyprus’ main international airport on its doorstep, a harbour with deep-water berths and a marina. The seafront promenade is fringed with palm trees and cafes and tavernas. Places of interest include the Agios Lazaros Church and its associated Byzantine Museum, Larnaca Fort, the District Archaeological Museum, the Pierides Museum (a private archaeological museum), the Natural History Museum, the Tornaritis-Pierides Palaeontology Museum and the scant ruins of ancient Kition. During the feast of Kataklysmos (the Greek Orthodox Whitsun), celebrated throughout Cyprus but with especial enthusiasm in Larnaca, crowds throng the shore for watersports, singing, dancing, eating and drinking.

Near the airport is the Hala Sultan Tekkesi, a historic mosque standing in beautiful gardens on the edge of Larnaka Salt Lake (dry in summer), a winter home of migratory flamingoes. Nearby, in Kiti, Panagia Angeloktisti Church contains a superb sixth-century Byzantine mosaic of the Virgin and Child. In the hills to the west is the village of Lefkara, famous for its handmade lace, and the Convent of Agios Minas. Off the Limassol–Nicosia road are the hilltop Stavrovouni Monastery, and the Crusader-era Chapelle Royal near Pyrga. Further west, on a hillside at Choirokoitia, are the remains of a neolithic village from 5800 BC, one of the earliest settlements in Cyprus.

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