As a Cypriot, myself, living abroad is always an emotional experience and I particularly feel a very strong connection to Larnaca. Like a bee to the honeypot, it just keeps drawing me back. My father was born here before moving to Ammochostos (Famagusta) when he was a young boy and finally settling in Nicosia.
Arriving on Friday afternoon, we checked-in our hotel where we are staying for the next three nights. Having stayed here on a previous trip, I find the staff extremely friendly and helpful and love its great central location.
We’re spending four days rediscovering the maze of back streets of Larnaca and stopping to chat to the traditional craftsmen in their workshops, some of whom have been here for decades.
The Kingdom of Kition
Larnaca was built in the ancient city kingdom of Kition, colonised first by the Greeks in the 13th century BC and then by the Phoenicians. Archeologists have found remains from the ancient city as well as what they believe to be the ‘Acropolis’. It’s also the birthplace of the great Zenon Kitieos the philosopher and the place where Saint Lazarus came to live after his resurrection.
There are loads of interesting places in the Larnaca district we’ll be visiting such as Saint Lazarus Church, numerous archaeological sites, museums, cultural galleries, the Salt Lake, Neolithic Settlement, centuries-old churches, Stavrovouni Monastery, the traditional lace village of Lefkara, and Kornos, a village well known for its pottery.
Later on we’ll be kicking back in our favourite coffee shop or fish taverna on the seafront with it’s characteristic ‘finikoudes’ (palm trees) that line the promenade and stretch from the marina all the way down to the old fort. So what are we waiting for, let’s go!
The Municipal Gallery and Cultural Centre is situated on the seafront promenade and consists of 5 Colonial customs warehouses (1881) that have been converted into a Cultural Centre and Museum.
Church of St Lazarus and Ecclesiastic Museum – this magnificent 10th century Byzantine stone church was built by the Emperor, Leo VI and restored in the 17th century; it has a beautiful wood-carved iconostasis. Saint Lazarus came to Cyprus after being resurrected by Jesus and stayed here for 30 years. His tomb is housed in the sanctuary beneath the church Saint Lazarus is the patron saint of Larnaca.
Larnaca Fort and District Medieval Museum – built in 1625 and later used as a prison during British rule. In summer the open air court yard is used as a garden theatre and stages children’s puppet shows.
The Finikoudes Promenade – I love walking along the promenade lined with palm trees (which give it its name), cafes, bars and restaurants, and stopping for frappe or an ice cream flavoured with masticha.
Lovely Larnaca Highlights
The Salt Lake close to the old airport – with its pedestrian path circling the lake and thousands of elegant pink flamingoes and wild swans. These migratory birds are here every year making spectacular viewing. It is also the site of Hala Sultan Tekke, an important Muslim pilgrimage site, built to honour the Prophet Mohammed’s aunt who was killed during the first Arab raids of Cyprus.
Phaneromeni Church – a rock cavern with two chambers, possibly a pagan tomb back to the Phoenicians. The chapel is credited with magical properties and those who suffer headaches and other ailments walk around the chamber three times and leave behind a piece of cloth or tuft of hair.
Lovely Larnaca Highlights
Pieridis Museum – contains a great collection of archaeological, medieval, post-Byzantine and Cypriot folk art collections. It also has an impressive collection of old cartography of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean.
Voroklini Beach Trail – walking west along the beautiful seafront of the Larnaca Bay towards Voroklini and Pyla, this trail is rich in sea shells and colourful stones and provides fabulous photo opportunities of the most magical sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see!
There’s no shortage of festivals and celebrations in Cyprus and one of the loveliest is the Flower Festival, which celebrates the arrival of spring and nature’s rebirth and dates back to Ancient Greece.
What are your impressions of Larnaca?
Any comments are welcome