Cyprus is steeped in history and culture. Claimed to be the mythical birthplace of the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, the island provides a backdrop to many diverse attractions, some which are even centuries old. If you’re looking to explore the vibrant culture and fascinating history of Cyprus, here are some of the most memorizing places you won’t want to miss on your trip.
St Hilarion Castle
Though it’s now a castle ruin, this has to be one of the island’s most beautiful monuments, which also offers all visitors an extensive view across a large proportion of Cyprus. Though many tourists like to combine the castle as part of their hiking vacation because of its mountain’s location, it tends to draw most travelers with its tales of local myths and legends – with claims that a fairy Queen once lived here, charming all those around the castle!
The House of Dionysus
A most popular archeological tourist destination is Dionysus. This is home to the most intricate mosaic floors which, to this day, have been wonderfully preserved and still offer glimpses of their original coloring. Full of the ruins of Graeco and Romans, the sheer artistry of this site is worth a visit alone! Additionally, it takes its name from the God of Dionysus, a Greek mythology figure, who you’ll find mentioned throughout the house.
Tombs of the Kings
A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, you only need to stand on this landscape to be transported back to the period of the Hellenistic or Romans! Though they have the title of Kings, these tombs don’t hold the remains of royalty, instead referring to their grandeur like appearance. Locals have long respected these tombs which aimed to resemble houses for the living, rather than those dead within them.
A history lovers paradise, this museum is not only housed in the beautiful city of Nicosia, but it is home to some of the most astounding exhibits, detailing much of the island’s long and eventful past. With artifacts dating as far back as 2300 BC, there are many traditional items right through to recent colonial eras. For those tourists who may be looking for more information regarding British rule on Cyprus, this is the place to access all supporting documentation, past accounts and an understanding of how it shaped the island when it divided in 1974.
A stunning mixture of time periods in the form of its various ruins, this is one of the island’s most treasured historical sites. Offering all visitors, a wealth of historical background and history lessons, locals claim the area was once a grand ancient city. You only have to look at its scale, structure, and makeup to understand that the area must have been privy to many battles – both on the field and in the churches.
With its home in the Marathas Valley, this is not the usual ruin or archeological site you’d expect from a monastery – instead a splendid and wealthiest of monasteries. Though it has a checkered past and faced ruin on several occasions, tradition claims the Emperor Alexios sent a silver gilt icon here which was dedicated to Apostle Luke. Today, tourists can find out more through its museum and take part in occasional religious fairs held here.
This impressive castle sits pride of place on the outskirts of Limassol and commands a superior location over the city’s coastline. However more impressive is how far back the castle can date its discovery. Claimed to play a significant part during the Holy Land Crusades, experts suggest that the Knights of St. Johns first took up their posts here, making it a crusader stronghold and commandery.
The Cyprus Museum
If you’re looking for more background on the whole of the island’s history, you need to take a trip to Nicosia’s museum. This wonderfully curated museum is jam-packed with treasures and can offer you all the knowledge you require about life on the island, from as far back as the Neolithic age. With statues and exhibits that date back to the 7th century BC, this is a fantastic way to learn more about Cyprus, its inhabitants, and perhaps plan the rest of your trip there onwards.
The Old Town
If you really are looking to sample old town Cyprus, Nicosia has an old town which can transport you as far back as 1450. With the oldest church residing here, the Panagia Chrysaliniotissa is claimed to have been built around 1450, with the Omeriye Mosque laying claim to 14th-century designs and the House of Hatzigeorgakis Kornesios with records referring to the 18th century! This is one of the most stunning ways to experience Cyprus culture at both its past and current best, with shops, restaurants, and cafes also lined up along the way.