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On the edge of Larnaca Bay, the palm-lined seafront of Larnaca town bustles with cafes, tavernas, shops and bars.  Historic charm is lent to the scene by its fortress castle, now used as the town's summer cultural centre.  Larnaca is an excellent base from which to get to know the central and eastern section of Cyprus and its proximity to the international airport and a number of luxury hotels that have been developed along its beautiful sandy beaches make this a popular holiday choice.  Larnaca was originally known as Kition, or Khittim, and legend has it that the first settlement at the spot was founded by Noah's grandson Khittim.  But the name Larnaca probably comes from the Greek word "Larnax", which means sarcophagus, many of which have been unearthed in this area.

The town's heyday was as an ancient city kingdom established by the Mycenean Greeks in the 13th century BC, when it enjoyed the dual position of rich sea port and major centre of the copper trade.  Remains of that period excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean walls and a complex of Mycenean temples at the ancient Kition site.

Birthplace of the stoic philosopher Zeno, Larnaca was also the second home of St. Lazarus, who arrived there after his resurrection and later became its first Bishop.  The Church of St Lazarus standing in the centre of the town is well worth a visit.  The tomb of St Lazarus, who is still the patron saint of Larnaca, is under the sanctuary.

The town was not to regain its standing until the 17th century, when it became the consular and commercial centre of Cyprus, and its port once again flourished with trade.  It was here that the British landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island.

Much smaller than Nicosia or Limassol, Larnaca has a population of 62,000 and has managed to retain a relaxed, leisurely atmosphere.  Its main shopping area is Zenon Kitieos Street, a typically busy road of small shops, with a wonderfully colourful fruit and vegetable market at the far end.

Larnaca is known for its annual celebration of the Feast of Kataklysmos Greek Orthodox Whitsun - which is an important holiday.  The occasion is marked by enthusiastic water sports, feasting, singing and dancing.

 

Larnaca District Archaeological Museum
Kalogera Square Tel: +(357) 2430169
Interesting collection of finds from the Larnaca area, dating from the Neolithic Age to the Roman period.

Pierides Museum
Remarkable private collection of Cypriot antiquities, originally gathered together by Demetrios Pierides (1811-I895), and further enriched by members of the family.

Larnaca Fort
Larnaca seafront. Built in 1625, it was used as a prison in the first years of British rule. It now houses a small archaeological museum, with finds from Kition and the Hala Sultan Tekke excavations. The Fort is also used as the Larnaca Municipal Cultural Centre.

Ayios Lazaros Church
The magnificent church was built by Emperor Leo Vl, in the 9th century. Restoration was carried out in the 17th century, keeping faithfully to the original plan, and the church can be called one of the tinest examples of Byzantine architecture. The tomb of Lazaros, who after he was raised from the dead in Bethany by Christ, came to Cyprus and lived here for another thirty years and was consecrated as the Bishop of Kition by St. Barnabas and St. Mark, can be seen under the sanctuary. The iconostasi which separates the altar from the main church, is an excellent example of baroque wood carving. Near the church are some tombstones of Europeans who lived in Larnaca, in the 17th-18th century. Eight days before Easter, the icon of Saint Lazaros is taken in procession through the streets of Larnaca.

Kition
Approx. 500 m. north-east of the archaelogical Museum. One ot the most important ancient cityΡ Kingdoms, with architectural remains dating back to the 13th century BC. In about 1200 BC, the area was rebuilt by the Mycenaeans (Achaean Greeks), and one can see the remains of cyclopean walls made of giant blocks of stone, and a complex of five temples.

Palm Trees (Phinikoudes)
The palm-lined safront of Larnaca town bustles with cafes, tavernas, shops and bars.

Larnaca Marina
The Larnaca marina with 450 yacht capacity attracts many boats as a safe wintering place

Kamares
The 18th century aquaduct.

 

LARNACA AREA

Hala Sultan Tekke
3 km west of Larnaka on the road to Kiti, passing the Larnaca Airport.  Built in 1816 over the tomb of I mm Haram, who died on this spot in 649 during the first Arab raids.  According to legend I mm Haram was a relative of the Prophet Mohammed and the Tekke is an important place of Moslem pilgrimage ranking immediately after the shrines of Mecca, Medina and al Aksha in Jerusalem.

Angeloktisti Church
Kiti village, 11 km west of Larnaca.  Angeloktisti means 'Built by the Angel'.  This 11th century Byzantine church was built on a destroyed early Christian basilica, the apse of which survives together with one of the finest pieces of Byzantine art, a 6th century mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Child between two archangels, which rivals the Ravenna Mosaic.

Chapelle Royal
Pyrga village, 35 km south of Nicosia, 32 km from Larnaca.  Built by the Lusignan King Jenus in 1421, it contains a wall painting of the king with his wife, Charlotte de Bourbon, on one of its walls. Considered to be one of the most interesting structures surviving from the Frankish Period, it was restored in 1977.

Stavrovouni Monastery
9 km off the Nicosia-Limassol road, 40 km from Larnaca.  Perched on a rocky peak, 750 meters above sea level, Stavrovouni means the Mountain of the Cross, and according to tradition was founded by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who left a fragment of the Holy Cross to the monastery.  The brotherhood is extremely devout, keeping vows as strict as those of the Mount Athos, brotherhood in Greece.  Women are not allowed in the monastery.  Men may visit the monastery daily, from sunset, except from 12.00-13.00 (15.00 hrs in summer). Visits are not allowed on Green Monday and the following day.  There is an impressive ceremony and celebration on 14 September, the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  The Monastery of Ayia Varvara (Saint Barbara) at the foot of Stavrovouni hill, is easily accessible.  The monks here, as in Stavrovouni have a high reputation for icon painting.

Khirokitia
48 km south of Nicosia, off the Nicosia-Limassol road and 32 km from Larnaca.  Neolithic settlement dated to 6800 BC.  Excavations have brought to light one of the earliest neolithic cultures in the world.  Finds from Khirokitia are displayed at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.

Lefkara
8 km from Skarinou, off the Nicosia-Limassol road, 40 km from Larnaca.  A picturesque village, partly restored and protected, famous for its local lace known as 'Lefkaritika' and for its silverware.  According to tradition, Leonardo Da Vinci visited the village and bought an altar cloth, which he donated to the Milan cathedral.  'Lefkaritika' is easily available from shop in all towns, which are ordered from the lacemakers in the village direct at very competitive prices.  The House of Patsalos which is being restored, houses the Lace and Silverware Museum of Lefkara.

The church of the Archanel Michael in Kato Lefkara is of the single-aisled domed type and has wall paintings of the late 12th century. At Pano Lefkara, there is the church of the Holy Cross with a beautiful 18th century iconostasi and a unique 13th century silver cross. A religious fair takes place on the 13th-14th September, day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Ayios Minas Convent
Near Lefkara.  15th century convent with a church at the centre of the cloisters. The nuns, besides performing their religious rites. arc famous for their icon painting and honey production.

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