The south coast town of Limassol is the island's largest seaside resort. Acting as a magnificent backdrop to the city that spreads for ten miles along the coast are the Troodos mountains, in whose fertile foothills most of the country's grapes are grown. Since the Middle Ages when the Crusaders held Cyprus under Richard the Lionheart, Limassol has been known to traders for its wine and sugar cane. Now, this second largest city of Cyprus, with a population of 135,000 is the centre of its wine-making industry, and an important commercial and tourist centre.
The town's carefree holiday atmosphere, with wide seafront promenade and bustling little shopping streets, is matched by the gaiety and lively character of its people. With its fun-loving reputation and the best nightlife on the island, it is fitting that only Limassol stages some of the island's best-known festivals: the annual Wine Festival in September, when the various wineries offer free samples of their products for ten days, the ten day pre-Lenten Carnival with masquerade parties balls and grand parades, the Limassol Festival in summer and the ancient Drama Festival at Kourion.
Concentrated chiefly on the eastern side of Limassol, all types of holiday accommodation have been built close to the sea. These range from luxury hotels to apartments and villas. Near them are a wide range of tavernas pubs, discos and nightclubs. There are numerous beaches to choose from, some very popular during midsummer with the convenience of changing rooms, showers, cafes and bars and others that are uncrowded, particularly those on the outskirts of town, such as the sandy beach known as 'Ladies Mlle', west of the new harbour. Limassol also has an attractive, newly-completed marina equipped with every facility for the yachtsman.
As a shopping centre, Limassol offers the full gamut from ultra-modern to traditional and handmade. European wares are place alongside local produce, and as in other parts of the island, shoes and clothes can be made to measure in a matter of days. Busy St Andrews Street, not far from the seafront promenade, makes a fascinating trip with its quaint buildings and overhanging terraces, under which a plethora of small shops vie for attention on this narrow, jostling street. Another important shopping street is Makarios Avenue, where many prestigious boutiques and showrooms are located, as well as small shops of every type.
A tour to one of the wineries can easily be arranged in order to witness production and taste the final product. Down near the old port is Limassol Castle, where Richard the Lionheart allegedly married Queen Berengaria of Navarre in 1191 and crowned her Queen of England - the first Coronation and Royal Marriage to take place outside England. It's grounds house the Medieval Museum of Cyprus with interesting pottery and tombstones amongst its numerous exhibits. Limassol also has an Archaeological Museum, with fascinating statues and pottery finds, the municipal Art gallery as well as a Folk Art Museum, where specially staged room-sets display the old clothes and utensils. The Municipal Gardens with small zoo offer a pleasant stroll amidst lush trees plants and shrubs.
Places of Interest in Limassol
Limassol Castle-Cyprus Mediaeval Museum
Built in the 14th century on the site of an earlier Byzantine castle. According to tradition Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre and crowned her Queen of England, here in 1191. The castle houses the Cyprus Medieval Museum.
Limassol District Archaeological Museum
Kaningos-Vyronos Corner, near the Public Gardens Tel: (05) 330132
Interesting collection of antiquities found in the Limassol area from the Neolithic Age to the Roman Period.
Folk Art Museum
This very beautiful collection of Cypriot Folk Art of the 19th and early 20th century is housed in a restored old house. The collection includes national costumes, tapestry, embroidery e.t.c., displayed in a very interesting way.
14 km west of Limassol on the road to Paphos.
A fine example of military architecture originally constructed in the 13th century, and subsequently rebuilt in the form it is now, in the middle of the 15th century. It served first as the Grand Commandery of the Knights Templar, and after the fall of Acre in 1291 for some years, as the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
14 km west of Limassol, 4 km before Kourion site, at Episkopi village.
Collection of finds, from nearby archaeological sites, housed in a beautiful old house.
19 km west of Limassol on the road to Paphos.
An important ancient city kingdom, and one of the most interesting and spectacular archaeological sites on the island with excavations still bringing new treasures to light. The magnificent Graeco-Roman Theatre was originally built in the 2nd century BC and enlarged in the 2nd century AD. It is now fully restored and used for musical and theatrical performances. The House of Eustolios was originally a private villa, and in the early Christian period became a public recreation centre. It consists of a complex of Baths and a number of rooms with beautiful 5th century AD mosaic floors.
The Early Christian Basilica dated to the 5th century was probably the Cathedral of Kourion with a baptistery attached to the north side. The House of Achilles and the House of the Gladiators have beautiful mosaic floors. The Nymphaeum dedicated to water nymphs is still under excavation by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.
The Stadium lies a km to the west on the right side of the road to Paphos, and is dated to the 2nd century AD.
Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates
3 km west of Kourion, on the road to Paphos.
Apollo Hylates, God of the Woodland, was the protector of the city of Kourion. Archaeological evidence shows that the cult of Apollo was celebrated here from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Part of the temple has been restored, with the cella, the colonnade and the pediment.
11 km east of Limassol (town centre), close to Amathus Hotel.
One of the ancient city Kingdoms of Cyprus where according to legend, Theseus left the pregnant Ariadne to be taken care of, after his battle with the Minotaur. There was a very important cult of Aphrodite-Astarte here. Excavations are still continuing at the Acropolis and Agora area of the ancient site. Numerous tombs have been found, one of them can be visited in front of the Amathus Beach Hotel.
Ayios Georgios Alamanou Conven
Off the Nicosia-Limassol road, 19 km from Limassol.
Originally founded in the 12th century. The nuns, besides performing their religious rites, spend their time in icon painting, and the cultivation of flowers and herbs.
Limassol Municipal Art Gallery
28th October Street, Tel +(357) 25343212