seafront is vaguely reminiscent of the Continental promenade, with
its line of mature palms and its relaxed air of sleepy charm. Cafes
and tavernas line the area near the sea, making this a popular spot
with visitors and Cypriots alike during the long summer. Nearby
is the Marina, frequented
by yachtsmen from all over the world. At the western end of the
promenade is the town's l7th century fort, which now houses the
Larnaca Mediaeval Museum.
As the home of the
island's main international airport, Larnaca offers many visitors
their first taste of Cyprus. One of the first sights is the beautiful
salt lake, home in the cooler months to colonies of graceful flamingos
and other migratory birds. Beside the lake, in a tranquil setting
crowned by lush palms, is the Hala Sultan Tekesi, built to the memory
of Prophet Mohammed's aunt.
with Christianity go back to the very beginning for the town's first
bishop was none other than Ayios Lazaros, who chose to live his
`second life' there after Jesus had raised him from the dead. A
church built in his name exists on the spot where his remains where
said to be found.
Archaeological Museum and the Pierides Foundation Museum exhibit
particularly interesting antiquities. The town's marble bust of
Zeno, after the philosopher who founded the famous Stoic School,
bears testimony to another famous son. Also of interest is the Church
of Ayia Faneromeni, built over a rock cave dating from the 8th century
B.C., and the l8th century aqueduct on the outskirts of Stavrovouni,
one of the oldest and most dramatically sited monasteries in Cyprus,
founded by Saint Helena, is within reach of Larnaca. Perched atop
a mountain it has stunning views in all directions. In accordance
with the strict monastic tradition observed by this particular order,
women are not allowed inside Stavrovouni Monastery.
Again within striking
distance of Larnaca, is the Church of Panagia Angeloktisti, which
houses the 6th century life size Byzantine mosaic of the Virgin
Mary - one of the finest in the world from this period. A visit
to the village of Lefkara, famed for the lace-like embroidery known
as `Lefkaritika' that was said to captivate Leonardo Da Vinci, is
also a treat. Further south, is the remarkable site of Chirokoitia,
where excavations have yielded one of the most important Neolithic
settlements found anywhere in the world.
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 center.
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 Noah's grandson Khittim founded the first settlement at
the spot. But the name Larnaca probably comes from the Greek word
"Larnaka", 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 Mycenaean Greeks
in the 13th century BC, when it enjoyed the dual position of rich
seaport and major center of the copper trade. Remains of that period
excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean walls and
a complex of Mycenaean temples at the ancient Kition site.
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 colorful fruit and vegetable market at the far
Larnaca is known
for its annual celebration of the Feast of Kataklysmos Greek Orthodox
Whit sun - which is an important holiday The occasion is marked
by enthusiastic water sports, feasting, singing and dancing.