Cyprus is a small mythological island located in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey. The third-largest island in the Mediterranean, it is known for its rugged interior, beautiful beaches and long, sometimes turbulent history spanning 10000 years. Having gained independence from the UK in 1960 the two populations, the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, clashed in 1974. The end results being the Turkish Cypriots occupying the northern and eastern part of the island close to Turkey, which in 1983 was declared the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. There is now a peacekeeping force operating on the island and a small buffer zone all controlled by the UN. Fortunately, hostilities have eased and both ethnic groups are working towards reunification of some sorts.
Thankfully Cyprus is more than its turbulent past. The island has a large range of diversity from the infamous party town of Ayia Napa, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paphos, and Larnaca, one of Europes top diving sites. But there is more to Cyprus other than its tourist hotspots and we’ve brought you five, different things to do in Cyprus.
Nicosia International Airport
Once the main airport in Cyprus, Nicosia International Airport has now sat unused and derelict for near on forty years. The airport was abandoned after a military coup in 1974. A demilitarized zone was created and the airport was smack bang in the middle of it, which caused the airport to close immediately. Since its closure, the airport has sat abandoned, left to the elements and pigeons to take over.
Holy Monastery of St Nicholas of the Cats
The Monastery of St Nicholas was founded in 327 AD by Kalokeros, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, and patronized by St Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. Legend has it during the time of construction the area of Akrotiri was under severe drought and became overrun with poisonous snakes, delaying the construction of the monastery. Helena’s solution was to ship in 1000 cats from Egypt to eradicate the snakes. Local monks trained the cats by ringing a bell once to come to the monastery for mealtime, and twice to head out to kill the snakes. The poisonous snakes were eventually killed off and the monastery completed, but many cats suffered from losing limbs, eyes or dying. Nowadays the monastery is run and looked after by six nuns, they also take care of the 70 plus resident cats and take in any strays from in and around the local area.
The Limassol Carnival
Renowned as one of the most notable carnivals worldwide, the Festival has been held annually in Limassol and begins twelve days before lent. The carnival brings together a unique blend of Ancient Greek and later traditions. The beginning of the carnival is believed to go back to pre-Christian times, to an Ancient Greek festival honoring Dionysus, the god of wine and fun. Present time, the colorful festival lasts ten days and includes games, feasting, carnival processions, and balls.
Cyprus is known worldwide for the wine they produce and the Vasilikon winery is no exception, it is one of the most famous wineries in Cyprus. Located in the Paphos region at an altitude of 650m, Vasilikon winery was established in 1993 by three brothers. The vineyard covers 16 hectares of land and produces around 350,000 bottles annually. They run a popular tour of the winery which ends with a tasting session of the award-winning local wine.
The Ancient Theatre of Kourion
Part of the Kourion archaeological site, the theatre of Kourion was excavated in the early to mid 19th century by the University of Pennsylvania. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Cyprus and has become very popular among tourists. Originally built in the 2nd century BC and was used for a number of things including gladiatorial games, and is still being used today for various events.