Larnaca - Abbey Travel, Ireland


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Welcome to Larnaca


Larnaca is the international gateway to Cyprus, thanks to its busy international airport and seaport. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and has plenty of historical sightseeing on offer to complement its deep-blue sea, bright sandy beaches and reliably sunny skies. The city was called Kition in the days of the Old Testament and the ruins of the ancient city can still be seen. Much of its rich archaeological heritage has been preserved and is showcased in two of its main museums. The surrounding area beyond the city is also a treasure-trove of historic ruins from the Neolithic period onwards.

With its 400-berth marina, Larnaca is also a favoured destination for visitors with yachts. Land-based tourists enjoy the palm-lined harbour promenade and the city's international calibre shops, inviting cafes and panoramic ocean views. Larnaca is renowned for its high-quality silverwork and lace, and 'Larnaca Lace' is among the most popular souvenirs from Cyprus.

Information & Facts


Larnaca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with abundant sunshine year round. Long dry summers and mild winters are separated by short autumn and spring seasons. Summer is a time of high temperatures with cloudless skies, but the sea breeze creates a pleasant atmosphere in the coastal areas. Winters are mild, with some rain and snow on Troodos Mountains.

The majority of Cypriots speak Greek, and a small percentage speaks Turkish. The Greek Cypriot dialect differs from mainland Greece. English, German and French are spoken in tourist areas.

The currency was changed to the Euro (EUR) on 1 January 2008. Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments. Money and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks, open from Monday to Friday. There are ATMs spread throughout the island, operating 24 hours a day.

GMT +2 (GMT +3 from the last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

In the northwest of Larnaca are some of the ruins of ancient Kition, featuring the remains of five temples dating back to the 13th century BC. Of particular interest is the Phoenician Temple of Astarte, which was built on the ruins of an earlier Bronze Age temple. The lower part of the northern city walls, built of huge stones resembling Mycenaean cyclopean walls, are also still visible. Wooden walkways allow visitors a view of the excavation areas where many important artefacts have been discovered.

About 20 miles (32km) from Larnaca on the Lefkosia-Lemesos road, archaeological excavations have revealed one of the oldest Neolithic sites on Cyprus, dating to 7000 BC. Choirokoitia (also known as Khirokitia) was home to primitive farmers who cultivated wheat and barley. Visitors can explore the settlement's defensive wall, circular houses and tombs. The site is close to the dry Maroni riverbed atop a hill that was once covered in dense vegetation. It was first excavated in 1934, but excavations by French archaeologists are continuing. Four of the beehive-shaped houses made of mud and stone have been reconstructed to show how these early farmers lived. Most of the archaeological finds from Choirokoitia are displayed in the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia.

The 9th-century church devoted to St Lazarus that stands in Larnaca is an important religious institution on Cyprus. Lazarus is believed to have lived at ancient Kition for 30 years after his resurrection by Jesus Christ, and was ordained Bishop of Kition by Saints Barnabas and Mark. The Church was built by the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI above what was believed to be the empty grave of Lazarus, whose final resting place is in Marseilles, France. Eight days before the Greek Orthodox Easter each year the Baroque wood-carved icon of Saint Lazarus normally stored in the church is carried in a procession through the streets of the town.

Within walking distance of the town centre is the modern Larnaca District Museum, which contains an interesting collection of antiquities found in the Larnaca area, dating from the Neolithic to the Roman periods. Well-lit displays feature archaeological finds from Kition, including a ceramic collection with alabaster vases, tools, coins and lamps. Wall cases hold diverse pieces like faience scarabs, limestone seals, bone implements and engraved stone blocks. The museum is open daily.

This fascinating and well-stocked museum is housed in the upper level of the Larnaca fort on the city's seafront. The fort was built in 1625 and was used as a prison during the early years of British rule. One of the most popular attractions in Larnaca, the fort also operates as the Larnaca Municipal Cultural Centre during the summer and hosts local cultural events.

This beautiful village in the Troodos hills in the west of Larnaca District is famous for its handmade lace, known as lefkaritika. The village of Lefkara, which actually consists of an upper and lower town section, is off the main Nicosia/Limassol highway and features cobbled streets and picturesque architecture. Groups of women sit in the narrow village streets working on their fine embroidery, as they have for centuries. The village is also known for its skilled silversmiths who produce fine filigree work, and there is a small Turkish Delight factory. A folklore museum in the town shows visitors what life was like on Cyprus a hundred years ago. The museum is sited in a restored house and exhibits the furniture and effects of a wealthy family of the time, local costumes and examples of the Lefkara lacework.

Perched on top of a solitary mountain, 25 miles (40km) from Larnaca and six miles (10km) off the Lefkosia-Lemesos Road, is the oldest monastery in Cyprus, founded in the 4th century by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. The monastery contains an important relic, a fragment of the Holy Cross. The monastery is only accessible to men; women are not allowed to enter.

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