10 Top Tourist Attractions in Cyprus

Martina Rosado
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Kourion

The Kourion Amphitheater is in the center of the ancient city of Kourion. The cave-like structure provides room for extraordinary events, like religious celebrations and funerals. Additionally, it is one of the most important archaeological monuments in Cyprus and offers visitors a unique insight into the island’s history.

It is believed that the site is one of the oldest ever to be discovered in Cyprus and dates back to the Middle Bronze Age. It was used as a deity worship site along with a summer and winter festival. Today, the surrounding area has become a protected site and the monument is open to visitors.

Kourion was the capital of Cyprus during the time of the Roman Empire. In Roman times, there were three conventional sizes of amphitheatres. The Kourion Amphitheater is the only one remaining, which was made under the rule of Cicero and is considered to be one of the best preserved of its kind from the reign of the Roman Empire.

The central apse of the amphitheater dates back to the 3rd century BC. It is constructed using clay and stone. As such, the structure is well-preserved today and even though it is somewhat damaged, the stone elements of the structural framework are easy to see.

Kolossi Castle

The name Kolossi has been mentioned quite often in literature. During the Ionian city states period, it was occupied by a major Cretan power, the Minoans.

Periods of Roman, Venetian and Turkish occupation followed. The castle which you see today, was built in the 15th century by the Venetians. Ongoing building activity throughout the centuries have resulted in the ruins we see today.

The fortress which exists today at Kolossi is probably not the original castle from which the name originates. If you look closely at the castle walls, you will see the remains of a Christian chapel inside.

The walls surrounding the castle are impressive. In addition to the walls, there are deep defensive moats once filled with water. The castle itself is composed of four towers and gateways and a number of smaller buildings.

The view of the Mediterranean from the top of the castle is beautiful. At the top of the castle, there are also a number of minaret-like towers which were used as watchtowers.

Omodos Village

Omodos used to be a small village but since the 1970's it's turned into a large tourist attraction spread out over several thousands of acres. The whole thing has been nominated for Unesco world heritage site status and is a popular spot for British people looking for a cheap holiday and sunbathing tourists from all over the world paint the place in the relaxed spring sun.

There are lots of lovely houses, perfect for holidaying in the sun all over the area, and lots of local people selling refreshments to visitors. These people are (mis) guided by the White Knight Team, a well funded team of local people that hand out flyers. The White Knight Team are paid up to the amount that they bring in. This is great in theory but most members are very lazy. It's much more effective to go for a wander in the village and find the vendors yourself!

Omodos village's beauty is one of the world's first, hand-fashioned designed village where all the shops and houses have been pre-fabricated in Athens, transported to the island, and then carefully set in the ground. You have to visit – it's a lovely place and is definitely worth dropping by.

Zenobia Wreck Diving

Limassol.

This shipwreck has been on the seabed for over 2,000 years and is part of the cultural heritage of the island. The Zenobia was an elegant large merchant vessel that, with the bulk of her crew, sank on its way to Rome while carrying a cargo of marble.

With an underwater depth of about 40 metres, the Zenobia wreck is an exciting place to visit for divers. Additionally the depth of the wreck makes it accessible to snorkelers.

When you come here, you will see the remains of the ship, as they rest in the sandy seabed. It is situated between two hotels. The topography of the wreck is quite strange for divers and snorkellers as the hull is lying upside down at a depth of around 30 metres.

The area surrounding the wreck offers many possibilities for those who enjoy nature. It includes two reefs with many colourful fish. The nearby reef is fairly shallow and is a wonderful location for snorkelling.

The dive centre and underwater landscape are wonderful and the dive and snorkelling tanks are very well-maintained. There are two restaurants at the site as well as a few bathroom facilities for customers and the staff.

Tomb of the Kings

Located north of Nicosia on a steep cliff below an old Byzantine castle, this is the tomb of two of the three Assyrian kings who ruled Cyprus from the 8th to the 7th centuries BC.

The first king, Lago, was buried here in the 7th century BC. His son, Sargon II, was the second king to lie in a golden coffin under a bright sheet of glass, willed to be buried on Cyprus by his father. Sargon II, now one of our most famous Assyrian kings, was known for launching a huge naval show of power and expanding his territories many times beyond the empire’s regular borders.

Lagash, the son of Sargon II, was the most important king of the dynasty who is said to have built one of the largest palaces in the world. His daughter, Noama, who is buried in a tomb nearby, is the most famous of all the Assyrian queens and the sister of Ashurbanipal, the greatest of all Assyrian kings.

Noama’s tomb is the most impressive of all the Assyrian queens that are buried in Cyprus. It is a very simple sarcophagus of baked clay with the face of a young woman carved on the lid. Her coffin is a long limestone block, which is covered by a mound of limestone sandy soil that has been heavily decorated in turquoise blue and yellow.

Nissi Beach

Nissi Beach is on the south west coast of Cyprus at the tip of the Larnaca Bay. It boasts the island’s most beautiful and most exclusive beach for swimming. The beach is located near the village of Larnaca.

It can be reached by heading south from Larnaca on the main A6 the main road between Famagusta and Larnaca and exit 21. At Nissi bonfire you turn right towards the sea just after the village of “Nanas”, and follow the signposts; there are signs in English throughout the area.

The beach faces towards the east and is of an oblong shape. To the north is Nissi castle on a promontory, to the north west is an interesting spring and to the south is a triangular bay which is quite narrow.

The name Nissi is Christian in origin from the Greek word “nissos,” meaning “nest” or “nestling.” This is the same as that at the turquoise pool in Pissouri.

It was used to describe the baby Jesus in the Christian bible.

St. Hilarion Castle

St. Hilarion Castle, also called St. Hilarion Monastery, together with the surrounding ruins are located in the Limassol area of Cyprus and was built in around 1203.

The sheer size of the castle along with the ruins that surround it gives you an idea as to the magnitude of the fort and the people who once inhabited here. One of the biggest attractions at the castle today is the Shrine of St. Hilarion, which contains the skull of the saint, a large collection of that saint’s relics and a range of other religious items.

The castle was extensively looted and pillaged during the Fourth Crusade. This destruction is the reason that it is known today as one of the most destroyed castles on the island.

St. Hilarion Castle is one of the largest castles on the island and is one of the most photographed locations in the country.

Agios Lazaros Church

Agios Lazaros church is one of the most important religious and archaeological places in Cyprus. It is situated in the Limassol region of Greece. It stands on the coast of Limassol, facing the Turkish coast and the island of Kythnos. The church was built during the time of Catholicos Zachariah I, father of the legendary Saint John. Although the exact year is unknown, it is estimated that the basic structure of the church was completed in 1184.

The building consists of a square building and a dome that was added during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The church was once important and dominant due to the its architectural style and sacred rituals held there. A pilgrimage was held every year to the church for over a thousand years up until 1924.

The church was purchased by the government in 1921, and in 1924 excavations began there under the guidance of Prof. Athanasios S. Drosos. The church has been under restoration since its purchase until today it is open for tourists.

Kykkos Monastery

It is a complex of monasteries and churches in the Famagusta district of Cyprus. It was built over a period of two centuries in the medieval period. The site has many Byzantine buildings dating from the period of 1252 – 1571, when Famagusta was under Venetian rule. It lies on the coast, on a small peninsula.

The church of Saint Nicholas was built by Isaakios of Cyprus and was reconstructed by Patriarch Germanos II in 1652. Isaakios was its first abbot. The church was renamed after the monastery of Kykkos and became known as the Kykkos Monastery. The church of St. Mary was built by the Venetians in 1528, and constitutes the largest church on the peninsula.

Paphos Archaeological Park

The archaeological park of Pafos is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and it is one of the main tourist attractions of Cyprus. The archaeological park is located in the site of Pafos and houses the remains of a Bronze Age palace (Halmyros Palace), an ancient town (ancient city) of Pafos with numerous public and sacred buildings, and an Orphanage.

More than a dozen museums, art galleries and archaeological sites comprise the archaeological park, which is approximately 64,000 m² in size, which is much larger than the Old City of Jerusalem. The archaeological park of Pafos is not only popular with tourists, but among academics, historians, or archaeologists from the world!

Most of the archaeological sites are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can find more information about the park on their official site.