When you pause to think of the ideal Mediterranean idyll, it would very possibly include a sense of antiquity, landscapes laced with olive trees and cliff s and smiling locals who love life…and it would very possibly be Cyprus.
At the crossroads of the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus offers a diverse range of geography and the chance for the traveller to experience 10,000 years of living cultural history, all in a comparatively small area.
Though a part of Europe, Cyprus lives and breathes a heritage that could only come from being at the centre of so much world history for so many centuries… Neolithic sites…evocative sanctuaries to Aphrodite…Roman villas with ornate mosaic floors…city walls erected by Venetians…Cyprus has all of this and a plethora of native treasures and traditions, too.
Within the space of a single day, passengers who arrive at port in Cyprus can take in a number of historical and natural attractions, from the Lemesos Medieval Fort to Kolossi Castle, a Crusader fortress, and the stunning Greco-Roman theatre of Kourion. In the west, the birthplace of Aphrodite and lively Pafos with its Roman mosaics and wealth of archaeological sites. Inland, the Troodos Mountains are home to winemaking villages.
Cyprus is strategically located at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa and only an overnight sailing away from the ports of Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and the nearest Greek island of Rhodes.
The 35th latitudinal parallel traverses Cyprus which lies at latitude 34A33’-35A’ North and longitude 32A 16’ –34A 37’ East. Cyprus with a population of 760,000 is a modern island nation that retains as essentially Mediterranean character. Its 9,251 square kilometres (3,572 square miles) encompass citrus and olive groves, pine forested mountains reaching heights of 1950 meters (6400 feet) and some of Europe’s cleanest beaches. The island has a mild, typically Mediterranean climate, with abundant warm sunshine and little rain.
Abundant copper in antiquity put small Cyprus on the map. In fact Cyprus (Kypros in greek) gave copper its Latin name, cuprum. It was in the late Bronze Age, 1600 – 1050 BC, that Mycenaean Greeks came to Cyprus,integrating with the indigenous population. Trade links were established with Egypt and the Aegean islands.
The archaeological record bears witness to a profusion of cults and temples from this time, one of the biggest being, that of Aphrodite. According to myth, the ancient goddess of love and beauty was born in Cyprus at the shore (you can visit the site on the way to Pafos, a seaside boulder called Petra tou Romiou).
While Greek is an official language in the Republic of Cyprus, English is spoken by nearly everyone (Cyprus was under British dominion from 1878 until independence in 1960). The road network is modern and extensive. Road signs are usually in Greek and English and driving is on the leﬅ . The currency of Cyprus is the Euro (€).
Credit cards are widely accepted and there are ATMs in all major towns and many villages.
Nature trails, Byzantine monasteries and painted churches. It won’t take long to see and appreciate all the diversity that Cyprus has to offer. In less than an hour, travellers can go from alpine peaks, where it’s pleasant even in the height of summer, to seaside. And the fun there ranges from swimming in water that reaches temperatures of 27 degrees Celcius (84 degrees F) to sailing, diving, and of course cruising.
And as the easternmost island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is also a natural point of departure for exploring this amazingly diverse region.