The official Republic of Cyprus is the third most popular Island in the Mediterranean and there are plenty of reasons why! Despite its small size, there are a ton of things to do on this Island. Whether you’re there to explore the ancient Roman ruins, check out revolutionary art or grab something mouth-watering at one of their many restaurants, here are 5 other reasons you should visit Cyprus.
Your very first stop should be the Caledonia Falls in the Troodos Mountains. The name, Caledonia, derives from the beautiful swallow birds that are native to this location. Besides being able to look over the stunning crystal clear waters, you’ll be able to see a landscape that includes a mountain range in the distance. But the waterfalls in the Caledonia Falls are the real reason you’re in this area. This waterfall is the highest in Cyprus and has forest all around for you to hide away in.
While it’s popular during the summer because of its shade and water, it’s not a crowded location. This allows you to be relaxed and listen to the serene sounds of the wind and water. The walk to the waterfalls are roughly an hour and a half to two hours long, but totally worth it. The water wells in Cyprus are predicted to be the oldest in the world, dating back to around 10,000 years old. To know that many forms of life have stood where you have is a humbling and amazing experience!
The Kourion Theatre
Kourion is also known as Curias and was formerly a city in Cyprus in the Middle Ages. While it’s along the south shores of the Island and the sights are stunning, it’s believed that the ruins were damaged by a series of earthquakes that hit the area. Kourion has one of the most popular archaeological sites on the coast of Cyprus. Here, you’ll be able to visit museums that feature many antiques from the site as well as the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.
There is also history here that relates to Constantine the Great when there was a bishop tortured by a Roman Emperor. Once the Roman Emperor left his throne, the bishop lived and Constantine was put into place as their new leader. Now, there is a Catholic church in the Bishop of Curium’s honor.
This was first talked about in the Greek Orthodox menologium for the Roman emperor Licinius. The emperor Licinius was a very hateful man, often torturing and attacking people who didn’t share the same beliefs as him. He was ordered by the governor of Cappadocia to kill all of the Christians, which lead others to speculate about the torture of the bishop.
The Makronissos Tombs and Sea Caves
This free site features the Makronissos Tombs cut into rocks and are fully submerged into the grounds. But don’t worry, there are no bodies in these tombs! They are empty seat-like shapes cut into the hard stone. Besides the tombs, there are also sea caves that can be found at Makronissos Beach. These sea caves are called the Ayia Napa sea caves. But if you’re just looking to relax, this beach offers crystal clear waters and soft sandy beaches. There are no lifeguards on hand when you visit the sea caves, so you must explore at your own risk. The caves begin at sea level and go deep into the beautiful blue water. Embedded into the enormous rocks against the Cyprus coastline, this picturesque exploration route is a dream come true.
Some of the caves are not underwater, though. You’ll have to do some risky climbing in order to reach these. It’s a great way to rock climb, hike, and then take a dip in the clear waters.
Kato Paphos Tombs
But if you’re looking to see actual tombs, you may want to head to Kato Paphos. The Tombs of the Kings is an official UNESCO World heritage site and was primarily used in the Roman periods during BC and AD times. However, these tombs were reserved based on status, not by your royal title (if you had any at all). People who were placed here earned their title by their appearance and popularity. Talk about high school never ending, huh?
While there are only seven tombs, there is only one grand tomb that is underground with tunnels connecting to it. This is tomb number three and very different from the rest. We can only imagine how popular this former Grecian was, since the rest of the tombs were built into walls. Unfortunately, the artifacts in this tomb are limited as grave robbers scavenged it many, many centuries ago.
Being the largest archaeological museum in Cyprus, you can only imagine how much history is placed in this one location. At this museum, there are a whopping 14 display halls that feature themes and artifacts in chronological order. The artifacts in this museum are a product of the many excavations that have taken place on the island. While there are modern pieces in this museum that have been excavated, there are plenty of ancient artifacts from the Neolithic Period and the Roman period.
Established in 1882, this museum houses almost 200 years worth of excavation findings. Some of the items in their museum are ceramics, jewelry, lithics and varia. There are also a series of tombs documented in their museum and on their website that show what they have found there as well as a map of the excavated area. If you’re into archaeological prospects and Greek history, then this location is definitely on your list of places to visit!
If you’re interested in in learning more about the items that were excavated and the lifestyle of the people, there is a documentary from 2000 called, Greeks: Crucible of Civilization in which it documents ancient Greece from 500 B.C. until the fall of the empire. If you’re planning to watch it on the plane ride over or one of your off-days in Cyprus, you might have to unblock it since there are Internet restrictions there.
Cyprus is rich in ancient architecture, history and beaches. It is known for being a history hub and most of the items on this itinerary are inexpensive, if not free. It’s a great way to learn about history outside of a textbook and enjoy it!