The Island of Cyprus: It’s Uniqueness in the World

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 Located just 7 miles off the southern Turkish coast is the island of Cyprus. It is unique in the world in that it’s capital city, Nicosia, Cyprus’s largest city is the only capital city in the world that is the capital of two countries. Since the Turks invaded the country in 1974 under the pretext of protecting the Cypriot Turks from the Cypriot Greeks during an attempted coup, the northern and southern half of the island have been divided with Nicosia being at the center of the dividing point. To pass from the Greek side to the Turkish side tourists need to present a passport and obtain a Turkish visa.

Cruise ships visiting the island use the southern Greek port of Limassol, which is the second largest city in Cyprus and has been inhabited from ancient times dating back to 2000 BC. It is best known for its prominence during the events surround the Crusades. Richard the Lionhearted took English control of Cyprus during the Crusades. In fact he married Berengaria of Navarre just outside of Limassol at the Castle of Limassol which was restored during the 19th century.

Image our surprise when we visited the more famous Castle of Kolossi just outside of Limassol and found a modern day Greek Cypriot wedding taking place. The original Castle of Kolossi was build during the Crusades by the martial Order of Hospitallers of Jerusalem in the early 1200′s and then after the Hospitallers lost in Acre in 1291 they transferred their base of operations to Kolossi in 1301. In the early 1400′s an earthquake destroyed the and the current version of the Castle was completed in 1454.

But the most spectacular runes found outside Limassol were build much early starting in 325 BC and continuing with additions by the Romans from the 1st century AD through the 7th century AD. These are in the ancient city-kingsom of Kourion which was founded by the ancient Argives, who were inhabitants of ancient Argos in the Peloponnese. It is believed that Kourion flourished until the time of Alexander the Great when he abolished it along with many other city states.

The Theatre was likely build in the 2nd century BC. It could seat up to 3000 people and has been reconstructed in recent years.

Nearby is the House of Eustolius which was build during the early Roman period and was remodeld during the 3rd and 4th century BC. It is a grand Roman house overlooking the sea with the style of a classic grand Roman villa of the times. Lovingly restrore over the past few years its important mosaic floors are preserved and there are inscriptions which show the connections to both paganism and the new religion of Christianity.

While one could spend all day exploring the many additional monuments that have been unearthed at Kourion it is would be negligent not to venture the 1/2 mile northeast on the site to the Agora (market). It is magnificent and its settling is special overlooking the rock cliffs along the ocean north of Limassol.


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