Larnaka, city with many faces!
When in Larnaka, you can choose from a big range of options this city has to offer. Whether you want to visit historical places, enjoy a day at blue flag beaches, stroll around traditional villages and taste traditional dishes or relax at the city’s numerous beach bars and coffee shops, Larnaka accommodates something for every taste. Here is some information to guide you through your stay in Larnaka.
Information about the city
Tourism in Larnaka
The advantages of Larnaka as a tourist resort are numerous. The town is large enough to give everything one may need but still is not overcrowded especially at its beautiful beaches which extend for 25 kilometers. The archaeological sites and its six museums are in the center of the city within walking distance. Summer sports, sea activities and cruises are readily available. The shops are well stocked, medical care is excellent, its cinemas are screening films simultaneously with the cinemas of Europe and the USA. The variety of restaurants, tavernas, cafeterias and bars is very great. The Cyprus "meze" is the food specialty of the town. Night life is interesting and security in the streets unsurpassed. Cultural life is rich and many events are organized by the town's Municipality almost daily.
Because of the mild climate in the winter and the genuine hospitality of the local people, Larnaka enjoys tourism at very high occupancy rates all the year round. Larnaka with its wider area has 9.500 hotel beds, about 10% of the total all island tourist capacity. Along the Larnaka bay there are luxurious beach hotels as also hotel apartments or holiday apartments of very high standards a prices generally lower from the rest of the island. Larnaka being in the center of the country is the ideal base for exploring the rest of Cyprus. Its international airport lies a few kilometers from the center of the town and still the town is completely outside the cone of landing and departing aircraft.
History of Larnaka
Larnaka is the oldest living city of Cyprus, founded 6000 years ago. It was originally known as Kition, or Kittium. A legend sais that the first settlement at the spot was founded by Noah's grandson Khittim. Unlike other ancient cities of Cyprus, which were abandoned by their inhabitants, Larnaka has existed and still exists on the same site. Being in the crossroad of civilization from the early dawn of history, Larnaka has attracted many visitors. Some came as colonizers, others as traders and others as invaders, conquerors or tourists.
The Kition City Kingdom was established by the Mycenean Greeks in the 13th century BC when it enjoyed the dual position of a rich port and a major centre of the copper trade. Remains of that period excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean walls and a complex of Mycenean temples. The very well preserved fortified port and shipyards are of a later period. Larnaka is the birthplace of the Stoic philosopher Zenon who taught in Athens in the 4th century BC. The Byzantine period of Larnaka is of great importance. It left many interesting monuments, among them the 9th century AD Basilica of Saint Lazarus. The town regained its standing during Ottoman rule when it became the diplomatic and commercial center of Cyprus. It was here that the British landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island that was ended in 1960. The recent history of the town follows the very fast development of all of the country. In 1973 the population of Larnaka was 22.000. In 1974 Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish army displaced by force about 200.000 Greek-Cypriots, the inhabitants of its Northern part. Larnaka received and welcomed over 40.000 refugees, thus tripling its population overnight, now at 65.000.
Exploring Larnaka Region
Historical places and museums
Church of St. Lazarus
This magnificent Orthodox Church was built in the town over the tomb of St. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. He died here and was buried in the church named after him. In 890 A.D. his tomb was found bearing the inscription "Lazarus the friend of Christ". The marble sarcophagus can be seen inside the church under the Holy of Holies.
Angeloktisti stands for the church that has been “built by angels”. This 11th Century building is at Kiti, a village 7 miles south of Larnaka. The Byzantine mosaic of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the central apse is considered to be the finest in Cyprus. Some of the icons are also magnificent. The church is certainly worth visiting for the mosaic alone.
Hala Sultan Tekke
The fourth holiest place in the Muslim world is about 5 kilometers west of Larnaka, on the banks of the Salt Lake. It is equivalent to the Christian "monastery". Within the precincts of this Tekke is the tomb of Umm Haram, said to be the foster mother of Mohammed. According to Muslim tradition Umm Haram died on this spot in 647 A.D. while accompanying the Arab invaders. She was buried here and later the Ottomans built the present mosque in her honor.
Marble Bust of Zenon
At the crossroads near the American Academy stands the bust of Zenon . Zeno was born in Kition (ancient Larnaka) in 326 B.C. After studying philosophy in Athens, he founded the famous Stoic school or philosophy. The city of Larnaka is often referred to as “the city of Zenon”.
On the way to the airport you can find the underground chapel of Ayia Phaneromeni. It is a rock cavern with two chambers. The structure suggests that it once was a pagan tomb, possibly dating back to Phoenician times. The place is credited with various magical properties: thus those who suffer from headaches or other diseases walk three times round it and leave a piece of clothing or a tuft of their hair on the grill in front of the south window. It is also much frequented by girls, whose lovers are overseas, who come here to pray for their safety.
Ruins of the Ancient city of Kition
The earliest architectural remains date back to the 13th century B.C. The area was rebuilt by Archean Greeks. The remains of the Cyclopean Walls, made of giant blocks and the complex of the five temples, are particularly interesting.
Also known as "The Kamares", the old aqueduct stands outside the town, on the way to Limassol. It was built in Roman style in 1745 to carry water from a source about 6 miles south of Larnaka into the town. The aqueduct is illuminated at night.
Larnaka Medieval Castle
The castle was erected by the Turks in 1625. This fort is now a museum and its inner courtyard is used as an open air garden - theater during the summer months, by kind permission of the Director of Antiquities.
This monastery, about 15 miles west of Larnaka, stands on the peak of a striking lone mountain, over which St. Helena, the finder of the cross of Jesus, saw a strange light gleam. Taking it as a sign from heaven, she founded the monastery and left a piece of the Cross enshrined there.
Larnaka District Museum
The museum houses a rich collection of antiquities from Larnaka and its surrounding district.
It contains a unique collection of antiquities collected by four generations of the Pierides family.
Municipal Museum of Natural History of Larnaka
It is unique of its kind in Cyprus. Birds, animals reptiles, insects, fossils, rocks, species from the marine life and plants are exhibited there.
Larnaka Salt Lake
An area of exquisite natural beauty lies near Larnaka International Airport. It fills with water during the winter and it is visited by flocks of flamingos that stay here from November till the end of March. It dries up in the summer. It used to yield a good quality of salt which was scraped from its dried up surface. The salt from this lake is now considered unfit for human consumption.
Larnaka Palm Trees (“Phinikoudes”) Promenade
One of Larnaka’s most distinctive features is the lively seaside promenade, lined with tall palm trees. It is bordered by a sandy beach, plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and bars, the Medieval Castle and the Marina. It is the “heart” of Larnaka.
The largest Marina in Cyprus is located in Phinikoudes Promenade and it is a lovely place to enjoy a walk over the sea.
If you would like more information about Larnaka, we strongly recommend visiting Larnaka region informational website and Larnaka municipality official website. In addition, for a detailed information regarding local transportation please visit Zinonas Buses.