Cyprus [in Greek: Κύπρος – kipros], officially the Republic of Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, with a rich, turbulent history stretching back to antiquity. A story past 10,000 years long has seen civilizations come and go, from Alexander the Great to Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, who stake their claim here.
The Island of Beauty
Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love was born here. According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite was born when Uranus, the father of the gods, was castrated by his son Cronus. The severed genitals where then thrown into the ocean which began to churn and foam. From the “aphros” (‘sea foam’) arose Aphrodite (hence her name, meaning ‘foam-arisen’) and the girl floated ashore on a scallop shell. This iconic representation of Aphrodite as a mature “Venus rising from the sea” (Venus Anadyomene) was made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder.
Limassol (Greek: Λεμεσός) is a city on the southern coast of Cyprus and capital of the district with the same name. Limassol is the second largest urban area in Cyprus after Nicosia, and has been ranked by TripAdvisor as the 3rd up-and-coming destination in the world. Limassol was built between two ancient Greek cities, Amathus and Kourion, and during Byzantine rule it was known as Neapolis (new town). Limassol’s historical centre is located around its medieval Limassol Castle and the Old Port. Today the city spreads along the Mediterranean coast and has extended much farther than the castle and port, with its suburbs stretching along the coast to Amathus.
Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus; a status it has enjoyed for 1000 years since the 10th century, though its beginnings date back 5000 years to the Bronze Age. It lies roughly in the centre of the island in the Mesaoria Plain, flanked by the beautiful northern range of Kyrenia Mountains with its distinctive ‘Pentadaktylos’ – the five finger mountain. There are various suggestions as to the origin of the name Nicosia – or ‘Lefkosia’ In Greek – but the most likely one is linked to the popular tree, the tall ‘Lefki‘ which once adorned the city.