CITY GUIDE: Larnaka
Most travellers visiting Cyprus first lay eyes on Larnaka as it is home to the island’s main international airport and its second largest port.
Located along the southeast coast, Larnaka is regularly frequented by tourists throughout the year due to its sandy beaches, varying boutiques, inviting cafes and restaurants, bustling nightlife, museums and historical attractions.
Originally called Kition in the days of the Old Testament, Larnaka is one of the oldest, continually-inhabited cities in the world and abounds with sights such as the Saint Lazarus Church. Named after Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, the church has been built over his tomb which can be visited by tourists entering the church.
Other religious landmarks within the city include Phaneromeni Church and Hala Sultan Tekke, the latter of which is a Muslim shrine dedicated to Umm Haram, who was the Islamic Prophet Muhammad’s wet nurse. Located along the picturesque shores of Larnaka Salt Lake, the mosque is widely regarded as the third holiest place for Muslims globally. Its home, Larnaka Salt Lake, is equally impressive as it welcomes countless species of water birds numbering in their thousands, its main attraction being pink flamingos. Migrating from Africa these beautiful birds spend the winter months there feeding off brine shrimp also breed on this protected wetland. According to legend, as to where the lake gets its salt from, Saint Lazarus requested food and drink from an old woman who refused claiming that her vines had dried up. Lazarus replied: “May your vines be dry and be a salt lake forever more.”
Larnaka Castle, Kamares Aqueduct and numerous little villages add more beauty to Larnaka’s charm. Lefkara is arguably the most famous where this enchanting village dazzled the world-famous Leonardo da Vinci who purchased an altar cloth. ‘Lefkaritita’, traditional lace and filigree silverware, are its greatest product and know the world over. Another enchanting village – Kiti, contains Angeloktisti Church which houses some of the island’s finest pieces of Byzantine art including rare 6th century pieces.
For those seeking a modern twist, Foinikoudes Promenade, situated along Athenon Avenou on the seafront stretches seemingly never endingly with rows of palm trees lined up on either side and many cafes, restaurants and bars frequented by locals and tourists throughout the year.