Larnaca is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and it is the modern tourist gateway to Cyprus. Find out more about its attractions below.

Larnaca is the third largest town in Cyprus after Nicosia and Limassol and has a population of around 100,000.

The local economy is largely geared towards tourism and is home to the island's main international airport, offering many visitors their first taste of Cyprus.

One of Larnaca's most distinctive features is the mid-town seaside promenade lined with tall palm trees and a project to improve the area around the promenade - known as the Finikoudhes - and turn it into a large precinct bordered by tavernas and a sandy beach was recently completed. Nearby is the Larnaca marina, one of the few shelters for yachts on the island (though several new ones are currently under construction in other towns). Palm trees and minarets which dot the horizon also give Larnaca a Middle Eastern atmosphere, particularly within the old inner city.

The advantages of Larnaca as a tourist resort are numerous: it is large enough to provide all amenities without being overcrowded, especially on its beautiful beaches which extend for 25kms. The archaeological sites and its six museums are in the centre of the city within walking distance. Summer sports, sea activities and cruises are readily available. Shops are well stocked, medical care is excellent, cinemas are screen films simultaneously with the cinemas of Europe and the USA. The variety of restaurants, cafes and bars is enormous. Try the Cyprus "meze" which is a food specialty of Larnaca. Night life is interesting and security in the streets is unsurpassed. Cultural life is rich and many events are organized by the town's municipality almost daily.

Hala Sultan Tekesi in LarnacaOne of the first sights upon arrival in Larnaca is the beautiful salt lake, home in the cooler months to colonies of graceful flamingos and other migratory birds. Over 10,000 flamingos arrive during the months of January and February. The salt lake quickly dries out by July and has a thick glistening salt crust nearly 10cm thick. Larnaca Salt Lake has always been the important commercially, and it is still referred to as Aliki - the Greek word for salt. A local legend tells how the area used to be filled with luscious vines and one day, Saint Lazarus {Patron Saint of Larnaca} was so thirsty he stopped and asked for some grapes. The owner told him that there were no grapes and the saint was so incensed he changed the vineyard into a salt lake!

Beside the salt lake, in a tranquil setting crowned by lush palms, is the Hala Sultan Tekesi which was built to honour the aunt of the Prophet Mohammed who accompanied the Arab invaders of Cyprus in 694AD but died after falling from a mule near Larnaca. Her shrine, the third holiest in the Moslem world after Mecca and Medina is today this wonderfully peaceful sanctuary.

Kition in Larnaca was once home to the philosopher Zeno who founded the School of Stoicism in Athens and also Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead. Lazarus later became Bishop of Larnaca and his empty tomb can be seen in the crypt in the Church of St. Lazarus.

There is a causeway between the main Larnaca Salt Lake and smaller pools which leads to the village of Kiti with its famous church - the Panagia Angeloktisti (meaning ‘built by the angels) which is famous for its mosaics.

History of Larnaca

Larnaca dates back to the Bronze Age, with the Mycenaeans colonizing it in the 13th century B.C. After this time it became commercially important with the Phoenicians in the 9th century B.C. Attacked by the Greeks in 450 B.C, Larnaca did not enjoy prosperity during Roman times and was destroyed by fire in 250 B.C and later with fire by the Arabs in the 7th century A.D.

Under the Turks the city became an important trading centre again and became “Larnaca”, taking its name from the Greek funeral urns…”larnax”…which were spread all over its territory. During the 17th and 18th centuries Larnaca became commercial again with foreign consuls and the British later leased Cyprus from Turkey in 1878. In 1960 Cyprus became an independent republic.

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