Larnaca The Promenade, Ancient Forts and Historic Quarters

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Larnaca mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke

Although very much a working city; the palm lined waterfront promenade, ancient fort and historic quarter imbue Larnaca with a distinct antique flavour. Today the city is a relaxed place well loved for its easy going attitude and friendly people.

Dubbed Kition in classical times Larnaca first entered the history books as the birthplace of the Stoic philosopher Zeno. A few hundred years later Lazarus decided to settle here (post resurrection) and became Larnaca’s first bishop and the city’s patron saint. Arab raids in the seventh century forced the citizens inland and the city into decline and it wasn’t until the end of the Middle Ages that its fortunes revived. Under the Ottomans Larnaca became the island’s premiere port and commercial hub, only to be eclipsed by Limassol and Famagusta in the middle of the 20th century.

Modern Larnaca is a bustling town with its own international airport, yet it has somehow managed to retain a good deal of historic Levantine charm. Tourism is beginning to catch on in a big way and hotels and resort complexes are springing up on the outskirts of the town. The nearby beaches aren’t the best that Cyprus has to offer, but they improve markedly along the coast; making Larnaca a good base for exploring the island. Larnaca’s nightlife is also on the up and the town centre corrals together an enviable collection of bars, cafes and tavernas.

Larnaca lacks the polish of other Cypriot resorts and often gets branded as ‘shabby’ or ‘dilapidated’ by guidebook writers. Despite, or perhaps because of this, the city has a charmingly laid back attitude. Larnaca’s main tourist attraction is the nearby mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke, which draws pilgrims from across the Moslem world. Other highlights of Larnaca are teh Archaeological Museum, the church of St Lazarus and the Turkish Fort. The mosque is located next to a salt lake southwest of the city and both can be visited in a day trip. Heading out of town towards Limassol takes you into the verdant foothills of the Troodos Mountains, while to the west the frenetic charms of Ayia Napa await. Scuba divers are in for a treat in the shape of the Zenobia, a passenger ferry which sank in 1983 and is now rated as one of the world’s top ten wrecks.