This summer, you are joining throngs of fellow holidaymakers as they descend upon the island nation of Cyprus in search of some divine Mediterranean sunshine. Unlike some of your contemporaries however, you are far more interested in the nations that you touch down in than they seem to be.
Lying on a beach doesn’t satisfy you fully beyond the first few days of blissful lounging, after which your built in curiosity about how other people live (and have lived in the past) kicks in. To this end, while you have planned holidays to Larnaca for the whole family, you have taken to the web to search for interesting historic and cultural attractions and other activities to satisfy you once your inevitable bout of restlessness sets in halfway through your trip.
To this end, we have identified a few things in the Larnaca area that will captivate you far beyond your initial expectations. Let’s talk about them below…
1) Church of St. Lazarus
Being an Orthodox church that was founded in the 9th century, the Church of St. Lazarus is impressive enough on its own physical merits, as it largely survived last last 1,000 years intact, save for a recent fire, and the demolition of the original bell tower when the Ottomans took over in the late 16th century.
However, this place holds far more significance to those who hold Christianity as their principal faith, as the church is built around the tomb of the noted biblical figure Lazarus, who was reputedly raised from the dead in the Gospel. He had moved to Cyprus to escape threats against his life back in Judea, and was subsequently named bishop of the Larnaca region, where he died again after 30 years, this time for good. After several hundred years passed, Orthodox Christians decided to build a church around his grave, where it allegedly still exists today.
2) Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque
Being within the sphere of influence of the Islamic World as well, Larnaca has a mosque that also holds a high degree of importance to this major world religion. The Hala Sultan Tekke mosque is said to be home to the final resting place of Umm Haram, the foster mother and wet nurse of the prophet Mohammed. Sitting on the shores of the Larnaca salt lake, flocks of flamigos regularly gather here, so those wishing to capture a photo of this unique bird in its natural environment should remain alert when in the area.
3) Wreck of the Zenobia
Those possessing their diving certification will want to pencil in an excursion to the wreck of the Zenobia, a car ferry that sank more than thirty years ago in the early 1980’s. It sits in very shallow water, with the top of the wreck only 18 meters beneath the surface, making it accessible to PADI Advanced Open Water divers. Those with more experience will not have much further to go than that with the deepest portions of the wreck at 42 meters below the surface of the water. Many cars and trucks siting within the holds have been left intact, making for a fascinating (if a little spooky) exploration.
Larnaca: combining idyllic beaches with iconic history
Many people pan popular beach resorts, decrying them for their lack of connection to the host nation’s history and culture. If some of these folks are in your party, or if … er, you are one of them, then you will find Larnaca to be more than an acceptable compromise.
One last thing: are you excited to get to this intriguing corner of Cyprus, but you don’t even know where to begin to get to this charming town? There are many trusted travel providers (Thomas Cook counting among them) that will get you there without a drop of sweat on your part. You’ll be free to sit back and envision the thousands of years of history that you will get to touch within mere weeks, without worrying about the confusing logistics of travel.