The city of Larnaca has a population of 72,000. The city is situated in the southeast part of the island and got its name from the many sarcophagi (‘larnakes’ in Greek) that were unearthed in the region. It hosts one of the two international airports of Cyprus and is a commercial, and educational centre and a tourism destination for those looking for a slower pace holiday. Larnaca is one of the oldest inhabited parts of the island. This is evident by the ruins at Choirokoitia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which dates to 9,000 B.C., as well as by the ruins of Ancient Kition (the biblical Kittim), which was originally built by Achaeans Greeks in the 13th century B.C. and became later a Phoenician colony. An important event in the history of the city was the arrival of St. Lazarus, who being persecuted in his homeland, found refuge in Larnaca; he became Larnaca’s first bishop. The city was destroyed by violent earthquakes in the 4th century A.D., and like the rest of the coastal cities, suffered the attacks of the Saracens. Larnaca is the birthplace of the stoic philosopher Zenon.
Larnaca is built over the ruins of ancient Kition. Excavations in Area II unearthed a large shrine that was dedicated to the Phoenician Goddess Astarte, as well as four small earlier temples that are connected to copper smelting workshops. If one really wants to know how old Cyprus is, one should visit the Pierides Foundation Archaeological Museum, the oldest private museum on the island which houses a collection of the most important and characteristic presentation of the civilization of Cyprus. The Church of Agios Lazarus is a magnificent Church which was built over the tomb of St. Lazarus whose marble sarcophagus can be seen inside the church under the Holy of Holies.
Hala Sultan Tekke is one of the most sacred Muslim sites and the burial site of Um Haran, the aunt of Prophet Mohammed. The mosque is situated at the end of Salt Lake (Aliki in Greek) from where salt was farmed during the Middle Ages; from November until the end of March the lake fills with water and is visited by flocks of flamingos. The Medieval Museum of Larnaca, which is located at the west end of the promenade, includes exhibits of findings from the area of Tekke, Larnaca and Αncient Kition and is used as a venue for events.
The impressive Kamares Aqueduct, which was built during the Ottoman rule to provide water to the city, is one of Larnaca’s most recognizable landmarks and is found on the Larnaca – Limassol road.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ancient Choirokoitia dates back to the 9,000 BC and is the oldest and best preserved settlement in the Eastern Mediterranean. The site is situated on the slope of a hill in the valley of the Maroni River and lies about 10.5 miles west of Larnaca.
Those who want to venture away from the city can visit Lefkara where they will see the women of the village sitting in front of their doorsteps embroidering the famous Lefkara laces, and will have the opportunity to visit the museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmithing.
Other options include a visit to Kalavassos Dam and Kalavasos Village where one can see the abandoned railway and train which served the copper mine until it closed down in 1965.
Aslo, a visit to Kato Drys will give the visitor the opportunity to travel back in time at the Rural Museum of Gabriel and Eleni and the Traditional Kamara House and Rural Museum.
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Larnaca Summer Festival: a festival of music, performing arts, film screenings and poetry. The festival takes place in July and the main venues are the courtyard of Medieval Castle and the Pattichion Municipal Amphitheatre. Larnaca Amateurs Artistic Creation: the festival takes place in November and features local amateur groups and performing artists including choirs, orchestras, dancing groups and theatrical societies; it is held at the Larnaca Municipal Theater. Larnaca Festival of Classical Music: the festival is held in April and includes performances of philharmonic orchestras, brass bands, room orchestras, quartets and classical singing by local and international artists. All events take place at the Larnaca Municipal Theater. Byzantine Days: an event of Byzantine ecclesiastical music; it is organized by the Larnaca Municipality and takes place at Agios Lazarus Church and the Larnaca Municipal Theatre.
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