Ancient and Medieval Cyprus

Day 1

Arrival and check in at the hotel.

Day 2

A visit to Kolossi Castle, a monument that provides a vivid reminder of the days of Frankish feudalism, gets things underway. A mere stroll around the premises cannot fail to evoke scenes of Lusignan chivalric life. On to Kourion next, an archaeological site whose significance is difficult to overstate. Founded by Peloponnesian settlers from Argos (according to Herodotus), it features a splendid amphitheater that overlooks the sea–the perfect setting for a brief presentation by program coordinator Solomos Orphanos that puts the site in historical perspective, and offers an excellent opportunity to experience the structure’s exceptional acoustics. The tour continues with visits to a Paleochristian Basilica, the Stadium and the imposing Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. Next stop, the remains of one of the most notable kingdoms of ancient Cyprus at Amathus. At Armenochori, a traditional feast awaits visitors at Saint Epictetus, a local tavern. In its relaxing confines visitors will get to hear from program organizer Solomos Orphanos on two related topics: “The History of Cyprus in pre-Byzantine Times” and “Places of worship and their significance in the ancient city”. Some much needed rest, recreation and dinner back at the hotel bring the day to a close.

Day 3

The day kicks off with an 8:30 am departure for the village of Kouklia in Palaepaphos (Old Paphos) to visit the place of worship of Aphrodite, a site that dates from the Chalcolithic Age (3900-2500 BC). The artifacts recovered at the site include offerings by worshippers who believed in her power to affect fertility, many of them displayed at the Palaepaphos Archaeological Museum. Program organizer Solomos Orphanos will deliver an enlightening talk on the representations and worshipping practices related to the goddess in her native land. Next up, a visit to the seaside Paphos Medieval Castle, before a meal at one of the nearby restaurants. The tour continues with another archaeological site of signal importance, Nea Paphos (New Paphos), a city founded by King Nicocles. An important note: since 1980 both Nea Paphos and Palaepaphos have been included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Among the noteworthy sections of Nea Paphos are the House of Dionysus, a luxurious edifice dating from the Roman period (2nd century BC) and built in the Hellenistic style; the House of Orpheus; the House of Dionysus; the Mansion of Theseus; the Mansion of Aion; and the ancient Odeon. Visitors will get to relish the exquisite artistry of the mosaics that adorn all of these structures. Next on the day’s agenda, the Tombs of the Kings, followed by the Church of Panagia Chrysopolitissa, a structure dating from the thirteenth century on whose grounds is said to stand the actual pillar on which the Apostle Paul was flogged, in an incident that predates the Roman Proconsul Paulus Sergius’ conversion to christianity. On the way back to Limassol, an obligatory stop at Petra tou Romiou for its stunning sunset views. Wrapping up the day with rest, recreation and dinner back at the hotel.

Day 4

An early morning visit to the Limassol Archaeological Museum, which houses exhibits from the Limassol region covering a period bookended by the tenth millennium BC and the end of the Roman period. Afterwards, a leisurely stroll around the town, with some shopping thrown in, will come to a temporary stop at the Limassol Castle which houses a museum dedicated to Cyprus’ medieval period. The stroll continues in the direction of the Limassol Marina for a meal and some well-deserved relaxation. The day ends back at the hotel with rest, dinner and recreation.

Day 5

The day begins with an 8:30 am departure for the Nicosia Archaeological Museum, which features an extensive collection of sculptures, ceramics, jewelry and other artifacts recovered at sites throughout the island. Next stop, the Archbishop’s Palace and its many points of interest including Saint John’s Cathedral, the Byazntine Museum and the Folk Art Museum. Moving along, the Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios Mansion is next, and a brief presentation by program coordinator Solomos Orphanos on Nicosia’s medieval period. A refreshing break with snacks and beverages at one of Nicosia’s numerous cafes comes before a stop at the Leventis Municipal Museum. The day continues with a short drive up to ancient Idalion, the epicenter of a cult of Adonis. At the local museum program coordinator Solomos Orphanos will illuminate visitors on the history and significance of the archaeological findings that deal with aspects of the relationship between Aphrodite and Adonis with the aid of audiovisual materials. A few sites left to see as the tour winds down: the Metropolitan Church of Panagia Evangelistria, a structure with cementless joints; then, the Saint Mamas Chapel, located northwest of Dali on the road that leads to Potamia, a gothic building dating from the turn of the sixteenth century; final stop, a chapel dedicated to Saint Demetrianos Andriotis, who lived in the times of the Arab raids (seventh-tenth century BC) and is believed by the faithful to have had healing powers even as a young boy–the chapel was renovated in the thirteenth century. Rest and dinner back at the hotel in Limassol bring a busy day to a close.

Day 6

The day begins with an early departure to Larnaca to visit the Kition archaeological site for a tour of the ancient city that will trace the steps of the ancient Phoenicians and finish at the ancient harbor. A brief pause before program director Solomos Orphanos delivers a presentation entitled, “Cyprus’ ancient ports: trade and relations between neighboring peoples”. Next up, a visit to the Larnaca Archaeological Museum and the City Castle, a stone’s throw away from the remains of the ancient harbor. Then, on to  the Church of Saint Lazarus, who left Palestine for Cyprus following his resurrection, according to some reports, and became the first Bishop of Kition; the original temple (it has been rebuilt several times) is thought to have been erected on top of Saint Lazarus’ tomb. A short coffee break at Finikoudes Beach is up next, before a trip to the Pierides Museum, by which time visitors will have certainly worked up quite an appetite for the  delicious meal that awaits them. After the meal, a visit to a Muslim holy site, the Hala Sultan Tekke, located just outside Larnaca. According to musllm lore (in an echo of the Saint Lazarus legend) the mosque was built over a tomb belonging to Umm Haram, foster mother to the Prophet Mohammed. One more historical monument left for the day, the Church of Panagia Angeloktisti, an eleventh century construction containing a famous mosaic of the Virgin Mary that is renowned for its intricate design–a unique relic of the palaeochristian world. The day ends with rest and dinner back at the hotel.

Day 7

Rest day. Optional short cruise from Limassol to Larnaca or Limassol to Paphos, with food and refreshments on board.

Day 8

Visitors will be shuttled to the airport.

Note: Changes could be made to the program–before or during the visit–in order to accommodate any special needs and requests, provided the local holiday calendar allows it. 

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