Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol & Paphos: a comparison of Cyprus’ main cities

Each city of Cyprus in its own way is beautiful and unusual. Nicosia is the capital, and the only remaining European city divided by a border. Limassol is a cosmopolitan city on the coast which is the islands second largest city, and is where language students typical study due to the Erasmus base. Limassol also has a large Russian influence. Larnaca has the largest airport of the country, and Paphos is notorious for having an older population due to being where many choose to spend their retirement years.

This is because of favourable property prices and pleasant year-round climate, especially for UK expats. Paphos is also close to the birthplace of Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite and has been voted the European Capital of Culture for 2017.

Nicosia, which in Greek is pronounced “Lefkosia” is the capital and the largest city of Cyprus, geographically speaking, and half is located in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Located in the centre of the island, it is approximately an hour’s drive from the beach and seafront, and is therefore better known for its industrial, commercial and business district.

Nicosia houses the main warehouses of the textile, leather and food industries, as well as where the copper mines are located. Additionally, Nicosia is where the islands highest ranked University is located: the University of Cyprus. Despite being the centre of urban life, there are also other attractions. There is a Gothic-style cathedral from the 13th-14th century; including 16th century fortification Venetian walls with eleven bastions, some of which belong to the Greeks, with one being currently administered by the United Nations. Due to being the capital, typically well-known brand names open restaurants and stores here first, making Nicosia a popular centre for shopping and nightlife, as well as being the focus of museums and galleries for those more interested in culture.

In contrast to modern Nicosia, Paphos is the ancient capital of Cyprus. Here the Apostle Paul preached the word of God in 51 BC. In the city lived a well-known Orator Mark Tullius Cicero, who was the Proconsul of Cyprus. Paphos is also considered to be the birthplace of Aphrodite; according to myths, the Greek goddess of love came out of the sea foam on the beach of Petra tou Romiou (directly translated to Rock of the Greek), also known as Aphrodite’s Rock; is only 15 kilometres drive east. Many of the attractions in Paphos are associated with the name of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess: the Rock of Aphrodite, the Temple of Aphrodite in Kuklia, the Bath of Aphrodite, even the Fountain of Love in Latchi.

Although it is far from ancient times: the royal tombs, the mosaic in the villa of Theseus, the catacombs of Saint Solomon; it is for this reason  no less that Paphos became the first city to be made an official UNESCO protected site. In addition to the cultural heritage, Paphos has also been voted the 2017 European Capital of Culture which recognises more modern cultural achievements as opposed to historical. Formerly a famous trading port in ancient times, the modern Paphos has become a mooring dock for many private yachts and boats. The city operates the largest Cyprus international airport.

Larnaca takes the title of the most ancient city in Cyprus. Archaeological finds indicate that the city even existed 6000 years ago. Larnaca is famous for being where Saint Lazarus was resurrected from the dead. Here he was buried, and in the place of his grave a temple was built, where his remains are kept. Apparently the city got its name as a result of this, as Larnaca translates roughly to “tomb.”

Limassol is a coastal city located in the middle of Paphos, Nicosia and Larnaca. This is the most populated city in Cyprus: about 280,000 people live here. Limassol is located between all the main sights, for good reason its name means “middle city” due to the positioning of the city on the island. Life here is bustling year round due to its stretching coastal views and the high number of schools and universities. The high student populous means that the nightlife is great with many options for different style bars and alfresco drinks. The old town is the most popular area amongst tourists for its Greek style buildings; many have been restored with their original features. Limassol also has the highest population of Russian residents out of all the cities; meaning that it was later coined the “little Russia” of Cyprus.


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