Larnaca is the third largest city in Cyprus after Nicosia and Limassol. Its name is derived from the Greek larnax, meaning 'funerary urn', due to the many tombs under its soil. Much of the city overlays the ancient site Kition, which was founded by the Mycenaeans in the 13th century BC.
This unique city embodies the old and the new. I have chosen five sites/areas of interest which can be visited in a day and for those who have more time, the ruins of ancient Kition could also be added to the list.
1. Larnaca Castle
The site dates back to the 14th century, when a fort was built by King James I of Cyprus. The Ottomans then rebuilt the castle in 1625 after landing at Larnaca and establishing the port as the base for their fleet. The castle was used later in the 20th century as a prison and police station under British rule. The small museum on the upper floor portrays artefacts from the Early Christian period (4th - 7th century), as well as replicas of mediaeval sgraffito pottery. Other utensils and weapons from the 15th -19th centuries are also displayed.
2. Church of St Lazarus
This late-9th century church is named for Lazarus of Bethany, who was raised from the dead by the Lord in John 11. According to tradition, a tomb bearing the inscription, "Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ" was found in Larnaca in 890. The remains were transferred to Constantinople and the church was built on the site.
While the place of Lazarus' second death is disputed, we are confident that the New Testament account of his first death is reliable. The story of Lazarus reveals the depth of the Lord's compassion for the bereaved and how death deeply vexed His spirit ('Jesus wept' John 11:35). His power and authority over death are demonstrated as He calls for Lazarus to come out of the grave. This triumphant miracle brought glory to God and assures believers that death is not the end.
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
3. Finikoudes - Beach and Promenade
This Palm tree promenade stretches along the beach from the marina to the castle. Finikoudes Beach is known for its clear waters and wide range of facilities, with cafés and restaurants across the street.
4. Old Town
The old town has charming, narrow streets with Cypriot style coffee shops and restaurants in various nooks and crannies. Local Cypriot food can be sampled in the tavernas in a relaxed ambience.
The Turkish Quarter - Skala
This was traditionally the Turkish area of Larnaca with a flourishing cottage industry, including pottery and crafts. A selection of quaint studios and workshops can still be found along the labyrinth of winding streets.
5. Salt Lake
Southwest of Larnaca lies the Salt Lake, the second largest in Cyprus. Visitors can see the famous pink flamingos and other migrating birds between November and March. The lake dries up in summer and forms a crust of salt, but the salt is no longer harvested as salt is now imported.
The 18th-century Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque overlooks the lake and is built near a late Bronze Age settlement.
Enjoy a day in Larnaca and tell me about your experience!