Facts about Cyprus

Area: 9,251 sq km
Capital: Nicosia
Language: Greek, Turkish
Currency: Euro
  Turkish Lira
Population: 784,301
Coastline: 648 sq km

Home > General Info > Cities > Larnaca


Larnaca, or Larnaka, is a city on the southeast coast of Cyprus. The major international airport of Cyprus is located in this city. In ancient times, Larnaca was known as Kition or Citium. The biblical name Kittim, though derived from Citium, was in fact used quite generally for Cyprus as a whole, and occasionally by the Hebrews for the Greeks and Romans.

Larnaca is set in wide bay facing Lebanon which has strong links to the past. The earliest remains go back to the Mycenean age (ca 1400-1100 BCE) and seem to mark an Aegean colony, but in historic times Citium was the chief centre of Phoenician influence in Cyprus. That this was still a recent settlement in the 7th century is suggested by an allusion in a list of the allies of Assurbanipal of Assyria in 668 BCE to a King Damusu (Damasos) of Karti-hadasti (Phoenician "new city"), where Citium would be expected. (The same ten kings appear in an earlier list of Asarhaddon's 673/2 BCE, which might simply have been copied by Assurbanipal's scribes.) A Phoenician dedication to Baal, dated also to the 7th century, suggests that Citium may have belonged to Tyre . The discovery here of an official monument of Sargon II suggests that Citium was the administrative centre of Cyprus during the Assyrian protectorate (709 - 668 BCE). During the Ionian Greek revolts of the 4th century BCE Citium led the side that was loyal to Persia and was besieged by an Athenian force in 449 BC.

Like other cities of Cyprus, it has repeatedly suffered from earthquakes. In medieval times when its harbour silted up (a sign that the island was deforested and overgrazed) the population moved to Larnaca, on the open seafront further south. The harbour and citadel have now disappeared. Traces remain of the circuit wall, and of a sanctuary with copious terra-cotta offerings. The large cemetery has yielded constant loot to illicit excavation for more than a century.

The whole district of Larnaca has something special to offer to the visitor, including Choirocoitia, the oldest Neolithic settlement on the island, Stavrovouni Monastery and the famous church of Angeloktisti. Although very much a working city; the palm-lined waterfront promenade, ancient fort and historic quarter imbue Larnaca with a distinct antique flavour. Today the city is a relaxed place well-loved for its easy going attitude and friendly people.

Modern Larnaca is a bustling town with its own international airport, yet it has somehow managed to retain a good deal of historic Levantine charm. Tourism is beginning to catch on in a big way and hotels and resort-complexes are springing up on the outskirts of the town. The nearby beaches aren’t the best that Cyprus has to offer, but they improve markedly along the coast; making Larnaca a good base for exploring the island. Larnaca’s nightlife is also growing and the town centre corrals together an enviable collection of bars, cafes and tavernas.

Larnaca's main tourist attraction is the nearby mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke, which draws pilgrims from across the Moslem world. The mosque is located next to a salt-lake southwest of the city and both can be visited in a day-trip. Heading out of town towards Limassol takes you into the green foothills of the Troodos Mountains, while to the west the frenetic charms of Ayia Napa await. Scuba divers are in for a treat in the shape of the Zenobia, a passenger ferry which sank in 1983 and is now rated as one of the world's top ten wrecks.

One of the oldest, continually-inhabited cities in the world, Larnaka flourishes with sights. Nearby is an 18th-century aqueduct, and two wonderful museums - the Pierides Foundation and the Larnaka District Archaeological Museum. Both contain exceptional examples of Mediterranean art.

Larnaca Photo Gallery

Historical Places in Larnaca

Museums in Larnaca

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