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Cruise Diary: Larnaca, Cyprus

Guests Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’ve just received these wonderful posts. We’ll catch up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!

This was our first ever stop in Cyprus. Not sure if you all know this, but Cyprus is a divided country – part Greek and part Turkey. Very interesting!

Cyprus was named in antiquity for its rich copper deposits (‘Cyprus’ means ‘copper’). Even though all Cypriots have valid claim to their homeland, an age-old dispute keeps the island divided. Tensions heightened when Britain installed Cyprus as a Crown Colony in 1925 and again 35 years later, when the island won independence, 1974. In 1974, a Greek-backed coup was answered with an intensive Turkish invasion. A line was drawn and Northern Cyprus remains under Turksish control. The rest of the island is independent, but, closely allied with Greece. It is also an EU member state. Britain retains a few bits of sovereign territory – namely two naval bases, one near Limassol and the other on the west coast.

Cypriots enjoy a high living standard. Annual per capita income for the nearly 800,000 citizens compares with other Western European nations. Residents live long, and housing is excellent. Crime rate is low, and health care and educational standards rank high in international comparisons. Culturally, the islanders represent a rich blend of Middle Eastern and European influences.

St. Lazarus, first Bishop of Larnaca was the city’s most famous son. The 10th century Church of St. Lazarus at the city centre was built atop the saint’s tomb and the holy place is one of the finest Cypriot examples of Byzantine architecture. Larnaca was built on top of the ancient city-state of Kition, a rich sea port and Phoenician fortress. Ruins of the older city’s Cyclopean walls and a complex of detailed 12th-century BC Mycenaean-style Greek temples can still be seen.

So, we took a tour called: Nicosia: the Divided Capital. This took us out into the countryside about an hour and a half drive into the middle of the island to the city of Nicosia. First we went to St. Johns Greek Orthodox church and museum. This was very interesting. Going back to the bus we came across some young school children who proudly sang a Good Morning song to us in English.

Children Singing

Children singing.

As the name, Nicosia, the Divided Capital, implies, this was the capital and sits on the dividing line between Greece Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus. When we got there, we got out of the bus and had a walking tour for about an hour. This was interesting – thru many narrow little streets lined with shops, etc. We came to a plaza into which many streets came. One of them we then walked down which was called the Green Line. It had symbols in the road depicting the dividing line between the two countries in the olden days. We stayed in the Greek side and walked to the end where we saw the gate thru which you would enter Turkish Cyprus. We walked thru “no man’s land” and up to the passport check point but didn’t go thru into the Turkish section.

As you can see from the photos, walking down the Green Line road was interesting – a huge British department store (7 floors), many of the U.S. fast food restaurants, and of course, Starbucks (all over the world now). All in all we had a very nice day.

Mosque in Turkish, Cyprus

Mosque in Turkish, Cyprus

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