Boasting a rich history that takes visitors back in time to the glorious ancient past, it’s little wonder that Cyprus is also home to a great number of fascinating museums bringing the past to life. Whether you’re fond of the natural world, have a passion for folk art or just love to gaze at an age old painting, the museums listed below should certainly prove inspiring, each providing a very different yet inspirational glimpse into days of old.
1. An archaeology lover’s haven: The Cyprus Museum
It’s one of the island’s most popular and well known museums for good reason: it’s not just the largest archaeological ‘treasure trove’ in Cyprus, but this place houses really fascinating artefacts discovered during a great number of excavations on the island that you quite simply won’t get to see anywhere else.
Photo: Athanasios Athanasiou
Prepare to be dazzled by a whole array of ancient items, ranging from tools and figurines from the Chalcolithic period, to jewellery and glorious statues from the Bronze Age.
Where? Museum Street, central Nicosia. Tel: (+357) 22-865854.
2. Journeying though Nicosia’s past: Leventis Museum
Right in the middle of the cobbled streets of Laiki Gitonia in Old Nicosia, you’ll be taken on a whirlwind journey through Nicosia’s colourful and intricate 6000-year history at the Leventis Museum.
Set out beautifully, there’s heaps of interesting info to sink your teeth into, with countless exhibits bringing the past to life in the most magnificent fashion, from old maps and medieval ceramics to embroidered lace, woven work, silver work and other photographic material. Be sure to also pop into the really lovely gift shop on the ground floor on your way out, to take home a beautiful keepsake.
Where? 17 Ippokratous Street, Laiki Geitonia, Old Nicosia. Tel: (+357) 22-671997/ (+357)22-2661475.
3. Medieval life in the spotlight: Medieval Museum of Cyprus (Limassol Castle)
Set right in the centre of the Limassol hub, this castle is said to have been erected on the spot where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191, crowning her Queen of England.
There’s plenty to take in here, housing the Cyprus Medieval Museum with exhibits which reflect the historical evolution of modern Cyprus, from its economic, social and cultural development, to the many customs and traditions of the island from the 3rd to the 18th century AD.
Where? Limassol Castle, near the old port. Tel: (+357) 25-305419
4. A young animal lover’s delight: Cyprus Museum of Natural History
Fish, birds, insects, corals, fossils…a visit to the Cyprus Museum of Natural History will take you back in time while bringing the flora, fauna and geology to Cyprus to life with more than 2.500 exhibits.
From stuffed mammals, to semiprecious stones and glorious seashells, the museum isn’t only dedicated to the natural history of the island in times past, but also aims to inspire a deeper love and interest in the study of nature, contributing to a collective effort to protect the environment in years to come. Kids are also bound to love the dinosaur park here!
Where? Photos Photiades Breweries, just outside Nicosia, off old Nicosia- Limassol road. Tel: (+357) 22-585834
5. Colourful folk art and culture: Municipal Museum of Folk Art
Some people aren’t even aware that this museum in the centre of Limassol even exists – housed within a lovely old mansion that used to be a municipal retirement home – but it’s well worth a visit if you have you’re passionate about culture, traditions and society as a whole.
Clothes, national costumes, woodwork, agricultural tools, jewellery, musical instruments: you name it, it’s all crammed into this rather fascinating place.
Where? The Folk Art Museum, 253 Ayios Andreas Street, Limassol. Tel: (+357) 25-362 303
5. For the avid car enthusiast: Cyprus Historic and Classic Motor Museum
Head down to this gem of a place and you can admire the museum’s eclectic collection of cars from the last century as the development and growth of the automobile industry is highlighted.
Keep your eyes peeled for the oldest car in the collection- a Ford “T” roadster from 1912. With a collection that includes brands such as Rolls Royce, Austin, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and many more, each vehicle is a star in its own right.
Where? 15 Demetri Papanikoli. Τel: 7000 9000.
6. A mythology lover’s paradise: Kouklia Museum, Sanctuary of Aphrodite
It’s the setting of this museum that makes it incredibly magical, with the Kouklia Archaeological site linked to the worship of the Goddess Aphrodite.
As history comes to life every step of the way, this museum is housed in the eastern wing of a Lusignian Medieval Manor House, and presents finds from the site itself and the area’s two cemeteries. You’ll be particularly impressed by the Roman mosaic on the floor of the first room, as well as a terracotta bath, stone tools, pottery, jewels and more, dating back to the 2nd millennium B.C. until Roman times.
Where? Kouklia village, Paphos district. Tel: (+357) 26-432155
7. The oenophile’s delight: Cyprus Wine Museum
Most of us know that Cyprus boasts a really long winemaking history, but few are actually familiar with the real ins and outs of wine production on the island and all the history and tradition linked with it.
This little wine museum in the sleepy village of Erimi in the winegrowing district of the island, is just the place to educate yourselves on the matter, taking you back through the centuries as you look at ancient jars and vases, medieval drinking vessels, old documents, and a variety of instruments that provide insight into all aspects of wine production.
Where? Erimi village, Limassol district. Tel: (+357) 25 – 873 808
Cover photo credit: Leventis Museum