Cyprus may be a small island, but one of the things that makes the country very special is its long colourful past, steeped in history and culture every step of the way. And with this in mind, My Cyprus Insider sheds light on some of the most interesting facts that we think you’ll love. Read on!
1. The whole of Paphos is a UNESCO world heritage site
Often likened to an open history book, history buffs are certainly spoilt for choice, with the Paphos Mosaics, Tombs of the Kings, Sanctuary of Aphrodite and other special sites taking you on a whirlwind journey back into the past.
2. Cyprus is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world
Yes, that’s right! With a wine history spanning over 5000 years, the sweet Commandaria actually takes pride of place as one of the oldest wines in the world still in production. And today, there are over 50 wineries dotted around the island where you can taste what was once hailed ‘the gift of the gods’.
3. Leonardo Da Vinci is reputed to have visited Lefkara village to buy lace in 1481
With the gorgeous lace of Lefkara included on UNESCO’s representative List of Intangible Culture Heritage, it is reputed that the famous Italian painter, Leonardo Da Vinci, visited the village to purchase lace here for the main alter of the Duomo di Milano.
4. Ayia Napa was covered in a thick forest, with ‘Napa’ standing as the ancient Greek word for ‘wooded valley’
It may be a tourist haven these days, known for its buzzing nightlife and white sand beaches, but years ago, Ayia Napa was nothing more than woodland. The area was in fact uninhabited, and visited only by hunters from neighbourhood villages!
5. Greater Nicosia is the only part of Cyprus that has been inhabited continually since the Bronze Age
Boasting a history that goes back 2500 years, when the first inhabitants settled in the fertile plain of Mesaoria, Nicosia is rather special among Cyprus Bronze Age sites as it thrived and developed, while others ceased to exist.
6. Chirokitia is famed as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the Eastern Mediterranean
Standing as the remains of the very first recorded permanent housing on the island high on a looming hillside just off the Nicosia- Limassol highway, officially in the Larnaca district, the distinctly marked out cylindrical stone and mud dwellings constitute an extremely impressive example of the initial establishment of sedentary communities on the island and the development of an original civilisation: the Cypriot Aceramic Neolithic.
7. Cyprus’ beaches have been continuously named the cleanest in Europe for the past decade
A total of 64 local coastlines received the Blue Flag certification in 2016!
8. Cyprus’ famous halloumi cheese dates back to the Medieval Byzantine period
Every foodies dream, the salty cheese – that’s now famous the world over – was first made in the Byzantine period with a mix of cow’s and goat’s milk. Local cuisine has never been the same!
9. Cyprus’ capital of Nicosia was officially named Ledra in Ancient Times
During the first millennium B.C Ledra comprised one of the twelve city-kingdoms of ancient Cyprus built by the Achaeans after the end of the Trojan War. But it was actually not as prominent as other kingdoms, like Paphos and Salamis, most of which laid on the coastline.
10. The world’s oldest perfume in the world was discovered in Cyprus
It was a team of Italian archaeologists who unearthed the treasures in 2007, found in Pyrgos. Dating back more than 4000 years, the perfumes were scented with extracts of lavender, bay, rosemary, pine and coriander and kept in tiny translucent bottles. The archaeologists also found mixing bowls and funnels with the perfume bottles, which had been covered in earth following an earthquake around 1850 BC.