Thursday, November 27, 2008

Environmental Activities of the Larnaka Municipality

The municipality of Larnaca is involved in many areas of environmental protection:-

By law it is directly is responsible for:-
• Household garbage collection.
• Hygienic disposal of town waste.
• Hygiene of food, restaurants, shops, tank water etc.
• Road and open space cleaning.
• Development of parks, green areas and town ecology.
• New responsibilities after accession in the E.U.

Takes care of ecological domains as partner in other organizations:-
• The Larnaca Sewerage Board.
• The Committee for the Protection of the Larnaka Salt Lakes.
• The Larnaca Board for the Recycling of Household Waste (still not ready under law)
• The Larnaca Lab for Pollution Watch.
• The Blue Flag program for the cleanliness of seawater.

Plans for better urban environment through municipal decisions for:-
• Traffic control.
• Town mobility
• Public Transport.
• Pedestrian streets and areas.

Uses its authority and influence to control polluters such as:-
• Larnaca International Airport.
• Petroleum Refinery
• Petrol depositing.
• Power plant of Dekelia.
• Local Industry
• Local work shops

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The new Mecca for Civil Ceremonies

It is not only Aphrodite with the myth of Eros that inspires magic to couples all over the world for civil marriages in Larnaca. It is much more. The short flights from Middle Eastern Airports and the availability of direct flights to Larnaca from many European Centers is one good reason to start with. Another is the fact that such easy solution for young couples in love is largely unavailable in Israel and in most Moslem countries. The good sunshine and the extreme hospitality of the people in a town resort for all seasons, seems to be another good reason why Larnaca attract so many other couples internationally.

To satisfy the growing demand for the victims of the arrows of Eros on the Island of the Goddess of Love, the Municipality of Larnaca has recently acquired a beautiful building near the Municipality, off Athens Avenue near the beautiful seafront palm trees road. Restored and renovated, this 19th century aristocratic urban mansion is to serve from now on the mission of civil ceremonies in Larnaca (Photos). The civil marriage department of the Municipality has its base there and can provide to the interested parties a fantastic lounge for the ceremony, ample space inside or outside the building for celebrating receptions and the photos of the newly married.

Last but most important is that the rest of the rooms of the Larnaca new Municipal building for Civil Ceremonies will be the only Museum in Cyprus featuring rare Cypriot collections of ancient jewels, silver and golden micro-items related to marriages and found in the city of Larnaca reflecting its 4000 years of continuous history.

Kamares, the Old Aqueduct of Larnaka

At the exit from Larnaka towards the Limassol highway you see the most grandiose arches (kamares) of the 16 kilometers long, 18th century aqueduct of Larnaka. For the adventurer the old aqueduct of Larnaka offers a tremendous challenge. Walking straight line from these 1st arches at about 2-3 kilometers you arrive at the 2nd arches and after a walk of almost the same distance, but having to pass the airport “by-pass highway” you arrive at the 3rd and lower in height arches. At this point you have to look for the old mill, which was working with the aqueduct’s water, and then for almost 9 kilometers up to the river, the water-channel becomes underground, but every 30 meters you can see the “visiting wells” of this unbelievable project, which channeled the water of river Tremithos to Larnaka till the 1930’s. Many researchers and historians believe that this tremendous public work existed since Roman times and that the Ottoman Bekir Pashia reconstructed the whole project in 1745 on the basis of the surviving facilities. This argument is supported by the fact that a similar in construction and materials water channel exist in the archaeological site of the ancient port at Kilkis Street and at many other spots in the city and these water channels remind Roman masonry as does at several points the main aqueduct line underground or over the ground.

Kimon Square and Seafront Stage

Kimon Square is in the middle of Athens Avenue, and was named in the 1920’s to honor Athenian General Kimon, who in the 5th century BC arrived here with 200 triremes to free Cyprus from Persian rule. He besieged Kition (Larnaka), which was the stronghold of the Persians and he defeated the Persian fleet in the nearby open sea. He died here before final victory and his army, according to ancient historians, buried him in Larnaka and the people of Kition honored him since. General Kimon’s bust is an artwork of an Athenian sculptor and was placed here in the 1920’s. Next to the bust the municipality of Larnaka constructed the open air “Seafront Stage” where all free of charge summer festivities of the town are taking place. Of special interest are the Cataclysm’s festivities of the Pentecost in early June, where the Square is visited by thousands of people from all over Cyprus.

Larnaka Marina and the Colonial Pier

Opposite the colonial buildings of Europe Square is the entrance of the Larnaka Marina, which was built in the early 1970’s all around the Colonial Pier, which was constructed by the British in 1879 to develop the facilities of the Larnaka port at that time. The walk on the Pier is a traditional social activity of the people of Larnaka and it is strongly recommended because it is the only place you can have a look at the Larnaka seafront from the side of the sea and at the same time enjoy the feeling of a real sea-town where activities are extended in the open sea. All organized mini cruises in the Larnaka Bay and to Ayia Napa and Protaras areas start from here and you can even choose a glass bottom boat to enjoy the deep, or you can chart your own yacht for a day cruise of your choice. Also, you can enjoy a submarine underwater mini cruise in the Larnaka Bay, which is full of smaller and bigger wrecks, the most famous being the Zenovia.

Europe Square

It is at the beginning of Athens Avenue and it is decorated with the first colonial buildings the British Administration built in Cyprus in 1879. It was the first year the British occupied the island and Larnaka was the biggest port and urban center of the island, so the housing of British colonial administration had to get started from here. The Colony’s Governor building, the chief Port Master house and office, the Chief Customs Officer residence and office, the colonial port warehouses are some of these old buildings now restored to accommodate the Paleontology museum, the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, the City-Museum and Archives and the District Administration of Larnaka. The restoration of the old colonial warehouses won the “Europa Nostra” award in 1996. The artistic composition “seagulls in flight” of sculptor Papagiannis was also placed in 1996, updating the area, and ‘Europe Square’ name was given by the Municipal Council to honor the European Union.

Palm Trees Promenade

One of the most pleasant entertainment seafront areas of the whole of Cyprus is the palm trees promenade or Athens Avenue in Larnaka. This beautiful avenue along a sandy beach on the popular seafront of the city accommodates some of the best hotels, cafes, pubs, clubs and restaurants in town. Along this famous “Phinicoudes” sandy beach of Larnaka, which is busy and friendly day and night summer, winter, springtime and fall, activity is a non-stop procedure, as the beach fans and swimmers mingle with the tourists visiting the museums, the historic buildings and all of them together with the locals enjoy the drinks, food and entertainment of the establishments and the free of charge walks on the promenade. Famous urban planner Angelos Demetriou designed the area in the early 1990’s and this new beautiful and pleasant municipal town project replaced the previous municipal setting of Mayors F. Zanettos and N. Kyriazis, who were also responsible for the plantation of the palm trees (phinicoudes) in the early 1920’s.

Larnaka Salt Lake

The first site of immense interest encountered upon arrival at the Larnaka international airport is the Larnaka salt lake. Its past as a natural habitat of sea life is traced 3 million years BC and fossil life of that age can be found in the surrounding hills. The central salt lake in prehistoric times was a gulf. From 1700 BC was a secure natural port in the service of the large prehistoric town next to Hala Sultan Tekke, which was abandoned by its population at about 1050 BC, at about the time the gulf was closed, the natural port was destroyed and the central salt lake was formed. As excavations in the area show, this is perhaps one of the first natural ports of Cyprus that facilitated trade between Cyprus and the great civilizations of the area at the birth of international seafaring exchanges. The porphyra - red dies using the juices of the murex-shells, which were in abundance in the gulf and until now in the Larnaka bay, was one of the important and expensive exports of this prehistoric town and of Kition, the nearby town that succeeded. Salt was another expensive prehistoric product of the lake, which was extremely exploited through the centuries till a few years ago. Historians of Hellenistic, Roman, Frankish and Ottoman times report the great quality of this salt and its great income due to the exports. But, the most interesting thing about the salt lake today is the migration of birds in winter. These bird migrations include flamingos, ducks, swans and tens of other flying species. Such a rich hunting place did not escape the attention of the ancient, who had at the shores of the salt lake one of the most famous temples of Atremis- paralia (Diana of the seafront) goddess of hunt. Hunting is no more allowed, but watching the birds, walking the interesting surroundings and enjoying the famous red sunsets of the spot are strongly recommended. In the wider salt lake area covering about 5 square kilometers there are actually 4 lakes of exceptional natural habitat looked after by the Committee for the Protection of the Larnaka Salt Lakes, which is authorized under a relative Cyprus Law.

The Larnaca Castle

At the end of Athens Avenue, you cannot miss the Larnaka Castle. The Byzantines founded a first fortification on the spot in the 12th century. But, the first written source about the castle is of the 14th century. Chronographer Florius Boustronius dates it during the years of Luzignian King James I (1382-1398AD), who built it to protect the harbor of the town. It is the time that the Genovese occupied Famagusta and the Luzignians had to develop another major port for the needs of their kingdom. It is recorded in 18th century sources that the castle was built by the Turks in 1625 AD, since it was in a semi-ruinous state at that time, even though a Turkish garrison was maintained there since 1570 AD. The English used it as a prison and place for execution of death convicts up to 1948.

Pambula and the ancient port (700BC – 300AD)

Behind the Larnaka District Museum on the Pambula hill, which is secluded by Kilkis and Kimonos Streets, excavations started in the 1930’s. Temples of Hercules and Aphrodite were firstly uncovered. In the 1970’s a French archaeological mission excavates every year the site as great discoveries were made here. The greatest is the ancient port of the city Kingdom of the classical years, which was found almost intact. This port is in a better condition that any other ancient man-made port ever discovered. Visits at the site are allowed only after permission of the Director of the Larnaka District Museum.

Prehistoric site near Hala Sultan Tekke

The largest prehistoric town of Cyprus was uncovered near the Hala Sultan Teke
by a Swedish archaeological mission. This discovery was made in the late 1970’s
and the excavations continued till the 1990’s. This prehistoric town had its port in
the central salt lake as it was then open to sea. The town lived from about
1700 BC to 1000 BC. The rich finds are displayed in the Nicosia and
Larnaka District Museums, but the site displays some very interesting stone built
wells and toilets, which are within the private houses of this advanced for its
times town. Visits are allowed only after an approval by the Director of the
Larnaka District Museum.

Ancient Kition (kathari)

This archaeological site on Pasicratous Street is one of the first sites that the Cyprus Department of Antiquities excavated after independence in the early 1960’s. It is here that it was clearly found that the Mycenaean Greeks arrived in Larnaka in the 13th century BC and the Phoenicians in the 9th. The site is the Temple area of the ancient city Kingdom of Kition. In the same area exist Egyptian style Temples of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, which are older than the Greek and served the eteocypriot (pre-Hellenic) population. Besides the Temples the archaeologists uncovered here the history of the cyclopean walls and the history of the copper metallurgy of the town. The site can be visited on a daily basis during working hours and the most interesting architectural remains are those of the Temple of Aphrodite – Astarte built by the same Phoenician masonry that built the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem the same period (9th century BC).

Medieval Museum

At the end of the palm trees promenade on Athens Av. and on the second floor of the Larnaka Castle (Tel.24304576) you can visit interesting museum collections of Early Christian period (4-7th centuries), Byzantine wall-paintings of the 11-16th centuries, Medieval glazed pottery from the 12-18th century, helmets and swords of the Venetian period (15-16th century), metal cooking utensils of the Ottoman period (18-19th century). In the open yard of this castle, which accommodates a 600 seat open-air theatre, a collection of Ottoman canons is also in display.

City Museum and Archives

This municipal museum is housed in the restored residence and office of the first colonial Port Master of Larnaka built in 1881 (Tel.24657745). On the ground floor operate the City museum with exhibits emphasizing the long, glorious and uninterrupted history of the town. A large collection of the city’s coins minted in the local mint starting with the first coin of the city Kingdom of Kition of the late 6th century and a fabulous collection of city’s photographs through the years starting with one of the year 1850 are among the most interesting exhibits. On the second floor operate the city’s archives, which are open only for the researchers as they include rare books, editions and documents.

Museum of Paleontology

On Europe Square and in the old colonial style Customs warehouse operates the Pierides – Tornarides museum of Paleontology (Tel.24629333). This is the only museum of its kind in Cyprus and houses a unique collection of fossil life covering 500 million years. Among the rare local exhibits there are bones from pygmy elephants and hippopotamus, which ceased to exist on the island only around the year 10.000 B.C.

Larnaca District Archaeological Museum

Situated at Parides Square (ex Kalogreon) (Tel.24304169), this government museum house a collection of archaeological finds from the Larnaka town and District. It includes exhibits of Neolithic times, Copper Era, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Besides the large collection of local made pieces it also displays some unique items found in the Larnaka area, but they are of Egyptian, Mycenaean, Phoenician, Assyrian and Persian origin or have been imported from some of the other great nearby civilizations of antiquity.

Pierides Foundation Museum

On Zenonos Kitieos street No.4 (Tel. 24814555) the Pierides museum exhibits a fascinating private collection of Cypriot antiquities acquired over the years from 1839 by five generations of the Pierides family, one of the most well known families of Larnaka. It is housed on an old family mansion house built in 1840. It includes exhibits from the Neolithic times, Copper Era, Mycenaean, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian and Ottoman periods. This unique museum covers 9000 years of Cypriot art.

Other Places of Worship

In Larnaka you can worship your God, no matter a Christian Anglican, Armenian, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox or Moslem. The Anglican worship at St. Helena’s church at Ag. Elenis Street (tel 24622327), the Armenians at Saint Stefan’s church, Armenian Church Street (tel. 24654435), the Evangelists at Apostolidou-Lenas Street (tel.24657057, 24652331), the Catholics at Terra Santa church (tel.24652858), Orthodox in the numerous Orthodox churches in town, which have regular Services every Sunday 8-9+30am. The Moslems can worship at the historical Beyuk Mosque, Ankara Street, opposite the Larnaka Castle, which is also open for prayers on a regular and daily basis.

Panayia Phaneromeni

A small elegant church of the early 20th century devoted to Virgin Mary on
Phaneromeni Avenue. The present structure has replaced a medieval church on the same spot. The cave underneath served as an early Christian church. This cave was originally a royal monolithic tomb of the town’s prehistoric times, probably Mycenaean Greek. Today a larger Church is built near the older to serve the expanding community of the parish.

St. Joseph’s Convent and Catholic Church “St. Joseph de l’ Apparition”

French emigrants in Cyprus (Conde Brunoni family) founded the convent and the church in 1844. With a beautiful Latin architecture its history and style impose on the nearby Parides Square. The sisters of this French Convent have a long history of philanthropic
services and an invaluable contribution in the education of the city’s young girls, as the convent’s secondary school for girls operated from 1845 till the late 1980’s. The convent was famous for its hospital, which was started by Doctor Joseph Irenee Foblant and sister Sophie Ghambon in the late 19th century and successfully operated till 1922. In front of the church there is a small metal monument devoted by the town to sister Ghambon for her invaluable services.

Franciscan Convent of Terra Santa

This is the church of the Latin community in Larnaka. Franciscan monk Callixte Martel founded the church and the convent in 1596 mainly for hosting Latin pilgrims to the Holy Land. In 1724 another bigger church and convent replaced the first, which were demolished again in 1842 to be replaced by the present church structures. The convent is also known as Santa Maria delle Grazie and its Latin style is one of the best in Cyprus with Renaissance and baroque characteristics. It is on Apostole Mathieu Street, at a short distance from Chrysopolitissa church. The Terra Santa church and its catholic nuns of Italian origin have a long tradition of philanthropic services to the community of the town. They are now running a home for the elder built at the place of the 19th century convent in 1970.

Panayia Chrysopolitissa

Its foundation goes back in the Byzantine times, when a source of the Kition Bishopric mentions its existence in the 12th and 13th centuries. Writings from the archives of the Greek College of Rome confirm that the church had this name in 1638. In 1765 the church is destroyed and was rebuild in its present form in 1768. In 1851 was renovated again and also acquired the present wood engraved, but gold surfaced iconostas. Many of the icons are 16th and 17th century as most of its ecclesiastical furnishing. Situated at the corner of Archie Bishop Kyprianou and Crysopolitissas streets, on a hill that used to be the prehistoric cemetery of the ancient town (12-13th centuries BC). Chrysopolitissa stone church is devoted to Virgin Mary of the “golden-town”, because the prehistoric and rich tombs on this hill were full of gold jewelry and this quarter was known in medieval times as “gold-town” or Chryssopolis. Its elegant bell-tower, recently restored, is of the 19th century.

Church of the Savior

The Metropolitan church of Larnaka was first founded in 1460. In the 1760’s
the Bishopric of Kition was moved here and the church was renovated in 1854. The nicely wood engraved Bishopric throne is of 1783. An icon of Mary with the Child, in Latin style, painted in the 1870’s by Cypriot national poet Vasilis Michaelides, is kept in the church. In the mid 20th century a new building was made to house the Bishop of Kition. From Medieval times till 1973 the Bishop of Kition administered Larnaka and Limassol, as well. The church is at Metropolis Square on Nikodemou Mylona Street.

St. John’s (the old Bishopric)

The church is known to have existed during the Frankish period (13-16th centuries AD). It served as the town’s Bishopric till the middle of the18th century. The present church was built in 1715 and renovations took place in 1853. It is well known for its elegant and unique bell tower, which was reconstructed in the 19th century and it is one of the most artistic on the island. The wood engraved iconostas is of 18th century.

Saint George (Kontos)

The present church and convent of Saint George Kontos is of 1833, but historical sources mention that the church existed at the spot since the 15th century. Some of the icons of the church are dated in 1685 and 1695 confirming the fact that the church existed in the 17th century. The surrounding structures are of 1922 and the monument at the entrance is in honor of the historic Mayor of Larnaka and Member of the Colonial Parliament Dr. Philios Zanettos, who died in exile imposed by the British in 1924. A new church opposite the old was built in 1987 at the exit of Larnaka in the direction of Nicosia.

Saint George Makris

This delegate miniature piece of late Byzantine architecture is probably of the 12thCentury. It is built on a hill along the Phaneromeni Avenue and is the church of
medieval village Agrinou. The village and the church were destroyed by the
Egyptian Mameluks, who invaded in 1426 and also captured the Luzignian King Janos,. The church was soon repaired, the king was let free, but an annual tax was paid to the Mameluks till the Ottoman occupation. In the 18th – 19th centuries the church served as a monastery, but the annexed structures were demolished in the 20th century thus restoring the original setting of the picturesque church. A wall painting of the Saint survives till now on the north wall.

Saint Lazarus

This stone build church, in the center of Larnaca (St. Lazaros Square), is the most important surviving Byzantine monument of the whole of Cyprus. It was built in 890 by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI, the Wise, on the resting place of St. Lazarus the resurrected friend of Christ. St. Lazarus arrived in ancient Kition on 33 AD becoming its first Bishop and Patron Saint. His tomb lies under the sanctuary and can be visited. In Frankish times 13-16th centuries) a stone build covered shed (stoa) of Gothic style was added on its south side. The 3 imposing domes of this Orthodox Basilica Church were destroyed with the original bell-tower probably in the first years of the Ottoman rule (1571 AD), but the bell-tower was rebuild in a different style in 1857 and after the Ottomans allowed bell towers on Cyprus churches again. In Frankish times the Church belonged to the Catholics, but in 1589 the Ottomans sold it back to the Orthodox, as they had no intension of turning it into a Mosque because of its Christian cemetery. The brilliant Byzantine art of the icons and the unique baroque woodcarving of the golden surfaced iconostas were completed in 1782. Icon painter Hadjimicael completed the iconography of the iconostas in 1797. Some furniture in woodcarving and some icons on the walls are of the 17th century.