Larnaca, or Larnaka (also colloquially Skala), (Λάρνακα ) is a city on the southeast coast of Cyprus. The major international airport of Cyprus, Larnaca International Airport is located in this city. In ancient times, Larnaka was known as Kition, or (in Latin) 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.
It has a population of 72.000 (end of 2001) and is the island's second commercial port and an important tourist resort. To the north of the town lies the island's oil refinery, while to the south of Larnaca the International Airport is situated. The city of Larnaka is well-known for its picturesque sea-front which includes rows of palm trees (oi finikoudes, in the Cypriot dialect). Much of the activity is centred around the city promenade during the major festivals. The most important of these for the city of Larnaka is Kataklysmos or the Festival of the Flood, celebrated in early summer with a series of cultural events.
The famous stoic philosopher Zeno of Citium hailed from the city. It is said he began his stoic teaching after losing everything he had in a shipwreck.
A famous Athenian general, Kimon, died at sea defending the city of Citium in a major battle with the Persians of Xerxes. He told his officers to keep the news of his death secret. The quote "Και Νεκρος Ενικα" ("Even in death he was victorious") referred to Kimon. A statue of "Kimon the Athenian" stands proudly on the sea front promenade of modern Larnaca.
In the modern times, a famous person who was born in Larnaca is Anna Vissi, a Greek-Cypriot singer famous mainly in her home country Cyprus, Greece, and the United States. She is often referred to as "The Greek Madonna". Mehmet Nazim Adil, the leader of the Nakshbandi Sufi order (or Tekke) was born in Larnaca. Another singer from Larnaca is Stelios Konstantas. Ioannis Okkas, an Olympiakos football player is from Larnaca. Also Garo Yepremian, a former National Football League placekicker was born in Larnaca.
Like other cities of Cyprus, it has suffered repeatedly from earthquakes, and 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 farther 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 Mayor of Larnaca is Andreas Moiseos and Αlexis Michaelides is the Vice Mayor.
The city is the home to the football teams AEK Larnaca FC, and ALKI Larnaca FC. Both teams play in a stadium of a city called GSZ Stadium or Zenon Stadium. Since the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey in 1974, the two teams of Famagusta, Anorthosis and Nea Salamina, have their own stadiums in Larnaca. "Antonis Papadopoulos" is the Anorthosis' stadium and "Ammochostos" (means Famagusta) is the stadium of Nea Salamima.
Larnaca hosted the European Under-19 Football Championship final, in 1998 and the European Under-17 Football Championship final in 1992
Larnaca is the oldest living city of Cyprus and was originally known as Kition, or Kittium. Legend has it that the first settlement at the spot was founded by Noah' s grandson Khittim. Unlike other ancient cities of Cyprus, which were abandoned by their inhabitants, Larnaca from the time of its founding 6000 years ago, has existed and still exists on the same site.
Originally the principal Phoenician colony in Cyprus, it later became a part of the Hellenistic world. The ancient site is at the north end of modern Larnaca. The earliest remains go back to the Mycenean age (ca 1400–1100 BC) and seem to mark an Aegean colony, but in historic times Citium was the chief center of Phoenician influence in Cyprus. That this was still a recent settlement in the 7th century BC is suggested by an allusion in a list of the allies of Assurbanipal of Assyria in 668 BC 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 Esarhaddon's 673/672 BC, which might simply have been copied by Assurbanipal's scribes.) A Phoenician dedication to Baal, dated also to the 7th century BC, suggests that Citium may have belonged to Tyre. The discovery here of an official monument of Sargon II suggests that Citium was the administrative center of Cyprus during the Assyrian protectorate (709–668 BC). During the Ionian Greek revolts of the 4th century BC, Citium led the side that was loyal to Persia and was besieged by an Athenian force in 449 BC.
The Kition City Kingdom was established by the Mycenean Greeks in the 13th century BC when it enjoyed the dual position of a rich port and a major centre of the copper trade. Remains of that period excavated in recent years can be seen in its Cyclopean walls and a complex of Mycenean temples.
Being in the crossroad of civilization from the early dawn of history, Larnaca has attracted many visitors. Some came as colonizers, others as traders and others as invaders, conquerors or tourists. The Greeks, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians, the Turks, the British and today all the annual three million travelers and tourists entering Cyprus from the town' s Airport, Port and the Marina.
Larnaca c. 1897
The Byzantine period of Larnaca is of great importance. It left many interesting monuments, among them the 9th century AD Basilica of Saint Lazarus. The town regained its standing during Ottoman rule when it became the diplomatic and commercial center of Cyprus. It was here that the British landed in 1878 to begin their rule of the island that was ended in 1960. The recent history of the town follows the very fast development of all of the country. In 1973 the population of Larnaca was 22.000. In 1974 Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Army displaced by force about 200.000 Greek-Cypriots, the inhabitants of its Northern part. Larnaca received and welcomed over 40.000 refugees, thus tripling its population overnight, now at 65.000.
Places of interest
The most important site of Larnaca are the ruins of Ancient Kitium. The earliest architectural remains date back to the 13th century B.C. the area was rebuilt by Archaean Greeks. The remains of the Cyclopean Walls, made of giant blocks and the complex of the five temples, are particularly interesting.
Another place of interest is the Marable Bust of Zeno, which stands at the crossroads near the American Academy. Zeno was born in Kition (ancient Larnaka) in 326 B.C.. After studying philosophy in Athens he founded the famous Stoic school or philosophy.
Near Larnaka International Airport there is the Larnaca Salt Lake. It fills with water during the winter and is visited by flocks of flamingoes who stay here from November till the end of March. It dries up in the summer. It used to yield a good quality of salt which was is scraped from its dried up surface.The salt from this lake is now considered unfit for human consumption.
About half - way between the monument of Zeno and Salt Lake on the right, there is the underground chapel of Ayia Phaneromeni. It is a rock cavern with two chambers. The structure suggests that it once was a pagan tomb, possibly dating back to Phoenician times. The place is credited with various magical properties: thus those who suffer from headaches or other diseases walk three times round it and leave a piece of clothing or a tuft of their hair on the grill in front of the south window. It is also much frequented by girls, whose lovers are overseas, who come here to pray for their safety.
The Church of Lazarus is another magnificent Orthodox Church in Larnaca which was built in the town over the tomb of St. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. He died here and was buried in the church named after him. In 890 A.D. his tomb was found bearing the inscription "Lazarus the friend of Christ". The marble sarcophagus can be seen inside the church under the Holy of Holies.
The Hala Sultan Tekke is about 5 kilometers west of Larnaka, on the banks of the Salt Lake. It is equivalent to the Christian "monastery". Within the precincts of this Tekke is the tomb of Umm Haram, said to be the foster mother of Mohammed. According to Moslem tradition Umm Haram died on this spot in 647 A.D. while accompanying the Arab invaders. She was buried here and later the Ottomans built the present mosque in her honour.
Another site of interest is the Fort of Larnaca which was erected by the Turks in 1625. This fort is now a museum and its inner courtyard is used as an open air garden - theatre during the summer months, by kind permission of the director of antiquities.
The Old Aqueduct known as "The Kamares", stands outside the town on the way to Limassol. It was built in Roman style in 1745 to carry water from a source about 6 miles south of Larnaka into the town. The aqueduct is illuminated at night.
Maps of Cyprus, Pierides Collection, Pierides Museum, Larnaca
Larnaca Municipality is a twin town with the following:
- Municipality of Poti, Georgia, Former USSR (1987)
- Municipality of Glyfada, Greece (1988)
- Municipality of Ajaccio, Corsica, France (1989)
- Municipality of Bratislava, Slovakia former Czechoslovakia (1989)
- Municipality of Larissa, Greece (1990)
- Municipality of Novosibirsk, Russia, Former USSR (1993)
- Municipality of Szeged, Hungary (1993)
- Municipality of Ayioi Saranta (Sarandë), Albania (1994)
- Municipality of Piraeus, Greece (1995)
- Municipality of Leros, Greece (2000).
- Municipality of Elioupolis, Greece (2000)
Alki Larnaca (Greek: ΑΛΚΗ Λάρνακας, ALKI Larnakas)
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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