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Cyprus Culture

Cyprus is rich in historic sites and a paradise for those interested in archaeology and ancient ruins. One of the oldest sites is at Khirokitia between Lárnaka and Lemesós where you will find the remains of a Neolithic settlement. The site is famous for its beehive shaped one storey houses.
 
The ruins of the ancient port of Salamís in the North are the largest in Cyprus. The unearthed relics go back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The restored Roman theatre is now a venue for summer performances. The columns of the gymnasium are clearly visible and the caldarium (baths) contain restored mosaics.
 
In the South, Kato (Lower) Páfos archaeological park near the harbour is probably the islands most accessible and informative site. In ancient times Kato Páfos was the former capital of Cyprus and the remains were unearthed in 1962 and have since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are four Roman villas with beautifully tiled mosaic floors and the partly restored Roman Odeon hosts regular summer events. (See Festivals)
 
North of Kato Páfos you can visit the Tombs of the Kings an amazing system of chambers and mausoleums cut into the soft sandstone dating from the Hellenic and Roman eras.
 
The capital of Cyprus, Lefkosía (Nicosia) is split into two parts. The Cyprus Museum in South Lefkosía contains the islands best collection of archaeological findings including 2,000 terracotta figures dating back to the 6th century BC. Other notable archaeological museums are those at Páfos, Koúrion and Lárnaka.
 
Also in South Lefkosía is the Folk Art Museum with a good collection of 19th and early 20th century Cypriot folk art on display. Don’t miss the Archbishop Makarios Cultural Centre with its large collection of precious icons and mosaics or the Cathedral of St John the Theologian, a small church with beautiful 18th century frescoes.
 
The old Venetian walls of North Lefkosíacontain most of the cities historic relics and the area is best explored on foot. Head for the Büyük Han an old Ottoman inn with a central Muslim shrine built for visiting merchants, later used as a prison and now houses souvenir shops, galleries, cafes and performance/exhibition areas. Another impressive building is the Arabahmet Mosque with its tall minaret and vast dome. The surrounding Arabhahmet District is a great place to see restored Ottoman houses. Finally, the Mevlevi Tekke (Turkish Ethnographic Museum) is well worth a visit and charts the interesting history of the Whirling Dervish sect who used to be based in this 17th century Muslim monastery.