Chipre, la isla del Mediterráneo donde nació la belleza

Beauty understands in as many ways as opinions, but many of us suspect that its origin was always in the Mediterranean: say the bougainvillea that spy behind whitewashed walls, the trellises that reveal a wine route or the amphorae swollen with the whispers of ancient goddesses. A breeze loaded with memories of foam; so many columns, Doric, Ionic, a cave of secrets and a rock that invites you to swim around it in search of eternal youth. Cyprus evokes all those muses.

Independence from the United Kingdom in 1960 and occupied in 1974 after the Turkish invasion that divided the island in two, Cyprus is a country where we can contemplate the history of the West from new perspectives, if possible with a glass of commandaria wine and the blue bathing our feet. The third largest island in the Mediterranean -behind Sicily and Sardinia- is not only the sixth country with the highest number of flags by population density, but also a feast of contrasts that deserves to be discovered this summer.

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Cyprus: the beach was this

The light in Cyprus seems more intense than anywhere else in the Mediterranean, and the Ayia Napa area is the best setting to confirm it. The southeastern tip of the island is home to as many beachfront stories as there are lodgings, fig trees, or the blue-domed churches that speak to their peers on the nearby Greek islands.

Ayia Napa shares with Mykonos (Greece) and Eivissa the scene of the go clubbing in the Mare Nostrum, with nightclubs, DJs and lounge bars where to experience that much-needed, post-pandemic holiday summer. But beyond the summer hedonism, Ayia Napa is revealed as the best place in Cyprus to enjoy its beaches, especially Nissi Beach, an oasis on the way to the wonders of nearby Cape Greco.

Aerial image of Nissi Beach

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This tongue that juts out into the sea is a protected natural area where the Sculpture Park welcomes you in the form of an open-air museum. The countryside is dotted with straw pines and alpacas, while one of the 125 species of orchids flourishes in the most unexpected corner. Suddenly, a blue map: in the church of Agioi Anargyrol begins the descent to a turquoise sea that sighs between the cliffs and its famous Sea Caves (or caves of the Sea), natural caves in the rock and one of the most iconic images of the island.

It seems that, at some point, ancient empires loom over the horizon, and although we could stay swimming in transparent waters for a lifetime, there is sure to be time to visit nearby Larnaca. The second largest city in Cyprus is located half an hour’s drive from Ayia Napa and is the main gateway to the country thanks to its airport, located just 4 kilometers from the city center.

The church of San Lázaro, founded in the year 900, endures as an emulsion of Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque styles

Whoever comes to Larnaca does so looking for a touch of costumbrismo and walks among palm trees and burekia (honey cakes) stalls with a final stop at the church of Saint Lazarus, the first bishop of Cyprus in the 1st century, when Larnaca was one of the of the most prosperous ports in the Mediterranean.

An exponent of the Cypriot Orthodox religion, the Church of Saint Lazarus was founded in the early 900s at the initiative of Leo VI the Wise and endures today as a unique emulsion of Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque styles. A journey through history through a porch full of inscriptions in Greek and Latin, followed by a wooden iconostasis next to the saint’s sarcophagus. When leaving, it seems incredible to think that we will continue in 2022.

The popular Bridge of Love, a rock formation over the sea near Cavo Greco, in Cyprus

The popular Bridge of Love, a rock formation over the sea near Cape Greco, in Cyprus

DMITRY V. PETRENKO

Troodos Mountains: In Search of Da Vinci’s Favorite Tablecloths

Cyprus hides behind its blues like a flag, but when we talk about its interior, the land becomes limestone and wild until it embraces the Troodos mountain range, a melting pot of some of the island’s most ancient traditions. The first indication is found in Lefkara, a small village of houses with a Roman patio, narrow alleys and women sitting in the cool, crestfallen before centuries-old creations.

Lefkara is the heart of the famous lace tablecloths known as lefkaritikospearhead of a craft culture inspired by the chordates of Venetian courtiers settled in Cyprus at the end of the 15th century. In fact, one of these tablecloths was included by Leonardo Da Vinci himself in his famous interpretation of The Last Supper.

Lefkara is the heart of the famous lace tablecloths known as ‘lefkaritiko’

A break in the recommendable Lefkara Da Vinci tavern. Cypriot Keo beer is best accompanied by a typical Greek salad and sauces with pita bread. Is he appetizer prior to mixa succession of dishes that represents the definitive ode to the Mediterranean diet in the form of lamb trays, moussakas or Cypriot potato rations, the great national pride. There is no lack of delicious coffee, sometimes Greek, sometimes Turkish, but always Cypriot (and also a bit mystical): someone overturns the cup before reading the future in the marks of a grounds that turns out to be a metaphor for Cyprus and its many mysteries to decipher

The wine, we reserve it for oenological jewels of the Troodos mountain range such as Omodos. In this delightful little stone village surrounded by pine and mulberry trees, the trellis reveals the presence of cellars where you can have a good glass of commandaria. Considered the oldest sweet wine in the world, it is made from Cypriot varieties xynisteri (white) and mavro (ink) and is preserved in resin-lined amphorae, a custom dating back to 800 BC

A street in Lefkara, Cyprus

A street in Lefkara, Cyprus

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The roads of the interior of Cyprus reserve churches of Byzantine charm, the Neolithic site of Choirokoitia -designated a UNESCO heritage site-, or the other great attraction of the country: the city of Nicosia (Lefkosia), the only divided capital in the world after the invasion from Turkey in 1974.

The old city of Nicosia begins in the Eleftheria square and continues through the Venetian heritage of its walls, the Famagusta gate or the iconic San Juan cathedral. Further on, sleeper houses and protest art murals herald the arrival of the Green Line, the UN-controlled zone that marks the division of the island. The origin of this name can be found in the color of the pen used on a map by the British officer Mark Hobden to divide the city of Nicosia and the country of Cyprus into two on the night of December 25, 1963.

In Ledra Street (Nicosia), the drums mark the border and the ‘checkpoint’ allows you to cross to the Turkish side by showing your passport

As you pass a street, the drums mark the border and there, on Ledra Street, the control allows you to cross to the Turkish side by showing your passport, although this author recommends staying in the Greek Cypriot area to continue enjoying all the charms of the city.

southern aphrodisiac

Cyprus is a mosaic of cultures: Phoenician, Greek, Assyrian, Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Ottoman or English, among others, have lived on this island throughout its history. The reflection of so many influences is especially concentrated in the extreme southwest, starting from Larnaca -the best center of operations- to connect with Limassol, the second largest city in Cyprus around the bay of Akrotiri.

Kourion, facing the waters of the Mediterranean

Kourion, facing the waters of the Mediterranean

Georgios Tsichlis

A perfect dichotomy of antiquity and modernity, Limassol points to the sky with its avant-garde hotels and the blessings of its agora, made up of marble columns brought from Greece. And there, behind long rows of cypresses, emerges Kourion, an amphitheater built by the ancient Greeks in the 2nd century BC and later rebuilt by the Romans. An archaeological paradise where the stairs unfold majestically, under acoustics that could wake up Poseidon himself.

Finally we arrive at the coastal city of Paphos, ancient center of worship of Aphrodite where light floods everything and the visits revolve around two main attractions. The first of these is Kato Paphos, an archaeological park based on ancient Roman villas such as the house of Dionysus, in whose courtyard conversations between rulers and maidens were sealed over glasses of wine and water. A journey through the past whose common thread can be found in its mosaics of peacocks, playful gods and ancient myths.

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Blue windows, fresh fish in the restaurants on its docks and a Byzantine castle. We can entertain ourselves on the way to the second great icon of Paphos: the tomb of the Kings, a necropolis dating from the Ptolemaic era and whose name is an innocent trap, since in this place the nobles of the city were buried instead of their Kings. Tombs carved into the rock itself form a labyrinth between apachetas, caves and columns that evoke the greatness of ancient Egypt. The greatest archaeological treasure in Cyprus can be enjoyed at a slow pace, among old whispers and a sea in the background that is more seductive here.

Because no, we did not forget about you, Aphrodite. The goddess of beauty deserves a visit worthy of ritual when she arrives at a certain place between Paphos and Limassol where the world seems to stop. From the viewpoint, the huge rock known as Petra toy Romiou tells a story: that of so many nights of passion between Uranus (god of the sky) and Gea (goddess of the earth), their twelve titan children and a sexual frenzy that Gea could not endure, which is why he asked his son Kronos to cut off his lover’s testicles with a scythe. Falling into the sea, Uranus’s testicles formed the foam from which Aphrodite was born.

Tombs of the Kings, in Paphos

Tombs of the Kings, in Paphos

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In the distance some people dive into an eternal blue and someone dares to swim around the last rock, capable of subtracting ten years of life for each lap. Or so they say. My crow’s feet still remain, but it doesn’t matter. In this part of the world we all travel back in time to start over. To rediscover the beauty that we forgot during these years of darkness.

Direct flight

This summer, the Politours travel agency offers 14 direct flight departures to Cyprus. The flights start on July 24 with 12 departures from Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Bilbao, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Santiago de Compostela and Asturias.