Larnaca city of Kition
Situated on the southern coast of Cyprus, Larnaca is the third largest city after Nicosia and Limassol. Larnaca is known for its palm tree seafront, the Church of Saint Lazarus, The Salt Lake, the Hala Sultan Tekke, the medieval fort and the Kamares Aqueduct. The islands largest airport, the Larnaca International Airport is located in Larnaca and it also boasts a seaport and marina.
The whole of Cyprus has a long history of occupation by foreign nationals and Larnaca has had its fair share of different nationalities occupying the city. The first settlement in Larnaca can be dated back around 6000 years ago. The city was then known as Kition with its earliest remains traced back to the Mycenaean age which was formed in the 13th century BC. Larnaca has always had a prime location in the Mediterranean region and that is why it was at the mercy of many conquerors throughout history. Apart from its location, Larnaca also has minerals and other resources that were taken advantage of through the ages. Though there were many rulers that occupied Larnaca, the most influential were the Byzantines. One of the most important structures left by the Byzantines is the Basilica of Saint Lazarus which can still be admired today. During the Ottoman occupation, Larnaca was an important commercial center which was also enjoyed by the British who occupied Cyprus for 82 years. This lasted until 1974 when the Turks attacked Cyprus and separated the island into two distinct areas. Larnaca become home to more than 40,000 refugees who were displaced from the areas of the north that were occupied by the Turks.
Larnaca is also well-known for the Salt Lake which is visited by flocks of flamingoes in the winter. This historical mosque Hala Sultan Tekke, is located just 3 km west of Larnaca on the main Salt Lake. It is said that Mohamed’s aunt died at the site and that the mosque was constructed in her honor and built over her tomb. The mosque was first renovated in 1816 and more recently in 2002 by UNOPS. The archeological site has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and today this is the main Muslim pilgrimage site of Cyprus. This is a very important holy place of worship for the Muslims and is ranked immediately after Mecca, Medina and Al Aksha. The Hala Sultan is situated in the centre of spectacular gardens and is bordered by the Salt Lake
Like the whole of Cyprus, Larnaca boasts true Mediterranean weather with hot dry summers and mild winters. One of the city’s landmarks is Phinikoudes beach front which boasts a long promenade lined with palm trees. This is a popular entertainment area with international restaurants, bars and cafes. A bust of ‘Kimon the Athenian’ is proudly displayed in the promenade.
Larnaca has grown economically after 1974 due to the loss of the Port of Famagusta and now handles the general cargo that was previously located in that area. It has also benefited tremendously with the closing of the Nicosia International Airport which saw the building of the new Larnaca International Airport taking its place. Recently a multi-million upgrade to the airport has been completed making Larnaca an increasingly important economic contributor of the island. The rise of the tourist sector in Larnaca can be contributed to the very popular seaside resorts of Ayia Napa, Protaras and Ayia Thekla amongst other smaller villages dotted along the pristine beaches of this area. Home to Cavo Greco which is a magnificent nature reserve, the Larnaca area has a lot to offer sea loving tourists. Larnaca also attracts windsurfers from around the world in autumn with Mackenzie Beach being at the centre of this activity. Larnaca has many blue flag awarded beaches which are enjoyed by millions of tourists annually.
Today, Larnaca is considered to be a modern city with many respectable educational facilities for all ages. These include the American Academy and the Larnaca Armenian School. Culture plays an important part in this town which boast numerous museums and cultural centers. Festivals also play a big part in Larnaca with most of them taking place in the Phinikoudes promenade. The beaches are lined with seafood tavernas were locals and tourists enjoy fresh fish and local cuisine. This is home to the popular Cypriot meze which consists of many small plates of local delicacies being served throughout the night. This can include seasonal specialties like dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), beans, wild greens, kohlrabi salad, grilled black olives and much more. This meal is usually ended with either fish or barbequed lamb or pork.
Larnaca seems to be the city of choice for many Arabs. The attraction of Larnaca can be seen as the airport, the harbor and the marina were the have opened offshore companies, and also the Hala Sultan Mosque which is considered one of the most revered holy places for Muslims worldwide. With the booming property trade in Larnaca which offers many high end quality residential properties, many Arabs have come to consider Larnaca as their new home. The ‘golden visas’ or ‘citizenship by investments’ initiatives for permanent residence and citizenship that the Cypriot government has introduced is gaining a lot of interest in the Arab world, with new investors showing an interest in buying properties in Cyprus. The extraction of Gas and Oil which is scheduled to be implemented soon is another important factor that is attracting Arab investments, especially in light of the instability of their countries.
Cyprus is considered to be the bridge between Europe and the Arab world, and many see the island as a strategically placed country with high potential. Arab businessmen are using Cyprus as a platform for their activities in the European market. The Lebanese community in Cyprus have been operating in Cyprus for many years, particularly in financial services, commerce and real estate. Arabs have invested a lot of money in Cyprus, consider the two hotels the Le Meridian and the St. Raphael which are both owned by Arabs plus many off shore companies that have been established, are also managed by Arabs. Estate agents have started promoting properties in Cyprus to the Arab world extensively over the last few years and this is definitely an up and coming trend for the real estate market in Cyprus.