Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cyprus, Part Three: Nicosia (Lefkosia) and Larnaca

The next tour we took with Ascot Travel was to Nicosia (Greek: Lefkosia) and Larnaca. This meant that we were able to visit the four main cities of Cyprus, with Limassol and Paphos. My parents joined us on this tour, and we were able to store the wheelchair in the boot (trunk) of the minibus.

Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus, located inland rather than on the coast, and it has been divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974. The Cypriots kept stating that it's the only divided capital city in the world. This made us wonder about Jerusalem, until I realized that it's not that they don't think Jerusalem is divided, it's that they don't recognize it as a capital city!

Our first stop in Nicosia was the Archbishop's Palace and St. John's Cathedral. We didn't go inside either building. There were interesting statues outside: the ubiquitous Archbishop Makarios outside the palace, a statue that I assume represents the refugees who escaped from the north of Cyprus during the Turkish invasion, and a rather modern Jesus.

Then we walked through the streets of the Old City of Nicosia, which contained the same combination of charming, authentic old buildings and new touristy shops and cafes that can be found in many similar places around the mediterranean. Somehow we managed to get through the narrow streets with the wheelchair.

We had a limited amount of time before the minibus was due to continue, and we did not wish to cross over to the Turkish occupied part of the city as some of the other tour participants did. We left my parents at a cafe and ventured outside the walled part of the city to find the Cyprus Museum, the largest and oldest archaeological museum in Cyprus. We chose this in preference to the closer Leventis Municipal Museum, and were not disappointed. We had to rush through quickly, but even this rapid visit gave us a good impression of the finds from all over Cyprus, from various periods.

Then we had to hurry back to the minibus, and the tour continued to Larnaca, back on the south coast. Here we visited St. Lazarus Church, an impressive Byzantine church where second tomb and relics of St. Lazarus were found. There were wax votive offerings in the crypt. This church had wheelchair access.

We then had time to eat a pleasant lunch with a sea view at the Finikoudes Promenade before returning to Limassol. This was an interesting tour, though the weather was very hot and humid. 

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