Friday, March 26, 2010


Larnaca, is a city on the southern coast of Cyprus. It is the island's second largest commercial port and an important tourist resort. The island's largest airport, Larnaca International Airport is located on the outskirts of the city.

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 Kitium 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 Kitium may have belonged to Tyre. The discovery here of an official monument of Sargon II suggests that Kitium was the administrative center of Cyprus during the Assyrian protectorate (709–668 BC). During the Ionian Greek revolts of the 4th century BC, Kitium 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.

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 85,000.

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