Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Located at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), it has had what can only be described as a tumultuous history.
The Mycenaeans brought their civilization to Cyprus, establishing the first Greek roots thousands of years ago. Occupation by many other powers followed: Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans and the British. Even disciples of Jesus spent some time here.
Although the Turkish mainland is a mere 40 miles from Cyprus, only eighteen percent of the island's 650,000 residents are Turkish, while Greeks comprise nearly eighty percent of the population.
Throughout the centuries, Greek temples, Roman theaters, Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches, secluded monasteries, impressive Crusader castles and Venetian fortifications have been built, destroyed and rebuilt. This patchwork of structures has left a rich heritage for archaeologists to discover and for travelers to explore.
Recent history reveals conflicts between Cypriots loyal to Greece and those who feel strong ties to Turkey. Others have always felt that complete independence would be more to their liking. Despite these differences of opinion, the island today enjoys for the most part peace and tranquility.
The southern central coast is home to the port city of Limassol. The city is a convenient starting point from which to explore the island's ancient ruins and lush scenic highlights, including miles of olive, orange, and lemon groves, cherry orchards and vineyards that cling to the island's craggy slopes. Wooded mountains create a stunning backdrop to the stretches of picture-perfect beaches rimming the coastline.