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Limassol is the second-largest city in Cyprus and it has been ranked as one of the best cities to live in. Limassol is a perfect mix of old and new, with its historic Medieval Castle and picturesque old harbor. Limassol offers visitors a vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches, historical sites such as ancient Kourion, the ancient city of Amathus, and a former Crusader stronghold, the Kolossi Castle. The Limassol Old Town also offers visitors access to some interesting museums which showcase the island’s history. Limassol has all the modern amenities you would expect from a cosmopolitan city, with plenty of shopping malls and cafes. Limassol is also known for its good transport network.
The area now known as Limassol has been inhabited for over 3000 years, with the first signs of human settlement dating back to 2000 BC.
The city of Limassol is located on the south coast of Cyprus facing the Mediterranean Sea. The present-day city lies between the ancient Kingdoms of Amathus and Kourion, where the Byzantine Neapolis once stood.
The ancient kingdom of Amathus which was inhabited by the Phoenicians in 1500 BC, is one of the ancient royal cities of Cyprus. Its prosperity was founded on agriculture and copper mines. The temple of Adonis and Aphrodite, which was famous in Roman times, explains the Latin name Amathusia attributed to Venus. The city continued to flourish throughout the 7th century AD, but it declined considerably by the 12th century.
Around 30 km along the coastline, the Kingdom of Kourion, was built on a hillside, overlooking the Mediterranean. Kourion was one of the most important cities of antiquity, and its history dates back to the 12th century BC; archeological findings indicate that Kourion was inhabited by Mycenaeans at the time. The city flourished as a major trade and religious center with its own minting facilities at least until the 2nd century AD when Kourion was struck by a violent earthquake. One of the most magnificent temples in history was located at Kourion. The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. The Temple was dedicated to Apollo, the god of sun and music and the protector of Kourion.
Ѕubsequent to the division of the Roman Empire into East and West, Cyprus became part of the Byzantine Empire. Neapolis was founded around 451 AD by the bishops of Amathus and Arsinoe. After the events of 1191, when Richard I of England conquered Limassol and The Island of Cyprus, during his journey to the Holy Land, Cyprus became part of the Kingdom of Jerusalem where it was fought over and ended up being ruled by the Lusignans. During this era, Limassol enjoyed great prosperity. Around 1489, Venice took control of Cyprus and the Venetians strengthened the Castle of Limassol. The handover was done by the last Cypriot Queen Catherine Cornaro.
Limassol was then taken by the Ottomans in July 1570, following the tumultuous history of The Island of Cyprus. The city of Limassol was split into Greek (east) and Turkish (west) neighborhoods. The area surrounding the medieval castle, which served as the city’s center, was evenly mixed.
In 1878 the British took over and they promptly improved town life. They removed animals from the center of Limassol to clean up its streets; they fixed roads so that shipping could dock near their quayside docks without getting too dirty or damaging them with livestock trampling. The first governor who showed an interest was Colonel Warren – soon after his arrival, in 1880, he ordered lanterns to be installed around central areas. Lightings were made possible through electricity instead of old-style oil lamps in 1912 when it came time for replacement bulbs.
The British occupation of Limassol saw the beginning of not just some, but many important institutions. First came a post office and telegraph office in 1880; then there was also an early printing press which started working with newspapers like Alithia and Anagennisis as well Salpinx being printed at this time. By 1890 you can find your first hotels open for business too-among these were Europe Hotel and Amathus – both now-famous landmarks on the island’s coastlines.
When the Republic of Cyprus was proclaimed in 1960, Limassol had a population of about 24,000 people. The city has been the center of economic activity and since then experienced rapid expansion; its current population is estimated at about 150,000. In 1974, because of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, the demographics of Limassol changed. Turkish Cypriots living in Limassol were relocated to the occupied area of The Island of Cyprus. Likewise, many Greek-Cypriots who fled from northern Cyprus settled in Limassol after becoming refugees. A year later, following the 1975 Lebanese civil war, the city was home to a large number of Lebanese immigrants. Limassol is also the preferred choice of many Russians. Russians started migrating to Limassol following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990. All these nationalities have been blended into the Cypriot society.
Limassol is the most visited city in Cyprus and it is considered one of the major tourist destinations. Limassol is becoming more like a resort place with an increasing number of foreigners, especially Russians who are looking for permanent residency due to its low taxes on property they acquire here. Real estate prices in Limassol are high and continue to rise. Limassol is also the country’s second-largest commercial center after Nicosia with many businesses operating here. The city has a large number of banks, shops, supermarkets, and malls; Limassol Marina hosts yachts from all over the world including mega-yachts like Serene.
Limassol offers excellent restaurants that serve both traditional dishes as well international cuisine. There are various nightlife activities available too catering for different tastes making Limassol the “city that never sleeps”.
There is much to Limassol than its beaches as the city has a long and eventful history. The best way to explore Limassol is on foot, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes when visiting.
Here are a few of the attractions you should see when in Limassol:
The Medieval Castle – This castle was built by the Lusignans in the late 12th century and it served as the city’s center. Today, it is open to visitors and contains a museum with archaeological finds from the area.
The Old Town – located just north of the medieval castle and it contains narrow streets with Venetian-style houses dating back to the 16th century. Limassol’s old town is the only place in Cyprus that still contains a Jewish synagogue and remains of an ancient church from Lusignan times, both of which are open to visitors.
The ancient cities of Kourion – which includes important ruins from both Greek and Roman times; and Amathus – the ancient royal city remains from the Bronze Age.
The Limassol Marina is a great place for a walk, especially in the evening when it’s all lit up. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes there if you want to take a break from sightseeing.
The Limassol Promenade is a fantastic location to stroll and admire the view of Limassol Bay. It has a lovely ambiance, with many cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Limassol has many interesting places that explore history too – among these, you can visit churches built by foreign rulers, or old castles that stand next to modern buildings created during recent years. One good example is Bishops’ Palace- a Venetian building dating back to the 16th century that now accommodates Limassol’s Municipal Gallery.
The Municipality of Limassol organizes every year a large number of events in order to promote the city both for locals and tourists.
Some of these are “The Limassol Carnival Festival”, an annual European celebration that takes place on the Sunday before Ash Monday; the “Shakespeare festival” which is a free open-air festival that takes place every year in the month of August and celebrates the work of the great playwright at the ancient Kourion Amphitheatre; “The Wine Festival” which is a week-long event that takes place early in September and showcases Cypriot wine along with traditional food.
There are also many concerts, exhibitions, theatre plays, etc. organized every year in Limassol, so it is advisable to check the municipality’s website on a regular basis to see what’s happening during your visit.
Cyprus as an island offers much more than Limassol and its beaches – make sure you explore other areas of the island when visiting too!
Limassol a cosmopolitan city with over 3000 years of history offers a vast array of activities, attractions, and nightlife for visitors to enjoy. Limassol is also home to a beautiful marina and an extensive beachfront that stretches for kilometers. There’s something for everyone in Limassol – from history buffs to party animals!
Book your stay on booking.com! You can find hotels that range from budget-friendly to luxury accommodation so you can find the perfect place to stay on your next trip to Limassol.
So if you are planning a trip to Cyprus be sure not to miss Limassol – it’s a city that has it all!
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