A Fortress, a Mosque, and Antiquities

Larnaca Travel Blog

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I didn’t push myself to get up early as I expected to have a rainy day. Also, I was tired! When I did get up, it was party cloudy but, with a good bit of sun. I decided to just play it by ear and decide when I decide.


I had a nice breakfast and got ready for my day. I decided to walk along the beach promenade down to the fortress and give it a visit. The easiest way for me to reach the boardwalk was to walk through a McDonalds which had become my regular passage. It was packed with people but, it was noon.


By the time I got to the beach, it was looking to be a really nice day….but, to the east, I could see the clouds coming and they didn’t look peaceful.


The promenade was filled with people as well.

Was it a day off for people….who knows. Everyone was enjoying the day. I wasn’t the only pasty tourist as I had already noticed many others mostly Brits and Russians.


Along the way I noticed a nice row of very tall palm trees. I love palms. I guess from my childhood but, I see them and feel happier, like a fun time is ahead. This promenade is lined with palms and then there are also many along the beach. It’s not the most beautiful beach but, all of the palms make it much nicer.


Reaching the fortress, I climbed down to beach level to get a better view. It’s not very large but, looks much nicer given its seaside location. The minaret of the mosque is in view in the background.


Above the gate into the fortress is an Ottoman inscription showing a bit of its history. The current fort was built in 1625 by the Turks on the ruins of a Medieval castle that had been destroyed two centuries earlier.


It heralded the arrival of ships into its harbor, which no longer exists, with a cannon salute. In Byzantine times it was used as a prison and execution site.


Entering the courtyard, it is a peaceful and beautiful place. There are palms, hibiscus and other flowers in the central area.


There are 14 ��" 19th tombstones displayed in an alcove. There seemed to be knights, women, and holy men represented.


There were also rooms with artifacts such as stone tablets with Arabic and Greek inscriptions.


From there I climbed the stairs to reach the top of the wall.

What a nice view from here, the sea, the coastline, and the mosque. Looking east you could see the two large loading cranes of the port. I hate that they are so big and dominate the view.


In the Medieval museum, there were many treasures of colorful pottery and carved stone. There was a Turkish living room set up, complete with beautiful carpet. Also, the many crests that had noble families were represented.


I left the fortress and went across the street to the Buyuk Cami mosque. It was originally The Church of the Holy Cross. At one point people were allowed to climb the minaret but, it fell into a state of disrepair and even with pending renovation, it is highly unlikely to be allowed again. They have bowed to tourist pressure and are open for visits when not during prayer.


The building is unusual in that it has supports like those found in a Gothic cathedral.

It has internal vaulted arches inside, also as would be seen in the Gothic interiors of the day. Beyond that, it is very simple if a bit shabby for a mosque. It could use some tlc. It is interesting and worth the visit if you are an architecture or religious history buff.


While I was visiting the mosque it had started to rain. I went across the street to a shop with a window full of shells. I was drawn inside. There really wasn’t much to see. I have an extensive collection and there wasn’t anything that I didn’t have. There were other shell shops in Larnaca and I would continue to look.


The rain let up and people were walking into the street, again. I could see many people heading to the boardwalk. I joined and was led to a beautiful sight. There was a huge rainbow from the land out into the water, ending at a large ship, which looks to be for some type of industrial use.


I decided to take a walk through some of the shops of the narrow streets of Old Town.

I saw several more shops full of shells. I purchased a large razor clam, unlike any other that I own and a pentastar shaped starfish, again, unlike any that I own. I did buy one of those for my mother, as well.


The next stop I found a cute little Cypriot Orthodox Church miniature, for my collection, and a shot glass for Michael. I noticed that this shop was selling lace form Lefkara. This village is known for its beautiful lace. Much of the lace in shops is not of the old style and even some of it is imported. The lace form Lefkara is special and the number of ladies producing it is steadily decreasing as the young women do not want to learn the skill and make it a career. So, it is harder to find and more expensive. What I found is very special and I will treasure it. There is fantastic detail and much time spent on these pieces.


Happy now with my Cypriot treasures, I make my way back to the hotel, briefly stopping for some fresh product at a market. I had to get some figs as they are known for them in this region.


I close the door to my room and all of a sudden there is a terrible sound coming from outside. I go to the window and it is pouring…..and hailing. Wow, my timing was great. Within a few minutes it had stopped but….WOW!


I had my late lunch of some fruit and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then out the door again. This time I brought my umbrella…..which usually scares away the rain in Amsterdam.


I walked to the tourist information center to check their hours. It would be open later than the museum I wanted to attend so….museum first.


Just a block away was the Pierides Museum.

Its archeological collection is one most important on the island. Dimtrios Pierides’ aim was to protect and preserve Cyprus’ antiquities where they were created.  His efforts were extremely important during the 19th century during Ottoman rule. The archeological treasures were traded systematically by dealers who acted under the cover of various professions (diplomats, bankers) with the sole aim of collecting antiquities and selling them abroad. Five generations of the family’s collections enriched the museum that his son would found.


The museum is housed in a colonial style house built in 1815. The collections spans 9000 years of Cypriot craftsmanship.


Of outstanding note is the collection of pottery the likes of which I have never seen. The pieces are in incredible condition and the number astounding. The shapes, design styles, and artistry are wonders that, thankfully, we are able to see.


From the museum, I went to the tourist information center. A very nice man assisted me with my planning of the rest of my trips.


He helped me with determining a safe place to park my car in Nicosia. I had planned to drive across the border but, it was advised against. So, I decided to walk across. He showed me the locations of the sites I would enjoy there as well.


He helped plan my driving route through the Trodos Mountains. I wanted to make efficient use of my time and his suggest path should do that.


I also had him assist me with planning my route to Pafos and the surrounding area.

There are a tremendous number of sites to visit. He pointed out the most important.


He also provided me with maps of Nicosia, Pafos, and the Trodos Mountain area. Thanks!!!!


So, it was after 16:00 and the sun would be down in less than an hour. I walked along the beach from the jetty at the marina to the hotel.


There was a cat just sitting at the water’s edge beside the jetty. It’s such a strange thing to see a cat


There a little park with a very interesting Armenian sculpture in its center.

It was given to Cyprus in appreciation of their assistance and generosity during the genocide. The first refugees landed in Cyprus in 1915. It represents the gratitude of the Armenian nation.


My beachside walk was quite spectacular with a sky of many colors as the sun was setting. There was guy with a metal detector in knee deep water….looking for treasure. Not the way I would want to spend my holiday but, it made for an interesting picture.


Back in my room, I made a dinner of fresh veggies and wrote about my day. This city isn’t much at first glance. You have to find the beauty and discover what is interesting. It is here….just not always in front of you.


Depending on the weather….

.tomorrow, who knows. The rest of the week is predicted to be sunny so, Wed (Nicosia), Thurs (Trodos Mountains), and Friday (Pafos). If tomorrow is not so bad, then I will try to go to the upper most areas of the western coast which will ease my day on Friday. That would be nice as I will be leaving at 04:30 Saturday morning….OUCH!!! 

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photo by: ewooce