Culturally European but geographically almost Middle Eastern, Cyprus is a blend of Turkish and Greek, Muslim and Christian influences, viewed through the perspective of 9000 years of constant invasion. Crusader castles rub shoulders with ancient vineyards, frescoed monasteries overlook citrus orchards, and sandy, sun-soaked feet tread Rome mosaic floors. Politically, Cyprus has remained a divided island since 1974 and, although unity is now on the EU’s agenda, the wounds caused by 30 years of division will not easily healed.
April to May and September to October to avoid the heat and crowds
Visiting the Byzantine frescoed churches of the Troodos Mountains Cycling through the almost-deserted Karpas Peninsula Wandering around the castles of the Girne (Kyrenia) Range Skin diving at Cape Greco and swimming at deserted beaches Hiking the Mt Olympus trails in the Troodos Mountains
Read Journey lnto Cyprus by Colin Thubron, a classic Cyprus travelogue
Listen to Pelagia Kyriakou’s Paralimnitika recordings, a superd collection of Cypriot demotic songs from the beginning of the 19 th century and sung in the original Cypriot dialect
Watch The Wing of the Fly, directed by Hristos Siopahas, or The Slaughter of the Cock, directed by Andreas Pantazis-both deal with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974
Eat Kleftiko (oven-baked lamb) or mezedes (dips, salads and other appetizers)
Drink raki (Turkish) or zivania (Greek), the local firewater made from distilling the leftovers of grape crushings
Yasas (hello) for Greek Cypriots; merhaba (hello) for Turkish Cypriots
Strong, thick coffee, Turkish and British military camps; British pubs at Agia Napa; the Green Line; citrus orchards
Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria at Lemesos Castle in the 12 th century; there was once a rail system in Cyprus that ran the length of the island
The bouzouki, which you will here all over Cyprus, is a mandolin-like instrument similar to the Turkish saz and baglama. lt is one of the main instruments of rembetika music-the Greek equivalent of American blues. The name rembetika may come from the Turkish word rembet, which means outlaw. Opinions differ as to the origins of rembetika, but it is probably a hybrid of several different types of music. One source was the music that emerged in the 1870s in the ‘low-life’ cafes, called tekedes (hashish dens).