Cyprus: Living the Ancient Past

Today’s post was written by Michal Kniec. After completing a History degree in Canada,Michael decided that a little change of scenery would do him some good and moved across the world to Manchester. Now studying law, he loves to write, cook, and travel as much as possible on this pale blue dot.

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Looking out onto the ancient Cyprian ruins from my quaint little hotel, I thought I was experiencing a little slice of heaven. The warm sun coupled with the soothing breeze made my entire journey’s aches and pains slowly slip away as I took in the atmosphere. It was then that I realized my decision to backpack to Cyprus and explore its ancient heritage was possibly the best choice I’ve ever made.

Leaving Britain on my gap year I wanted to see a side of Europe that few have gotten the chance to see. I wanted to live through the ancient past, walking through ruins and monuments built by people who have long passed away. However, I added one small corollary: I wanted to do it nearly for free. That one addition changed things quite a bit, ultimately forcing me to focus on certain things that I otherwise wouldn’t.

Doing research before I set off, so that I wouldn’t needlessly waste precious time or money, I found that island of Cyprus offered an enormous array of activities that are nearly, if not entirely, free. Having visited many countries that charge a handsome sum for a petty tour I wanted to get my money’s worth… as well as feel as though I was part of history itself.

It was due to this that I choose to start my journey from Paphos, a small coastal city whose historical importance was unquestionable. Finding a small hostel wasn’t hard as most of them were priced between €20 to €30, and I was eager to start exploring Cyprus. Wearing some good hiking shoes and a nice hat to protect from the sun, I set off.

Wanting to see the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, I hiked to see Aphrodite’s Rock where it all was said to have begun. The beautiful rock formation in the water has inspired artists and poets for generations, and as I looked upon it I could see why. A short drive or moderate hike from the main city, the formation is certainly not to be missed.

From there I travelled by bus east to the city of Limassol. Being the second largest city on the isle, I heard that the Curium, an ancient abandoned city, held a treasure trove of various artefacts and structures that were not to be missed. With an entry cost of €1.70 there was a huge amount to explore, from ancient mosaics to the real Greco-Roman theatre! The stunning view of the coast from the top of the ancient cliffs alone was enough to justify the long hike up. It is not only one of the most amazing archaeological cities in Cyprus but the whole world.

On my way back to the city my stomach started grumbling and I knew that I needed to find something to eat. Walking past the colourful Golden Sun restaurant I looked at the menu outside and, seeing that the prices were reasonable as they began from €5, I decided to give it a try. Keeping with my ancient themed adventure, I tried a heavenly Cyprian salad with fresh olive oil. It was so good that to this day I still believe that the gods themselves couldn’t make it any better.

Finishing my stay in Cyprus, I wanted to see the capital itself. The jewel of the Mediterranean, Nicosia represented a fusion of the past with the present, culminating various cultures into one. Being a big military buff, the Venetian walls immediately caught my eye. The 16th century structures were marked with various ancient gates; each representing cultural identity, each representing a part of Cyprus.

With the huge walls rising above me, I knew that my journey to Cyprus was coming to a close. Returning back to my hotel I relaxed and took it all in. The air, the sounds, and the ancient places, they all made for a brilliant experience. Simply put: it was beauty personified. It doesn’t get any better than this.


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