Out for a hike in Colombia, South America. Photo taken November 25, 2015.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Culture in Cyprus

Nestling in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus is the last stop in Europe before you hit the Middle East. Its subtropical climate, warm seas and beautiful beaches make it the perfect place to kick back and relax no matter what time of year you travel.

There’s a lot more to Cyprus than sun, sea, and sand though - the country is steeped in culture, history and tradition.

And while more than 10,000 years of tradition make it all but impossible to pin down the essence of Cypriot culture, we’ll definitely give it a go!

Capital of Culture 2017

Paphos should be the first port of call for any culture vulture, not least because it is European Capital of Culture 2017 and so the arts and architecture will be taking top billing over the next few years.

The city was founded in the 4th Century BC and some of the ruins there pre-date even then - the Sanctuary of Aphrodite dates back to the 12th century BC and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Ancient Odeon was built when the city was founded and is still in use today, housing one of the many festivals that take place over the summer months. If festivals are your thing, September’s Jazz Festival and the three-day Dionysia festival are well worth a look.

Take a trip to the mountains

Heading away from the coastline and towards the imposing Troodos mountain range and you’ll find a 9,000 hectare UNESCO National Forest Park dotted with picturesque villages, Byzantine architecture and some of the island’s finest vineyards and wineries.

To take in traditional Cypriot architecture and Byzantine churches, head to the Solea valley in the north of the range or the villages of Kalopanagiotis, Moutoullas and Pedoulas in the west, or head south to the cobbled streets of Omodos.

The southern slopes is also home to a number of the island’s vineyards and wineries if wine-tasting is your thing.

Marvellous museums

If you want to dig into the region’s rich history, there are some great museums dotted around the island. Nicosia’s Cyprus Museum has artefacts that date from the Neolithic to the late Roman period, while the city’s Leventis Municipal Museum has even more on the island’s early culture and settlements.

The Byzantine Museum and Art Galleries, also in Nicosia, house the island’s largest collection of period pieces, paintings and maps.

Alternatively, take a trip to Limassol to see Cyprus’ only collection of historic vehicles at the Classic Motor Museum.

Eat, drink and be merry

Food and drink is at the heart of Cypriot culture, and so it would be remiss to not take in as many of the local delicacies as possible while you’re over there.

Again, the towns and villages in the Troodos mountains are a great place to try the local cuisine, in particular the villages of Galata and Kakopetria in the northern Solea Valley region, while the coastal restaurants will cook up some of the best seafood dishes you’ll ever taste.

And with a winemaking tradition that goes back some 6,000 years - predating some of Europe’s most well-known wineries - try out some of the island’s traditional mosxatos sweet wine or maratheftiko red, particularly those from Limassol’s Ayia Mavri and Vasa wineries.

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