RELIGIOUS CYPRUS


 

LARNACA | SAINT LAZARUS | NICOSIA | TROODOS MOUNTAINS | PATH OF APOSTLES |HOLY CROSS

8 DAYS


Cyprus is rich in religious monuments and churches of cultural importance from all ages. Fully aware of the unique contribution of Christianity on the island, through our day by day program you will experience the important ecclesiastical monuments, museums, the unique churches.

DAY 1:    ARRIVAL IN LARNACA
Our guests will be welcomed and greeted by Drakos uniformed guide at Larnaca or Paphos International airport. During the transfer by a/c mini bus or coach, our guide will outline the program, making suggestions for free time and offering general information on Cyprus. An advance registration will be arranged, so there will be no need for the guests to queue to check in and by the time they reach their rooms, their luggage will be there. After a welcome drink, our guests will have some time to relax and enjoy the hotel’s facilities.
Lunch and afternoon at leisure. Dinner will be served at the hotel (on half board terms). Overnight at the chosen hotel in Larnaca.

DAY 2:    IN SEARCH OF CHRISTIANITY - SAINT LAZARUS & ANGELOKTISTI
Buffet breakfast at the hotel in a private reserved area. After breakfast our guests will meet the for a full day tour of Larnaca. Our excursion takes us to the city of Larnaca, built on the ruins of Kition, as the town used to be known, which was one of the several ancient city kingdoms of the island. After a short city tour we visit the cathedral of St. Lazarus, the first bishop of Kition, originally built in 900 AD. With three large domes and decorated with an impressive iconostasis; tradition says that the place of Lazarus' tomb was lost during the period of Arab rule beginning in 649. In 890, a tomb was found in Larnaca bearing the inscription Lazarus the friend of Christ. Emperor Leo VI of Byzantium had the Church of St. Lazarus erected over Lazarus' tomb in the late 9th century. Thereafter we continue to the Pierides private museum where over 6000 exhibits present the 10,000 year history of the island. Our guests will have free time to enjoy their lunch at leisure.
We continue to the Tekke Mosque of Hala Sultan, an important place of pilgrimage for the island’s Muslims. And the village of Kiti, which hosts the church of Angeloktistos with its magnificent mosaics dating to the early Christian period believed to be built by Angels. Late in the afternoon we will return back to the hotel. Dinner will be served in a private reserved area at the Hotel (on half board terms). Overnight at the chosen hotel n Larnaca.

DAY 3:    STROLLING FROM THE NEOLITHIC ERA TO THE MIDDLE AGES
Buffet breakfast at the hotel in a private reserved area. Check out from the hotel in Larnaca. After breakfast the group will be driven from Larnaca to Limassol. Our first stop will be Lefkara village, which is renowned for its unique architecture, charming narrow streets and limestone built houses. Lefkara is celebrated for its magnificent lace making. It is where Leonardo Da Vinci purchased the lace cloth masterpiece with which he decorated the altar of Milan in 1481. Visitors can walk through the narrow winding streets to discover the silversmiths and the lace-makers, whose designs follow the time-honoured traditions of their forefathers.
Our next visit will be Khirokitia, the oldest Neolithic settlement in Cyprus, which has been a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. The site dates from 7000 BC and is renowned for its characteristic cylindrical shape dwellings which unveil information about the living conditions in the region during the prehistoric times.
Our next stop will be the Amathus archaeological site. Amathus is one of the ancient city Kingdoms of Cyprus where according to the mythology, Greek hero Theseus left the pregnant Ariadne to be attended by a local woman. Amathus was an important site of worshiping the goddess Aphrodite –Astarte.
Our tour will then take us to the medieval Castle of Limassol, where according to tradition, after conquering the island in 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England married Princess Berengaria of Navarre in the castle’s small chapel.
The castle itself is surrounded by the old town’s winding shopping streets where visitors can bargain with the local shopkeepers for handicrafts and visit one of the town’s many coffee shops. The guests will have some free time to stroll around and enjoy their lunch at leisure. Late in the afternoon we will check-in at the hotel in Limassol. Dinner (on half board terms) and overnight at the chosen hotel in Limassol.

DAY 4:    NICOSIA - CHRISTIANITY´S HISTORICAL CROSSROAD
After breakfast the group will meet with our guide for a full day tour of Nicosia. Nicosia, or Lefkosia, lies roughly at the centre of the island, with a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age. Today, it blends its historic past brilliantly with the bustle of a modern city. The heart of the city, enclosed by the  16th  century Venetian walls, is dotted with museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings preserving the nostalgic atmosphere of years past. The famous Famagusta Gate still stands today, proudly protecting the still-ancient town within from the modern city without.
From there, we will drive to the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and its 13th and 18th century wall paintings; depicting scenes from the Bible and the discovery of the tomb of St. Barnabas in Salamis. Enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the capital of Cyprus with a visit to the prominent Archaeological museum with its fascinating collection of Cypriot antiquities and treasures from the Neolithic age to the Early Byzantine period.
After a passing the Venetian walls of the old city and Famagusta Gate, we arrive at Laiki Geitonia. Our guests will have free time to stroll at leisure down its stone paved streets and enjoy lunch at leisure. To enhance our cultural discovery guests will explore the Byzantine museum in the afternoon and its exceptional selection of Byzantine icons covering the period between the 9th and the 18th century. Afterwards, we will cross the Green Line into the Northern part of Nicosia. There our guests will visit Ayia Sophia which was built in 1209 and resembles the famous mediaeval cathedrals of France. Today it has been converted to the Selimiye Mosque. Guests can also explore the Bedestan, the ruins of Agios Nicolaos and Büyük Khan; one of the most important architectural works of the Ottoman period, within the city walls. Dinner (on half board terms) and overnight at the chosen hotel in Limassol.

DAY 5:    TROODOS MOUNTAINS: GUARDIANS OF FAITH, HISTORY & TRADITION
Buffet breakfast at the hotel in a private reserved area After breakfast the group will meet with our guide for a full day tour of the Troodos Mountains and particularly the famous Byzantine churches of the area.
We will drive from Limassol via picturesque villages and pine scented forests to Troodos and the Mount Olympus (1951 meters).
Our first stop will be the church of Archangel Michael, situated in the lowest part of Pedoulas village. It is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates to 1474. It has a pitched wooden roof typical of the Troodos churches. The wall paintings are in the local post-Byzantine style that was popular prior to Venetian rule.
We will continue to visit the church of Agios Ioannis Lambadistis, originally a monastery which was built in 1731. It is a complex of three churches: Agios Irakleidios, Ioannis Lambadistis and a Latin chapel- all under a single pitched roof. The church is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The icon of Lambadistis dates to 1543. The Latin Chapel contains the most complete series of Italo-Byzantine paintings in Cyprus.
From there we will proceed to Kykkos, the most famous and richest monastery on the island. Founded in 1100 and dedicated to Virgin Mary, it possesses one of the three surviving icons ascribed to St. Luke. The Kykkos Museum is an integral part of the monastery and houses a priceless collection of icons, consecrated vessels, manuscripts and Cypriot antiquities.
Free time will be given for lunch at leisure in a local restaurant en route.  From Kykkos we will drive back to Limassol. Dinner in a private reserved area and overnight at the chosen hotel in Limassol.

DAY 6:    FOLLOW THE PATH OF APOSTLES PAUL & BARNABAS
Buffet breakfast at the hotel in a private reserved area. After breakfast the group will meet with our guide for a full day tour of Paphos. Legend has it that Paphos was home of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love. Still under the spell of the goddess, the area retains her magic and has remained intact by time. It seduces its visitor with its majestic landscape, lovely coastline and historical treasures.
Paphos itself is a leading cultural centre of the Mediterranean and the whole town is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Wherever one treads in Paphos one comes across a glorious history which dates back thousands of years, when the cult of goddess Aphrodite flourished in this beautiful part of the world attracting many visitors from inland and abroad.
Our first stop will be the Church of Panayia Chrysopolitissa, built in the 13th century over the ruins of the largest Early Byzantine basilica on the island. Within the compound one can see St. Paul's Pillar, where according to tradition; the saint was flogged before the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus converted to Christianity. The floor of the basilica was covered with colourful mosaics, some of which are still preserved today.
We will continue to visit the Paphos archaeological site. The city is home to Mosaics of the Roman period, dating from around the 3rd century AD. These are situated in four main houses: the House of Aion, House of Dionysos, House of Orpheus and House of Theseus. They include many attention-grabbing geometrical decorations and draw inspiration from Greek mythological scenes. Our guests can enjoy their meal at leisure at the Limanaki of Paphos with stunning views of the fishing harbour and the medieval castle of Paphos.
In the afternoon we will visit the Monastery of Ayios Neophytos which was founded at the end of the 12th century by the Cypriot hermit and writer Neophytos. It contains some of the most beautiful icons of the Post-Byzantine period of the 16th century and an ecclesiastical museum. While the Egleistra, an enclosure carved out of the mountain by the hermit, contains some of the finest Byzantine frescoes dating from the 12th to the 15th century.
On our way back to Limassol our last stop will be the church of Ayia Paraskevi in Yersokipou village, which was built in the 9th century AD; This is one of the most interesting and beautiful Byzantine churches in Cyprus, a renowned for its five-domed roof built in a basilica architecture.
In the late afternoon, we will return back to the hotel for guests to relax and freshen up before their dinner.
Dinner (on half board terms) and overnight at the Caravel hotel in Limassol.

DAY 7:    WORSHIP OF THE HOLY CROSS
Buffet breakfast at the hotel in a private reserved area. After breakfast the group will meet with our guide for a full day tour of Limassol and Omodos. Passing though plantations; we come across the medieval Castle of Kolossi. It is a fine example of military architecture originally constructed in the 13th century during the crusades.  After the Siege of Acre in 1291, it served as the Grand Commanderie of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem; and thus gave its name to the world famous Commandaria wine, which is still produced in the area.
Our next visit, the ancient Kingdom of Kourion, is placed on one of the most spectacular sites in the island, with extensive archaeological ruins including well-preserved mosaics. Its Greco-Roman amphitheatre, built in the second century BC, is famous for its vistas of the Mediterranean Sea. Fully restored, the theatre is today used for musical and theatrical performances. The kingdom is also renowned for its preserved mosaic floors in the House of Eustolios, the House of Achilles and the House of the Gladiators.
Our excursion takes us to Omodos, a traditional Cypriot wine producing village, was once the property of Sir John De Brie, Prince of Galilee.
The village is also renowned for its Monastery of the Holy Cross standing by the stone-paved square. Apart from its byzantine era icons, it holds excellent wood carvings and other ecclesiastical objects of interest, as well as a small national museum. The arrival of St. Helen in Cyprus is an important moment demonstrating the respect and devotion shown to the Holy Cross. She anchored off Cyprus on her return from the Holy Land and built several monasteries, one of which is the monastery of the Holy Cross in Omodos. According to the legend, St. Helen left there a fragment of the holy cross together with a piece from the rope with which Christ was tight to the cross.
To add to the Cyprus experience, the guests will be invited to enjoy a local Cypriot coffee.
Our guests can enjoy their meal at leisure in a local tavern. Visitors can stroll around the village’s winding streets and mingle with the locals, walk around for some shopping at the various small shops selling traditional Cypriot items such as crafts, lace and local delights. In the late afternoon, we will return back to the hotel.
Dinner (on half board terms) and overnight at the chosen hotel in Limassol.

DAY 8:    DEPARTURE
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Our driver will meet the guests at the lobby of the hotel to assist them for their transfer to Larnaca or Paphos Airport.
Bon Voyage!


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