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Whether you call it Larnaca or Scala, it is still a city that stands as one of Cyprus's true gems. Larnaca is the third largest city on the island, with a population of more than 75,000 residents. Discover Larnaca's hidden beauties, through picturesque walks around its stone-paved streets. "Bathe" in the eastern scents of the city from the moment you land at its airport, admiring the majestic mosque of Hala Sultan Tekke, built beside the salt lake of Larnaca and surrounded by palm trees. In fact, if you happen to visit the city in October, you will also have the opportunity to see the flamingos arriving to the salt lake to pass the winter, choosing the soft climate of the season. Along a coastline that is approximately 7 kilometers long, extending from the airport to the harbor of Larnaca, you can enjoy a walk on the blue flag Mackenzie Beach, decorated with palm trees all along its distance, and continue towards Kastella Beach, also the recipient of a blue flag for its deep blue waters. You will find dozens of cafeterias and restaurants, ready to welcome you for a coffee or a meal. Moving on to the center of the city, you will reach Finikoudes Beach, located at the side of the Larnaca marina. It won't take you long to reach the harbor. The beauty of Larnaca, however, doesn't end here. The center of the city, as well as the surrounding villages, have many stories to tell and many images to paint about the past, which will remain deep in your memory for a long time.
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Larnaca is one of the most ancient and most important cities of Cyprus. Over the centuries, the city has accommodated the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and British.
The story of Larnaca, also known as Kition, is said to go back to biblical times; it is believed that Kittim, the grandson of Noah, established the very first settlement about 6,000 years ago.
The advantageous site of Larnaca attracted a long list of merchants, invaders and conquerors as the centuries went by, although it was the era of the Byzantine empire that had the most impact on the history of the city. The Byzantines built the most important monuments, which survive to this day, such as the Church of Saint Lazarus.
In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire engulfed Cyprus, and Larnaca became a major hub of the Mediterranean region. The Larnaca Castle and Hala Sultan Tekke are remnants from that period. The Ottomans were succeeded by the British, who assumed control over Cyprus in 1878, and Larnaca was used as a port of entry, while its castle was turned into a prison. Larnaca remained a major centre of the island until 1960, when Cyprus gained its independence.
Church of Saint Lazarus
According to local tradition, Lazarus, after he was raised from the dead, went and settled in Larnaca for another 30 years, where he was ordained Bishop of Kition. When he ultimately died, he was buried in the spot where the majestic Church of Saint Lazarus is currently standing. The church was built in the 9th century by the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Wise and was restored in the 17th century. The church hosts impressive paintings of Holy Mary and Baby Jesus, Saint George and the Dragon, as well as a silver icon of Saint Lazarus that dates back to 1659. Opposite the courtyard of the church is the Byzantine Museum, which hosts a collection of religious icons and relics.
Seftalies are a traditional specialty of Larnaca and wider Cyprus, and no visitor to the island should miss trying out this exquisite food. Seftalies are prepared with ground pork, kneaded with parsley and onions into a long meatball, which is afterwards wrapped in suet and grilled over coals. Locals and visitors consume large volumes of seftalies in Cyprus each year. In fact, one of the locals' favorite dishes is the mix pitta, which essentially includes pork souvlaki, seftalies and various vegetables wrapped in pitta bread.