Historical Introduction

by KOEAS

A country’s cultural heritage is the most important living treasure of its people. It is through it that its identity can be expressed and an awareness of its historical continuity through time can be created. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. It is situated at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. This geographic position has since antiquity played an important part in the island’s turbulent history. Its prehistoric age inhabitants were joined by the Mycenaean Greeks 3500 years ago, who introduced and established their civilisation, thus permanently instilling the island’s Greek roots. Many other cultures followed since then, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans, British, all leaving behind visible traces of their passage. On this island once walked Christ’s apostles. The splendour of the Byzantine Empire for many centuries encapsulated Cyprus. The island is an open- air museum, where one can visit prehistoric settlements, classical Greek temples, Roman theatres and villas, Early Christian Basilicas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles, Gothic cathedrals, Venetian fortifications, Muslim mosques and British colonial-style buildings. In the villages one can still observe old ways of life, customs and traditions. Here, festivities whose origins hark back to the depths of antiquity are still being celebrated.