Top historic sites in Cyprus

Paphos Castle

Paphos (Pafos) Castle was originally a Byzantine fort built to protect the harbour. It was rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled by the Venetians in 1570 during the Ottoman invasion and rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island in the 16th century. Originally, this role was served by the Saranta Kolones fort, the ruins of which lie a few hundred meters to the north. During its long history ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Kyrenia Castle

The original Kyrenia castle was probably built by Byzantines in the 7th Century to guard the city against the new Arab maritime threat. The first historical reference to the castle occurs in 1191, when King Richard the Lionheart of England captured it on his way to the Third Crusade. He did so by defeating Isaac Comnenus, an upstart local governor who had proclaimed himself emperor. After a short period, Richard sold the ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Kyrenia, Cyprus

Tombs of the Kings

The Tombs of the Kings is an impressive necropolis that is located just outside the walls, to the north and east of Paphos town. It was built during the Hellenistic period (3rd century B.C.) to satisfy the needs of the newly founded Nea Paphos. Its name is not connected with the burial of kings, as the royal institution was abolished in 312 B.C., but rather with the impressive character of its burial monuments. The site w ...
Founded: 300 BC | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

House of Dionysos

The House of Dionysos is a rich Greco-Roman type building where the rooms were arranged around a central court, which functioned as the core of the house. It seems that the house was built at the end of the 2nd century AD. and was destroyed and abandoned after the earthquakes of the 4th century AD. The House of Dionysus occupies 2000 square metres of which 556 are covered with mosaic floors decorated with mythological, vi ...
Founded: c. 190 AD | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

House of Theseus

House of Theseus is a Roman villa built in the second half of the 2nd century AD over the ruins of earlier houses of the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. It was in use until the 7th century AD. The villa"s large size, it consisted of more than 100 rooms, suggests that the building was the residence of the governor of Cyprus. Many of the rooms and three of the four porticos around the central court are covered wi ...
Founded: c. 170 AD | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Saint Hilarion Castle

The Saint Hilarion Castle is the best preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the others being Kantara and Buffavento. Saint Hilarion was originally a monastery, named after a monk who allegedly chose the site for his hermitage, with a monastery and a church built there in the 10th century. Starting in the 11th century, the Byzantines began fortification. Saint Hilarion formed the defense ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Kyrenia, Cyprus

Bellapais Abbey Ruins

Bellapais Abbey, or 'The Abbey of Peace', is the ruin of a monastery built by Canons Regular in the 13th century. The site of the Abbey may have served the Bishops of Kyrenia as a residence, and as a place of refuge from Arab raids in the 7th and 8th centuries. The first occupants known to have settled on or near the site were the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, who had fled Jerusalem after its fall in 118 ...
Founded: 1198-1205 | Location: Bellapais, Cyprus

Kourion

Kourion city endured from antiquity until the early Middle Ages. The city has passed through different phases from a Hellenistic, Roman, and Christian periods. For this reason the city has a very large Agora (market place) and you can find an early Christian Basilica as well within the city walls. Furthermore, large public baths which were equipped with cold, warm and hot spas were built. In the large amphitheatre which s ...
Founded: 4500-3900 BC | Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Kykkos Monastery

The Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos is one of the wealthiest and best-known monasteries in Cyprus.It was founded around the end of the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081 - 1118). The monastery lies at an altitude of 1318 meters on the north west face of Troödos Mountains. There are no remains of the original monastery as it was burned down many times.
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Paphos Forest, Cyprus

Kolossi Castle

Kolossi Castle was a former Crusader castle possibly built in 1210 by the Frankish military, when the land of Kolossi was given by King Hugh I to the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers). Owing to rivalry among the factions in the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, the castle was taken by the Knights Templar in 1306, but returned to the Hospitallers in 1313 following the abolition of the Templars. The pres ...
Founded: 1454 | Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Salamis

The region round the bay of Salamis is one of the most favoured in the whole island and Salamis city became the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1100 BC. The city shared the destiny of the rest of the island during the successive occupations by the various dominant powers of the Near East, viz. the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans. The ancient site covers an area of one square mile extending along the sea shore. ...
Founded: 1100 BC | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

Temple of Aphrodite

The Temple of Aphrodite was officially established by its cult with the construction of a hilltop temple on the important pilgrimage site of Palea Paphos. Although, it is said that the temple was erected in 1500-1300 BC, the idols and coins related to Aphrodite found here date back to 3800 BC. It stood on a knoll about 2 kilometres inland overlooking the sea. Soon, the town of Palea Paphos started forming around the templ ...
Founded: 1500 BC | Location: Kouklia, Cyprus

Khirokitia

In the prehistoric period, Cyprus played a key role in the transmission of culture from the Near East to the European world. Khirokitia or Choirokhoitia is an exceptionally well-preserved archaeological site that has provided, and will continue to provide, scientific data of great importance relating to the spread of civilization from Asia to the Mediterranean world. Both the excavated remains and the untouched part of Ch ...
Founded: 7000 BC | Location: Choirokoitia, Cyprus

Amathus

Amathus was one of the most ancient royal cities of Cyprus. Its ancient cult of Aphrodite was the most important, after Paphos, in Cyprus, her homeland, though the ruins of Amathus are less well-preserved than neighboring Kourion. The pre-history of Amathus mixes myth and archaeology. Though there was no Bronze Age city on the site, archaeology has detected human activity that is evident from the earliest Iron Age, c. 11 ...
Founded: 1100 BC | Location: Limassol, Cyprus

Stavrovouni Monastery

According to religious tradition, the Stavrovouni Monastery was founded by St. Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I, the Great. According to the 15th century Cypriot chronicler Leontios Makhairas, Helena was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when she discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified. She had them excavated and wanted to bring them to Constantinople, but ...
Founded: 327-329 AD | Location: Pyrga, Cyprus

Tenta

Tenta, also known as Kalavasos-Tenta, is a Neolithic settlement which dates back to eighth millennium BC. According to local source, the locality of Tenta was named after St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, pitched her tent on the site when she returned to Cyprus in AD 327 from her trip to Jerusalem, bearing the Cross of the Crucifixion, before the construction of the Stavrovouni Monastery which is located close ...
Founded: 800-700 BC | Location: Larnaca, Cyprus

Trooditissa Monastery

The exact date of the foundation of Trooditissa Monastery, situated on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, is not known. But according to local tradition, the monastery was established immediately after the iconoclastic era (around 990 AD). As with other monasteries, it was preceded by a hermit who resorted there during the years of the iconoclasm. Nothing remains of the monastery of the Middle Byzantine period ...
Founded: c. 990 AD | Location: Troodos, Cyprus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.