Postcard from Cyprus

, by Pierre Le Mouel, Translated by Juuso Järviniemi

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Postcard from Cyprus
Photograph by Pierre Le Mouel.

This summer, you can read our French sister edition Le Taurillon’s summer print version edited for JEF-France’s Europe En Vacances project. It’s an occasion to get readers to travel around with the help of postcards. Today’s postcard comes from Cyprus!

Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, the forgotten small country at the east of the Mediterranean

Often mixed up with Malta or Crete, Cyprus is truly a little gem. It’s hot (actually very hot in the summer – 40 degrees!), the water is beautiful and the Cypriots are welcoming – what else could you ask for? Despite its small size, its multimillennial cultural and natural heritage can proudly rival those of the old lands of the continent.

Are you dreaming of Mediterranean nature? Whether you are in the peninsula of Akamas in the south or the Karpass Peninsula in the north, the landscapes are sublime. Hike in the Troodos Mountains amid astonishing verdure, while just thirty minutes earlier you were dying of heat in arid scenery. Go discover a fresh cascade or a traditional village in the shadow of pine trees. Or instead find nests of Mediterranean tortoises and admire the hatching of eggs in the middle of the summer. All of that on sandy beaches ending in warm, clear waters that are just as good as in the Caribbean.

Or do you prefer history? 14,000 years of human settlement, from the Bronze Age to Ottoman Renaissance, without forgetting the Greeks and their Vouni Palace overlooking an azure, sunkissed bay from atop a cliff, or the Romans and their extraordinary Mosaics of Paphos, or the Byzantines and their painted churches listed by UNESCO, or the French and their castles on the bald summits of the Pentadaktylos mountain, or the Venetians and their impressive murals in Famagusta and Nicosia. The island is immersed in history, and will strike you with the quantity and quality of the sites that you can find during a walk, or on a detour from your route.

Do you above all want to eat well and laze about? Between the natural beaches of Akamas or Karpass, allow yourself to be tempted by the eastern coast and the area of Strovolos where turquoise and transparent water lulls you while you get your legs tanned on tropical white sand. Beware: you won’t be alone with this idea! For food, there’s no shortage of options. From traditional cuisine in the form of mezes that will fill you with culinary pleasure and joy of amicable sharing (yes, a meze is enormous, you will see), to a little souvlaki eaten on the street, or pide prepared in front of you for a little traditional, incredibly good snack, you can’t avoid feeling full!

Finally, for the intellectuals among us who like observing, reflecting, and exceptional political configurations, come remind yourself of what a militarised border is like. Find the Green Line that will remind you, in each street corner in the old town of Nicosia, of the fact that fifty years ago people were killing each other on nationalistic motivations. Pass through the checkpoints; visit each side of the still divided island; see the flags fighting a visual battle on either side of the demarcation line; feel the difference between the north and the south of this small island, two sides that have taken different paths without having any contact in 44 years! All of that without a risk, in security and always warmly welcomed. [1]

Even if we never really think about it, Cyprus is a European country. With the island located directly to the south from Anatolia, 150 kilometres from the Syrian coasts and 70 from the Turkish ones, Cypriots will tell you that “there’s a bit of Asia and a bit of Europe here”. So if you fancy a complete change of scenery, don’t hesitate for a second! Come explore Cyprus!


[1Translator’s note: Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided between the Republic of Cyprus in the south, and a Turkish-occupied area in the north. All foreign governments apart from Turkey, as well as the United Nations, recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island.

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