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Larnaca (Municipality, Cyprus)


Last modified: 2020-05-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Larnaca - Image by Tomislav Šipek, 24 October 2019

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Presentation of Larnaca

The municipality of Larnaca (51,468 inhabitants in 2015) is Cyprus' third most populated town.

The Larnaca area was the most populous in Cyprus throughout the Bronze Age. The trading of copper and other island products with other civilizations across the Mediterranean required the use of a port, and Larnaca had one of the first in Cyprus, together with a developed sense of "urban" life. With the region continuously inhabited without interruption for about 4,000 years, trade became plentiful. For example, tombs in the town provide evidence of trade exchanges with Egypt since the year 2000 BC.
During the 13th century BC, Larnaca became known as Citium, with ancient myth describing how the town was named after Noah's son, Kittim. Larnaca hosted the great Greek-Mycenaean colonisation in the 13th century BC, as well as the Phoenician colonisation in the 9th century BC. Surviving architectural remains of the 12th century include the Cyclopean walls and, of the 9th century, the Temple of Astarte - Aphrodite, which is described in the Old Testament.

After the Assyrian occupation of Cyprus (709 - 670 BC), Citium became autonomous and very powerful, with its commercial and battle navy very significant within the Eastern Mediterranean. This period of power lasted until the Persian conquest of 546 BC, when the Persians allowed the self-rule of the Citium in return for the provision of having their battle ships armed and ready. The ships of the town fought on the side of the Persians against Egypt and Greece, but the Satrap later blamed the Cypriot crews (being mostly of Greek descent) for the defeat at the naval battle of Salamis (490 BC). They executed the king of Citium and established a new Phoenician dynasty, which lasted until 312 BC. This new dynasty put the nearby Kingdom of Idalion and the whole rural surrounding area under its control.
In the 5th-4th centuries BC, the Cypriot-Phoenician dynasty undertook a vast amount of building and public work, including the port of this period, which was discovered in the early 1990s in a rare and excellent condition. During this period, the Athenian alliance repeatedly attempted to free Cyprus from Persian rule. The Athenian General Kimon, who died in Citium in 449 BC, is regarded a hero of the town to this day. His statue stands proudly on the palm tree lined Foinikoudes promenade of Foinikoudes in Larnaca. Around 329 BC, Alexander the Great succeeded in defeating the Persians on all fronts and Citium lived its last period as an autonomous kingdom.

Citium lived and prospered in the Hellenistic times under the rule of the Ptolemaic Empire of Egypt. At this time, Zeno of Citium and his stoic Athenian philosophy was established and became popular in Greece and Rome. The last Ptolemaic Queen of Cyprus was Cleopatra the Beautiful. She lost Egypt first and then Cyprus (30 BC) after her alliance with the Roman General Anthony and their defeat by the Roman naval power. Zeno's copper statue in the town, confiscated by the Romans, was shipped to Rome with all the other treasures of the Ptolemaic State in Cyprus.
During the 1st century AD, the town had a large Jewish population up until the Roman Imperial Decree of 116. At about the same period, the Phoenicians adopted the Greek language and culture, not only in Cyprus, but also in Phoenicia. Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, passed through the area in 326. She had discovered the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and was carrying it to Constantinople, donating a piece to the Church of the Holy Cross that she built at Stavrovouni, the mountain overlooking the whole of Larnaca. This marked the final Christianisation of the town.

The Arab-Islamic attempt to occupy Cyprus interrupted Byzantine peace in Citium. After the first attempt in 649, the Hala Sultan Teke near the salt lake was founded by the Arabs to honor Um Haram, the Holy Helper and aunt of Mohamed, who escorted her husband and died after falling from her mule. The burial of this holy person made Hala Sultan Teke an important religious place for all Muslims. The Arab attempts against Cyprus continued unsuccessfully for about three centuries. These raids destroyed most of the early Christian monuments in Cyprus, except for the famous mosaic of the 6th century at the Church of Angeloktisti in nearby Kiti. In the 10th century, the Byzantines again restored their rule and the town's famous church of St. Lazar, built in 890 by Emperor Leo the Wise, is regarded as the most important Byzantine monument surviving on the island.
King Richard the Lionheart of England occupied Cyprus in 1190 during the Third crusade but, as he could not rule Cyprus, he first sold it to the Knights Templars and then to his friend Guy of Lusignan, who established a Frankish kingdom on the island, lasting until 1486. This is the period when Citium began to be called L'Arnica in French, eventually morphing into Larnaca. This change of the name is due to the fact that Larnacas (the tombs) was a known borough of the town at that time, which the Franks confused with L'arnica, named after the plant that had once densely covered the area. In the Frankish period, Larnaca was also called Salinas ("salt lakes"), as it was the major port for the export of salt, which was massively produced here. For 90 years, Larnaca served the kingdom as its major port with the king obliged to upgrade the castle for protection.

After the Ottomans landed in Larnaca, it remained the most important port in Cyprus due to its close vicinity to Nicosia. In 1625, the castle was reconstructed, as it can be seen today, to serve as the protector of the Larnaca port. All foreign consuls were based in Larnaca rather than Nicosia, and the town was the most modern and richest in Cyprus. During the Greek revolution of 1821, Larnaca was the center of the Cypriot rebellion against Ottoman rule.
In 1878, Larnaca peacefully received the British navy and army, when the Sultan submitted the island to the Queen for her services in the Turkish-Russian war. The British colonial-style buildings of the palm tree promenade (Foinikoudes) and the pier of the Larnaca Marina were constructed a year after the British occupation to serve trade and administration purposes, as the town was still the most important in Cyprus. In the early years of British rule, Larnaca became the center for Cyprus' modernisation, and the place where the first newspapers of Cyprus were published. However, the construction of a new port in Famagusta by the English - and a railway connecting Famagusta with Nicosia in the 1930s - were reasons for the decline of Larnaca's importance, which by 1960, had become Cyprus' fourth largest city in terms of population.
The island's independence was earned in 1960 and Larnaca had a mixed, predominantly Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot population. The new government constructed a new port and a marina for the city. In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and Larnaca received thousands of forcefully displaced persons from the northern section of the island, at the same time losing its Turkish Cypriot inhabitants.
[Larnaca Tourism Board]

Ivan Sache, 26 October 2019

Flag of Larnaca

The flag of Larnaca (photo, photo) is white with the municipal emblem in the center.
The emblem of Larnaca features a palm tree recalling the Foinikoudes promenade and the bust of the philosopher Zeno of Citium.

Foinikoudes, Larnaca's most famous promenade, is a 600-m long stretch that combines coast, entertainment and culture along its palm tree lined length. The distinctive, towering palm trees were planted in the 1920s and have become a landmark in the town, with the strip attracting large crowds both day and night.< BR> The promenade offers two main cultural landmarks at either end of its length. At the very start is Europe Square with its restored colonial buildings (built in 1881) that now house the Municipal Art Gallery, the Municipal Archives, the Historic Archives Museum and the Larnaca Municipal Cultural Services, along with a fountain graced with a sculpture, "Seagulls in Flight". At the other end - heralding the finish of the strip - is the grand Medieval Castle (Larnaca Fort), believed to have been originally built during the Middle Ages. Opposite the fort is the Kebir (Buyuk) Tzami Mosque - perhaps the first Ottoman mosque in Cyprus.
[Larnaca Tourism Board]

Zeno of Citium (not to be confused with Zeno of Elea) is the founder of the Stoic school. Stoics are best known today for their ethical views on the acceptance of fate. These views derived from their belief that the universe was an animate and rational Being pervaded with soul. The Stoic philosophy was the closest thing to an organized religion of strict pantheism.
Zeno of Citium flourished between 300 and 260 BC. Born in Cyprus, he came to Athens and studied philosophy under the Cynic Crates and the Platonists Xenocrates and Polemo. From Crates he appears to have picked up a contempt for riches - his favorite pastimes, it is said, were eating green figs and basking in the sun. He ate raw food and drank water. Diogenes Laertius reports that he disliked large groups, and would choose the end seat on a couch. After Plato he wrote a Republic advocating that wives should be held in common. Heraclitus appears to be a powerful influence, though he is not mentioned as such.
Zeno seems to have been quite old when he himself began teaching to small groups, in a painted colonnade on the Athenian agora known as Stoa Poikile. Hence the school he founded came to be known as the Stoics. At one point, when he was unable to pay the resident alien's tax, the Athenians sold him into slavery - but he was bought by a friend and freed. Later the Athenians honored him with a golden crown and a large tomb built at public expense.
As with so many ancient philosophers, very little has survived of Zeno's own writing, though Diogenes Laertius provides a very long summary of his ideas and those of the other Stoics.
At the height of Rome's power, Stoicism vied with Epicureanism and Platonism for dominance in the Roman intellectual elite. The emperor Marcus Aurelius was an adherent. But like other rational creeds, as the Roman empire degraded into chaos, Stoicism succumbed to the mystery religions from the East.
[Paul Harrison. World Pantheist Movement]

The capital of the kingdom of Citium is located at the center of the present town of Larnaca, in the area of Pamboula, where the ancient naval port was found. The rural area of the kingdom extended around the district of Larnaca between the areas of the kingdoms of Salamis, with which existed a continual rivalry, and of Αmathous.
The district around the town of ancient Citium was inhabited from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic period, and during the Late Bronze Age the important settlement of Hala Sultan Tekke flourished. This city used as its harbour the present day salt-pan lake, which during this period had an exit to the sea thus ensuring a safe port. Evidence of the harbour and its use is indicated by the stone anchors that have been recovered in the area, and by the excavated materials that highlight the connection with the Near East, Egypt, and the Aegean. By the end of Late Bronze Age (13th century BC) the lake-port was abandoned, most probably due to the silting of its entrance. For this reason the city was moved towards the north, having as a center the district of Pamboula, were there was a small bay which could be used as the new harbour.
Citium was organised as a Mycenaean city comprising cyclopian walls, sanctuaries, an administrative center, and workshops for the exploitation of copper, however the city declined in the 11th century BC during the period of unrest and turmoil that characterises this period. In the 9th Century BC Phoenecian traders who may have origionated from Tyre settled in the city, and by the middle of the century political power of the city and the surrounding area was firmly under their control, thus establishing the first colony west of Phonecia. Citium remained under a Phoenecian king until the Hellenistic period, and throughout its history it mostly supported other powers that were adverse to the surrounding Greek Kingdoms.
As skilful seamen and traders the Phoenicians of Citium advanced the city's interests, and in the Classical period, to incorporate the kingdom of Idalion and buy the kingdom of Tamassos for the exploitation of their copper. They also exploited the kingdom's natural resourses through the export of products such as the oil, indicated by the olive mill of the 3rd century BC at Mari-Kopetra, timber from the forests that existed in the area of Larnaca, and of course the salt from the nearby salt lakes. The imports of products are attested to by the stamps on amphoras from Thasos, Chios, Rhodes, Knidos, and pottery from Athens, Phoenicia, Rhodes, and salted fish from Egypt. The commercial nature of the town is mentioned by various ancient sources, such as Dimosthenes and Lisias, and inscriptions, which mention Citium as the place of commercial activity, and Citium inhabitants as traders settled in various parts, such as Delos, Dimitrias, and Pireaus.
[Th. Theodoulou. The port of the Kingdom of Kition]

Tomislav Šipek & Ivan Sache, 26 October 2019

AEK Larnaca


Flag of Larnaca - Image by Ivan Sache, 24 October 2019

AEK Larnaca (Athletic Union Kition of Larnaca) was established on 18 July 1994 as the merger of the two historical fotball clubs of Larnaca, EPA Larnaca and Pezoporikos.
AEK Larnaca won the Cypriot Cup in 2004 (2-1 to AEL Limassol) and 2018 (2-1 to Apollon Limassol). In 2011-2012, the club defeated Rosenborg (0-0, 1-2) in the UEFA Europa League play-off round, qualifying to the group stage.

The flag of AEK Larnaca (photo) is horizontally divided yellow and green (six stripes) with the club's emblem in the center.
The emblem represents the Athenian General Kimon, who died in a naval battle off Citium in 449 BC.

Located in the center of the Foinikoudes promenade, the bust statue of General Kimon was placed there in the 1920s to honor the Athenian General who was "victorious even in death".
General Kimon aimed to free Cyprus from Persian rule in the 5th century BC, but during the siege of Citium he was taken to his deathbed. Before dying, he urged his officers to conceal his death from both their allies and the Persians. Following victory, his demise was revealed, prompting all to proclaim that even in death, he could defeat his enemies.
[Larnaca Tourism Board]

Ivan Sache, 26 October 2019