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Larnaca, Cyprus » City Info » History

Cyprus has an interesting history which has contributed substantially to the city of Larnaca.


In ancient times Larnaca was known as Kition as it is believed that Noah's grandson, Khittim, established the first settlement about 6000 years ago. The modern name of the city; which means coffins in Greek ('larnax') was derived because of the many burial sites found on Kition settlements. While other settlements in Cyprus were abandoned later, Larnaca developed into a city because of its ancestors who inhabited it continuously.

Mycenaean age

Archaeologically, the earliest remains trace Larnaca to the Mycenaean age. Once, it was a major colony for the Phoenician rulers, but it achieved its true status during the Hellenistic Age.
The Mycenaean Greeks formed the Kition Kingdom in 13th century B.C. during which it was a major port and a trader in copper. The prosperity of the Kingdom can be viewed through the excavations of Cyclopean walls and Mycenaean temples.

Crossroad of civilization

Due to its prime location in the Mediterranean region, Larnaca has always attracted a lot of external rulers. Cyprus has been at the mercy of many conquerors, be it the Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Franks, Venetians, Turks or British rulers. The main reason for invading the city of Larnaca was due to its location as a port as well as its richness in minerals and other resources.

Byzantine age

Though many rulers attacked Larnaca, one of the most important ones were the Byzantines. Historically they left behind many remains and monuments such as Basilica of Saint Lazarus. During this time the city enjoyed stability and prospered as they traded with the rest of Europe.
When the Ottomans landed in Larnaca, the port basked in the glory of being an important diplomatic and commercial center of Cyprus.

The British who ruled Cyprus for about eighty-two years, first landed in Larnaca. It was during their rule that the port developed its own distinct identity in modern Cyprus as it developed very fast. This lasted till the Turks attacked Cyprus in 1974, where it won and Larnaca alone welcomed 40,000 refugees.