Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Paphos and Kourion Tour, Cyprus

On Monday we took a bus tour to the southwest side of Cyprus to see Paphos and Kourion.  The first stop was at Kourion.

Κούριον was an important area during the Roman period when it was known as Curium.

The Greco-Roman theatre was excavated by the University of Pennsylvania from 1935 - 1950.

Above the theatre is the House of Eustolios which was excavated in 1933 and 1948.  The house was built in the late 4th or early 5th century.  The house had over 30 rooms and was occupied until the mid-7th century.

The next stop was Paphos, with a population of about 33,000, is the 5th largest city on the island.  Πάφος is is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Paphos Castle is located at the edge of the harbour.  Originally it was a Byzantine fort, built in the 7th century, but over the years it has been a fortress, a prison, and even a salt warehouse.

The House of Dionysus was the first house discovered in Paphos with mosaic floors.  The house dates back to the 2nd - 4th century.

The Narcissus mosaic is from the late 2nd - early 3rd century.

The mosaics in the House of Aion date back to the 4th century.

The House of Theseus dates back to the Roman period during the 2nd century.

Sarasota Kolones was a Byzantine castle that was most likely built at the end of the 7th century.  It was destroyed in 1222 by an earthquake.

Ayia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa Church was built around 1500.

In 45 AD, the Apostle Paul visited Cyprus as a missionary.  Before he converted the local Roman proconsul to Christianity, St. Paul ran in to trouble being a Christian missionary.  He was tied to this white pillar and flogged 35 times.

After Paphos we made a quick stop in Geroskipou.  Γεροσκήπου is home to about 7,000 people.  It's also home to Ayia Paraskevi which is a rare five-domed Byzantine church.

The town is also well-known for "lokum."  Turkish Delight is a confection of starch and sugar that is eaten in small cubes dusted with powdered sugar to keep it from clinging.  Some of the most common flavours are rosewater, organic, lemon, liquorice, pistachio, mint, cinnamon, and orange.

The Rock of Aphrodite is a popular tourist stop.  Legend has it that this is where the goddess Aphrodite was born.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nicosia, Northern Cyprus

Turkish Cypriot side of the Ledra Street crossing
The northern part of Nicosia is the largest city and capital of Northern Cyprus.

There are almost 83,000 people in the metro area.

The Turkish part of Lefkoşa is a bit more weathered than the Greek Cypriot side.  And for sure less expensive, with lots of discount shopping.  The northern side also seems to have more of a historical feel.

Büyük Han, the Great Inn, was built by the Ottomans in 1572.  It's the largest caravanserai on Cyprus with 68 rooms and a small courtyard mosque in the centre.  It was renovated in the 1990s and is now home to galleries, souvenir stands, and cafes.

Kumarcilar Han, the Gambler's Inn, was a caravanserai believed to have been built in the 17th century.  The inn contained 56 rooms but is currently closed.  The building is in a sad state of disrepair as there has been a shortage of funds for reconstruction.

Büyük Hamam is the local Turkish bath.  The building used to be the Church of St. George which opened in 1309.  In 1590 it became a Turkish bath.  It was renovated in 2007-2008.

At Atatürk Square is the Venetian Column.  The Venetians, who were here prior to the Ottomans taking over, brought it here from Salamis in 1550.

Haydarpaşa Mosque is in a Gothic building built in the 14th century.  It used to be St. Catherine's Church before being converted into a mosque following Ottoman rule.

The Selimiye Mosque was originally the St. Sophia Cathedral.  The Gothic building was constructed from 1209 - 1228.  In 1571 it became the largest mosque on the island.  Although I'm not sure if it is still the largest or not.

The Mausoleum of İttik Dede is the tomb of a nameless man who was martyred in 1570 when the Ottomans took over Nicosia.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia is the largest city on Cyprus with a population over 300,000 people.  The U.N. peace line runs through the city dividing it in two.  The southern side is called Λευκωσία, in Greek, and it is the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.  The northern side is called Lefkoşa,  in Turkish, and it is the capital of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The area has been continuously inhabited since the Bronze Age in 2500 BC.  Nicosia has been the island's main city since the 10th century.
The Panagia Phaneromeni church was built in 1792.  It is the largest Orthodox Church inside of the old town.  The church was built on the site of a former nunnery.
The Agios Savvas parish church was built in 1850 - 1851.
The Archbishop's Palace is one of the city's biggest attractions.  It was completed in 1961, a year after Cyprus gained independence.
The Liberty Monument honours the island's struggle for independence.  It was built in 1973.
The Omeriye Mosque used to be an Augustinian church and monastery.  It was converted in to a mosque in 1571.
The Ledra Street crossing was opened in April 2008.  Today this is the border crossing between Cyprus and Northern Cyprus.  I just had to show my passport on each side.  Fortunately no one stamped my passport because I'm running very low on blank pages.  

Larnaca, Cyprus

Larnaca sits on the south coast of Cyprus and was originally founded in the 9th century.  Originally built on the what used to be Kition.  Today Λάρνακα is the third-largest city on the island with with a population just over 84,500.

Foinikoudes is the palm tree lined promenade along the beach.

There's a bust of Kimon the Athenian, the mid 5th century BC statesman who founded the famous Stoic school of philosophy.

The Church of Saint Lazarus was built in the late 9th century.  The church is supposed to be built over the second tomb of Lazarus of Bethany who, in the New Testament, Jesus raised from the dead.

The Medieval castle was founded in the 12th century by the Byzantines.  Today it hosts a museum and a garden theatre.

The Larnaca town hall is on the promenade between a KFC and a T.G.I. Friday's.

The Mosque of Umm Haram, also known as Hala Sultan Tekke, is a shrine on the west bank of the Larnaca Salt Lake. It was built in 1787 and it is one of the most important holy places in Islam. The mosque is built over the tomb of Umm Haram who was the Prophet Mohammed's wet nurse.

The Larnaca Salt Lake has a surface area of 2.2 km² and is a protected area.  The lake is a stop on the migratory path of the greater flamingo so it's popular with birdwatchers.  In winter the lake fills with water that evaporates in the summer leaving a crust of salt.

The Armenian Genocide Memorial marks the spot where thousands of refugees fleeing the Armenian Genocide first landed in Cyprus.  The monument was unveiled in 2008 and is dedicated to both the martyrs and survivors of the 1915-1923 Genocide.

The Panagia Angeloktisti is an 11th century Byzantine church.  Legend has it that angels came down from heaven and built the church at night.

The Kamares Aqueduct was built in 1747.  Also known as the Bekir Pasha Aqueduct, it is regarded as the most important thing constructed during the Ottoman period in Cyprus.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hersonissos, Greece

Hersonissos is a small town on Crete about 25 km (15 miles) from Heraklion.  It is home to about 26,000 people and is a popular with tourists for a beach holiday in Greece.

Χερσόνησος, was very popular with the troops who were stationed at Iraklion Air Station.  It is about 10 km (6 miles) from where the base used to be.

We used to call it ¨the Ville.¨
Old Roman fountain

We would go enjoy the beach during the day and go back at night to drink and party in the discos with all of the European tourists.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Iraklion Air Station

Iraklion Air Station was 16 km (10 miles) east of Heraklion near the villages of Gournes.  The base was in use during the Cold War from 1954 to 1993.  The facility finally closed and was turned over to the Greek government in 1994.

Iraklion was an Electronic Security Command listening post.  It was home to the 6931st Electronic Security Command and the 7276th Air Base Group.

I remember that lots of people wanted an assignment to Iraklion.  I loved that it was only a 10-minute walk from the dorms to the beach.  I was really lucky to get stationed here as my last base.

The facility is more or less abandoned.  The old base exchange is now the village's city hall and a few buildings are used as part of a school.  The main feature now is the aquarium.

The old base fire station

The rest of the place is a mess.  Lots of vandalism and graffiti with weeds overtaking everything.

Former dorms

Walking around it felt like I was in one of those zombie apocalypse movies.  The whole experience was pretty surreal especially the entry gate with no one there to check your ID.

I found this old newcomer's video produced by the public affairs office our on YouTube. It was made in the late 80s or very early 90s.  I remember receiving a VHS copy of this video when I first received my orders for Iraklion.