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Cyprus Towns & Villages - Ayia Napa

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Information on the town of Ayia Napa in Cyprus

Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa      Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Ayia Napa (Greek: Αγία Νάπα, pronounced [aˈʝa ˈnapa]; Turkish: Aya Napa) is a resort at the far eastern end of the southern coast of Cyprus, famous for its sandy beaches. In recent years, apart from being a family holiday destination, it has become a "party capital" with Ibiza, Rimini, and Mykonos. As of late, it has become particularly popular with the familiar UK-originated music such as dubstep, drum and bass, grime, house, and garage artists.

Etymology

The name Ayia Napa is derived from a Venetian-era monastery of the same name, located in the centre of the town, next to the square that today is the clubbing centre. The word "Ayia" (Agia) means "holy" in Greek. "Napa" is archaic and means "wooded valley" or dell. In ancient times the area surrounding the town was covered with thick forest.

History

According to local legend, the now renowned original icon was accidentally discovered by a hunter in pursuit of his prey. Upon discovery, the icon of the Virgin Mary was called Virgin Mary of Napa, eventually shortened and now known as Ayia Napa. The present monastery, built in 1500, was built around the cave, in honour of the Virgin Mary of Ayia Napa. According to local tradition, until 1790 no one lived within close vicinity of Ayia Napa. The first inhabitants who actually appeared and settled were twenty men from Salonica, Greece.

Geography

Geographically, Ayia Napa lies near Cape Greco at the eastern part of Cyprus, just south of Famagusta and forms part of a larger area known as Kokkinochoria (a name derived from the red colour of its soil). It is a town of Famagusta District, in the remaining southern part of the district not occupied by Turkish forces in 1974. Ayia Napa is about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Protaras, a town that has recently seen similar development, but still manages to remain low-key and remains more favourable for families and Cypriot locals.

Tourism

Ayia Napa attracts a large number of tourists and features a number of bathing beaches, on which water sports such as water-skiing, windsurfing, canoeing, scuba diving and speed boating are popular. The Cyprus Tourism Organization supervises the beaches and is responsible for protecting the interests of all tourists. The most popular of these beaches is Nissi beach, which is visited mainly by younger people in the summer and gets quite crowded; it offers great water sports facilities.

Another is the Harbour beach (also known as Limanaki (CTID) or Pantahou beach), which is one of Cyprus' longest, and the longest in Ayia Napa. Harbour beach caters more for families. The New Golden Bay (or Lanta / Landa beach as it is known to the locals) is less crowded, but there are still a number of activities available. Several hotels and apartments are situated on Nissi Road, including Nissi Beach Hotel, Kaos Hotel Apartments among others. All beaches in Ayia Napa have been awarded the EU blue flag for their level of cleanliness and facilities. Cyprus, with 53 Blue Flag beaches, has three records:

the most Blue Flags per capita in the world
the most dense concentration of Blue Flag Beaches
the most Blue Flag beaches and per coastline length in the world.

Beach parties are another popular form of entertainment in Ayia Napa.

The Square, central to the town, is filled with high end restaurants, night clubs and shops, such as The Castle Club, Club Sin, and Nikita's Steak House. Ayia Napa has changed its image somewhat over the years, from a fishing village to a Mediterranean paradise and has now found its place as a multicultural town, catering to all tastes.

Cape Greco is a ten-minute drive from the centre of Ayia Napa and is considered one of the most beautiful places on the island offering sightseeing, cliff jumping and a variety of other activities.

Monastery

Ayia Napa Monastery is the best known landmark of the Ayia Napa area. It has a charm that represents a time when Ayia Napa was a sleepy fishing village. It seems that in ancient times, the location where the monastery and the village exists today, was covered by thick forest, visited only by hunters from the neighbouring villages.

Museums And Ruins

The town contains a number of museums. The Tornaritis - Pierides Museum of Marine Life was founded in June 1992 in Ayia Napa and is located at the lower level of the Town hall. It exhibits past and present marine life, scientifically classified. Its main purpose is to show the marine fauna of Cyprus and the Mediterranean, helping the study and research of this part of Natural History, but also to stress the importance and necessity of preserving the marine environment.

Thalassa, the Municipal Museum of the Sea in Ayia Napa, is dedicated to the enhancement, promotion and preservation of the marine heritage of Cyprus, from prehistoric times to the present. Located at the centre of Agia Napa, the Museum displays marine artifacts and serves as a centre for educational programmes and community cultural events. The Museum houses sculptures, engravings, ceramics and paintings of seascapes made by some of the greatest 19th and 20th century Greek and Cypriot artists.

The Makronissos Tombs are found west of Ayia Napa village. They are an ancient burial site, located at a stepped road, which leads down to a rectangular entrance. The entrances were originally closed with one large or two smaller calcarenke slabs.

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