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Cyprus Towns & Villages - Limassol

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Information on Limassol, the second largest city in Cyprus

Limassol Old Town                   Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Limassol or Lemesos (Greek: Λεμεσός, Lemesós; Turkish: Limasol or Leymosun; Armenian: Լիմասոլ) is the second-largest city in Cyprus. Limassol municipality has a population of 101,000, while the metropolitan area has a population of 183,656. It is the largest city in geographical size, and Limassol municipality is the largest and most populous on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Bay on the island's southern coast, and it is the capital of Limassol District, which has a population of 235,000.

Limassol is one of the busiest ports of the Mediterranean transit trade and the largest port in Cyprus. It has also become one of the most important tourism, trade, and service-providing centres in the area. Limassol is renowned for its extensive cultural traditions, and is home to the Cyprus University of Technology. A wide spectrum of activities and a number of museums and archaeological sites are available to the interested visitor. Consequently, Limassol attracts a wide range of tourists mostly during an extended summer season to be accommodated in a wide range of hotels and apartments. A large marina is currently being constructed near the old town.

Limassol was built between two ancient cities, Amathus and Kourion, and during Byzantine rule it was known as Neapolis (new town). Limassol's historical centre is located around its medieval castle and the Old Port. Today the city spreads along the Mediterranean coast and has extended much farther than the castle and port, with its suburbs stretching along the coast to Amathus. To the west of the city is the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area, part of the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

History

Venetian Rule

Cyprus was sold in AD 1489 to Venice by the Cypriot Queen Catherine Cornaro. The Venetians did not have Cyprus' best interest at heart, they were only interested in receiving the taxes and in exploiting the country’s resources. The Venetians strengthened the Castle of Limassol.

Under The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire invaded Cyprus in 1570–1571 and occupied it. Limassol was conquered in July 1570 without any resistance. Descriptions of different visitors inform us that the town of Limassol looked like a village with a significant population. The Christians used to live in small houses with such low doorways, that one had to bend in order to enter. This was a deliberate design in order to prevent the Ottomans from entering their houses while riding a horse.

Some neighbourhoods, mostly to the east of the city were predominantly Greek, to the west predominantly Turkish with an evenly mixed area around the castle. The church played an important role in the education of Greeks during the years 1754–1821. During those years new schools were set up in all the towns. Greek intellectuals used to teach Greek history, Turkish and French. The following schools operated in the town of Limassol:

The Greek School which was established in 1819.
The first public school which was established in 1841.
The Girls’ School which was established in 1861.

Btitish Colonial Administration

The British took over in Cyprus in 1878. The first British governor of Limassol was Colonel Warren. He showed a particular interest in Limassol and even from the very first days the condition of the town showed an improvement. The roads were cleaned, the animals were removed from the centre, roads were fixed, trees were planted and docks were constructed for the loading and unloading of those ships that were anchored off-shore. Lanterns for the lighting of the central areas were also installed in the 1880. In 1912, electricity replaced the old lanterns.

From the very first years of the British occupation, a post office, a telegraph office and a hospital began to operate. In 1880 the first printing press started working. It was in this printing press that the newspapers Alithia and Anagennisis were published in 1897. The newspaper Salpinx was published at the same time.

At the end of the 19th century the very first hotels began to operate. Among these were Europe and Amathus.

These changes that the British brought about contributed to the development of an intellectual and artistic life. Schools, theaters, clubs, art galleries, music halls, sport societies, football clubs etc. were all set up and meant a great deal to the cultural life of Limassol.

Economy

The development of tourism in Limassol began after 1974 when the Turkish invaders occupied Famagusta and Kyrenia, the principal tourist resorts of Cyprus. Limassol has a lot of beaches, suitable for sunbathing and swimming. A bathing beach with all the necessary facilities, provided by the «Cyprus Tourism Organisation» (CTO), is operating in the town of Limassol, in «Dasoudi» area.

Limassol became the major sea port of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. Before 1974, that role had been filled by Famagusta which is now located in the Turkish controlled part of the island which is not recognised as a legal port by any country except Turkey.

Limassol is the base for many of the island's wine companies, serving the wine-growing regions on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains (of which the most famous is Commandaria). The most important ones are KEO, LOEL, SODAP and ETKO. The wines and cognacs (brandies) that are produced by the grapes that grow in the countryside, are of excellent quality. They have won several awards in international exhibitions. There is a considerable consumption of wine products in Cyprus by the locals and the foreign visitors. Big quantities are exported to Europe.

The town of Limassol is the biggest industrial centre of the province. There are about 350 industrial units with 90 industry wares. These industries concern dressmaking, furniture, shoes, drinks, food, prints, metal industry, electric devices, plastic wares as well as many other different industries.

Limassol is an important trade centre of Cyprus. This is due to the presence of the UK sovereign base at Episkopi and Akrotiri, and to the displacement of the population in Limassol after the Turkish invasion in 1974. The trade markets are gathered in the centre of the town and in the tourist area along the coast that begins from the old harbour and ends in Amathus area. Most of the hotels, restaurants, confectioneries, discos and places of entertainment in general, are to be found in this area.

Limassol has two Ports, commonly referred to as the "old port" and the "new port". The new port has the greatest commercial and passenger flow of traffic and it is the biggest port in the free part of Cyprus. The old harbour has a breakwater 250 metres long and it is only able to receive three small ships at a time. It is thus normally used by fishing boats. The new harbour is eleven metres deep and has break-waters that are 1300 metres long. It is able to receive about ten ships depending on their size. Exports of grapes, wines, carobs, citrus fruits and imports of cereals, vehicles, machines, textiles, agricultural medicines, fertilizers, iron etc. are exported and imported through these ports.

Limassol is today the largest ship management service centre in Europe with more than 60 shipmanagement companies located in the city, as due to the Cyprus Shipping tax system (a choice between corporation tax or a tonnage tax system)it makes it very attractive for ship management companies to have their main offices in Limassol. Thus the very popular MARITIME CYPRUS shipping conference which takes place every 2 years, attracting all the largest shipping companies of the world. These ship-management companies currently employee more than 40.000 seafarers. In fact, the Cyprus registry today is ranked as the tenth among international fleets.

Limassol has begun work on a project to build a new marina located to the west of Limassol Castle, between the old and new ports. This new development will allow berthing of ocean-going yachts with the marina having a capacity of 1.000 vessels.

During the last years, Limassol has experienced a construction boom fuelled by the tourist sector as well as from increasing foreign investments in the city. Public projects like the redesigning of the city's 1 kilometre promenade, are improving the quality of life of the people and the image of the city as a cosmopolitan destination. Infrastructure improvements partly funded by European programmes have helped solve traffic problems that the city faced with the construction of new highway flyovers and roundabouts.

Festivals

Limassol is famous in Cyprus for its festivals, like the Carnival and Wine Festival. The Limassol Carnival festival lasts for ten (10) days, with jolly and amusing masquerading. This custom is very old, going back to pagan rituals. With the passage of time it has acquired a different, purely entertaining character, with a large, popular following. The festival starts with the entrance parade of the King Carnival, followed by a fancy-dress competition for children. During the Carnival parade in the main streets, large crowds from all over the island gather to watch the floats with the serenade and other masqueraded groups. Many fancy-dress balls and parties take place at many hotels every night.

During the first quarter of September, the great Wine Festival of Cyprus takes place in the Limassol Municipal Garden, every evening between 8.00 hrs – 23.00 hrs. During the festival the visitor has the chance to taste some of the best Cyprus wines, which are offered free of charge. On some evenings, various groups from Cyprus and abroad perform folk dancing and there are also choirs and others.

Other festivals are Yermasogeia Flower Festival (May), Festival of the Flood (June), Shakespearean nights and Festival of Ancient Greek Drama.

Furthermore, the city of Limassol introduced the first Beer festival in July 2003. This is a three-day dance festival by the sea in the heart of the city centre. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Cypriot beers and imported beers, such as KEO, Heineken, Amstel and Becks. The entrance to the festival is free of charge and beers are sold at low prices, complemented by a mix of international music. Source Wikipedia

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