Tuesday, October 24, 2006


As I said, I was in Cyprus. It wasn’t my first time there, but then, some six years ago, I only visited the capital, Nicosia. My strongest impressions from that first visit were twofold: in one hand, the warm people, the nice food and the sunny weather; in the other hand, the fact that Nicosia is the last divided European city, which could be seen in the streets, but also in the personal stories of individuals and families. This time I was in the area of Larnaca, on the southeast coast. The oldest living city of Cyprus – it was founded 6.000 years ago -, Larnaca has a population of around 70.000 and is an important tourist resort. Originally a Phoenician colony, it later became a part of the Hellenistic world. Being in the crossroad of civilisations from the early dawn of history, Larnaca has attracted many visitors: the Greeks, the Persians, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Venetians, the Turks and the British; some came as colonisers, others as traders, but they were all here. The Byzantine period of Larnaca is of great importance and left many interesting monuments, among them the 9th century Basilica of Saint Lazarus. The church is said to have been built over the tomb of St. Lazarus, the only human being condemned to die twice… According to the legend, Lazarus fled for his (second) life to Cyprus and was appointed directly by Paul and Barnabas to become the first Bishop of Kittim (the city now called Larnaca), where he lived another 30 years. I don’t know how much of this is true, but the fact is that I was once told in Provence (France), that Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary Magdalene went there after the Crucifixion and that he later became the first bishop of Marseille, while Martha went to Tarascon and tamed a terrible beast there. So, I don’t know in what to believe… but it seems that he definitely became a Bishop, which is quite an achievement even in two lifetimes… Anyway, apart from these religious legends, the truth is that I confirmed that Cyprus is a country full of warm people, nice food and sunny weather. And I hope that it won’t take me another six years to come back!


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