Cyprus Mail

Take a step back in time

Cyprus Land
Cyprus Land

Mediaeval Cyprus was a land caught in turbulent time with wars, pillage and even babies being put in charge. Following two massive earthquakes in 332 and 342, it also had its roots in a new era; most of what had been destroyed was never rebuilt.

Life at the centre of Mediterranean civilisation, with sugar cane playing a major role in an economy that was at the cross roads of major trade routes, have left few traces for historians to work with. Even the monuments, churches and public buildings that were created have often been reduced to rubble.

But wars, fires and earthquakes have not put off those at Cyprus Land, where the past is being brought back to life, helped in part by a massive 3D map which shows many of the mediaeval buildings established by those passing through the island, often not for peace.

Walking into Cyprus Land the visitor finds himself in a square that may or may not reflect the centre of a Mediaeval township. Olive products and honey, wines and zivania all rival for a piece of attention with the armoury and a raised platform for fights.

Twice a day men kitted out in the regalia of knights will take each other on. After it is over, smaller members of the audience who are keen on trying out their own skills can give it a go, but with a foam sword. A balance beam and swinging sandbags show how knights and other men of the time would have practiced their moves. And for those not deemed up to par there is a guillotine and stocks.

Cyprus Land - Practise your guillotine skills
Cyprus Land – Practise your guillotine skills

And for those keen on brushing up on ancient skills archery is available (fortunately not something our group has ever had to rely on) while you can see clear glass being made, even though Mediaeval artisans created coloured glass for decorations in churches. The wealthy of the time were the only ones able to afford honey; learn more about it at the honey workshop.

Taking up as much space as the village square is a 12m by 40m 3D map of the island that took 7,000 man hours to build at a 1:72,000 scale. Apart from perhaps viewing the island from space, there really is no better way of getting a view of the entire country, while an audio guide will lead you around the shores detailing the medieval history of the island. The church of Saint Sophia, now in occupied Nicosia, dominates the skyline and it is not just visitors today who are impressed by it; in 1347 the Pope was so captivated he granted a 100 day forgiveness of sins to those who had built it.

The Troodos monastery, it turns out, was built where it is because of a hermit. Refusing to speak to help the then governor of the island, he was beaten with a stick. A complicated tale involving the governor feeling guilty about this, the emperor and a holy icon of the virgin Mary led to the monastery’s construction in 1100.

And what we refer to as the Venetian walls of Nicosia were to replace a much larger wall built by the Franks that at one time completely enclosed Nicosia. The Venetians decided to make them smaller –they were originally 5km in length – so they were easier to defend but the project was never completed.

For smaller visitors who might get side tracked during the 25 minute audio guide there are chests to find on the map that will lead to a small prize. There are also shields and swords and other knights’ accessories to be examined as well as a knight’s uniform to be photographed with.

If all this knowledge makes you hungry there is a snack bar in what resembles a Mediaeval dining hall, although what the knights would have made of coffee and crisps is anyone’s guess.

Cyprus Land

Yermasoyia, Limassol. Tel: 97 846367, Everyday 8.30am to 8pm. Adults €14, children €8, family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) €35.

Let the games begin…

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