Limassol (Lemesos), Cyprus
Limassol is the second largest city, located on the Bay of Akrotiri on the southern coastal plain. It is a major historical site, commercial centre, hub of the tourism and wine industries and the main port.
Limassol is situated between the two ancient city kingdoms of Amathus to the east and Kourion to the west. It came to prominence at the end of the Byzantine era when the English crusader king, Richard the Lionheart landed in 1191 and defeated the then ruler of Cyprus, Isaac of Komninos. Richard sold Cyprus to the Knights Templar, who established themselves in Limassol for the next two centuries until the city was ravaged by earthquakes and Genoese and Saracen attacks. Having declined under Ottoman rule, there was a partial recovery during the British administration when fruit and wine production and light industries such as shoemaking encouraged an influx of rural population. After the Turkish invasion of 1974, Limassol’s development accelerated dramatically as it became the main cargo and passenger port in the south serving a growing tourist hinterland.
Limassol harbour continues to expand to meet the demands of trade and passenger traffic. Ferry and cruise ship services operate to Greece, Israel, Egypt and a number of Greek islands. Wine and fruit are the main exports. The centre of the wine industry, the city hosts the annual summer Wine Festival. Britain maintains two military bases southwest of Limassol on the Akrotiri Peninsula.
Places of Interest
There are numerous archaeological and historic sites. Ancient Kourion, which became a permanent settlement under the Mycenaeans, is dominated by the Greco-Roman amphitheatre. The site also includes the House of Eustolios, a private residence dating from the fifth century with Christian-influenced and well-preserved mosaic floors; the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates (God of the Woodland), dating from the eighth century; and the early Christian Basilica, thought to have been built in the fifth century. Limassol castle, erected in the fourteenth century on the site of an earlier Byzantine structure, houses the Medieval Museum. Other attractions include Kolossi Castle, which was occupied by the Knights of St John from the thirteenth century, the Archaeological Museum and Folk Art Museum.