The cultural heritage of Cyprus includes Neolithic settlements, ancient Greek, Hellenistic and Roman monuments, many Byzantine and Latin churches and monasteries, as well as Frankish and Venetian fortresses and castles that date back from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries and also many mosques. The architecture of the houses in a number of cities and villages are very unique and can be categorised as traditional. The cultural life in Cyprus is quite well developed, in general, and can be seen in a number of forms, including its visual arts, the literature the island produces, its music, folk culture – which can be viewed at the Cyprus Folk Art Museum – its poetry, traditional dance, concerts and operas that are performed throughout the island, paintings and sculptures.
Khirokitia Neolithic Settlement – Larnaca District
The Khirokitia Neolithic Settlement is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. This wonderful Neolithic settlement was discovered well preserved and, therefore, is a prime example of the Neolithic period in Cyprus and provides insights into the Neolithic culture in the region. At the site there are five buildings, which have been rebuilt based on Neolithic architecture. In order to reconstruct the buildings to be as true to the originals as possible and to provide an accurate picture of the village as it was then, the same methods of construction and materials were used and also many objects found in the houses during excavations were also placed in the buildings.
In 1972, UNESCO adopted the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in response to the increasing threats to archaeological sites and monuments due to natural erosion and the fast, moving pace of economic development.
The convention promotes the recording, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage, which is extremely valuable to humanity.
Curium was an ancient city on the south west coast of Cyprus, near Episkopi. The Ancient Greek historians Herodotus and Stravonas both mention that the city was a colony of the Argion, one of the most rich and powerful kingdoms of Cyprus. It is mentioned in the ‘prism of Asarhadon’ 672-673 BC, along with the other kingdoms of Cyprus (Idalion, Kition, Salamis, Hytroi, Tamassos, Ledrai and Solloi.) According to mythology, the well-known owner of Curium was Curies the son of Kiniras. He was called Curieus and Curias by the city’s residents.
The devastating earthquakes that hit Curium in the second half of the fourth century AD, marks the beginning of the decline of the city. Another reason for the city’s downfall is that the people of the city stopped worshipping Apollo of Hylates due to growing popularity towards Christianity. This meant that the city was now deprived of many benefits that accompanied crowds of pilgrims who came to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.
Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, ancient Curium, Limassol (eighth century BC – fourth century AD)
Since 1992, this Convention has been managed by the Paris-based World Heritage Centre since 1992, which is the focal point and coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to World Heritage.
Tomb of the Kings – Paphos District
The Tomb of the Kings are located in down-town Paphos, near to the sea. The tombs received their title due to their size and grandeur. Some of these tombs probably belonged to the town’s aristocracy and not to the royal family. The tombs are carved in rock and date back to the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. Several tombs resemble the homes in which those who are buried there lived, with rooms (which are now burial chambers) which open into a patio. The Tomb of the Kings are similar to tombs found in Alexandria, which is proof of the close ties that the two cities had during the Hellenistic period.