emesos or Limassol (just take your pick) is the second largest city of Cyprus, the southernmost city of Europe and the island’s major port and commercial centre. Above all, it is a cosmopolitan city in every sense of the word. Apart from offering a glamorous lifestyle (even if a bit wild sometimes) unlike any other in Cyprus, over the last decades Lemesos has lured many different immigrants – displaced Greek-Cypriots from the north after the island’s division in 1974, Lebanese and Iraqis fleeing their homelands’ wars, Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union, even a small community of Turkish-Cypriots who came in the late 1990s and settled in the Old City’s Turkish quarter – who give the city a multicultural feel.
The historic centre with its narrow streets and shuttered houses and the Medieval Castle, where the wedding of Richard the Lionheart and Berengaria reportedly took place, is a charming place to explore. It skillfully balances ancient tales of the past, whispered stories about mighty kings and beautiful queens, with contemporary realities, with the brand-new state-of-the-art Limassol Marina the modern crown-jewel of the city and a mega-magnet for tourism.
The Multifunctional Seaside Park (aka Molos), which stretches for about 1km just south of the city centre, connecting the Old Port and marina with the Olympian coast to the east, is also part of the redevelopment project that transformed the long-abandoned seafront area into a vibrant palm-fringed walkway, with parks, fountains, walk and bike lanes, docks and public art installations. Beyond, the modern city (which has grown considerably in recent years) stretches east along a 15km coastline lined with hotels and eucalyptus groves, and linked by a promenade popular with walkers or joggers.
As if all this was not enough of an attraction, the Lemesos district boasts an equally enchanting hinterland: its highlights include the Krassohoria (Wine Villages) and Troodos National Forest Park; two outstanding archaeological sites, Amathus and Kourion; and the majestic Kolossi Castle. Oh, and did we mention the stunning, jaw-dropping Governor’s beach?
A historic city in Cyprus