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Limassol or Lemesos (Greek: Λεμεσός, Lemesos; Turkish: Limasol, alt. Leymosun) is the second-largest city on Cyprusmarker, with a population of 228,000 (2008), the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located on Akrotiri Baymarker, on the island's southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol Districtmarker.

Limassol is the biggest port in the Mediterraneanmarker transit trade. It has also become one of the most important tourism, trade and service-providing centres in the area. Limassol is renowned for its long cultural tradition, and is home to the Cyprus University of Technology. A wide spectrum of activities and a number of museums and archaeological site are available to the interested visitor. Consequently, Limassol attracts a wide range of tourists mostly during an extended summer season to be accommodated in a wide range of hotels and apartments. There are also plans to build a large marina in Limassol.

Limassol was built between two ancient cities, Amathusmarker and Kourionmarker, so during Byzantine rule it was known as Neapolis (new town). Limassol's tourist strip now runs east along the coast as far as Amathusmarker. To the west of the city is the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Areamarker of the United Kingdommarker.

History



The town of Limassol is situated between the ancient towns of Amathusmarker and Curium (Kourionmarker). The English King Richard the Lionheart destroyed Amathusmarker in 1191. Lemesos (Limassol) was probably built after Amathus had been ruined. However, the town of Lemesos (Limassol) has been inhabited since very ancient times. Graves found there date back to 2.000 B.C. and others date back to the 8th and 4th century BC. These few remains show that a small colonization must have existed which did not manage to develop and flourish. Ancient writers mention nothing about the foundation of the town.

According to the Synod which took place in 451, the local bishop as well as the bishops of Amathus and Arsinoe were involved in the foundation of the city, which would be known by the names of Theodosiana and Neapolis. Bishop Leontios of Neapolis was an important church writer in the 7th century. The records of the 7th Synod (787) refer to it as the bishop’s see. The town was known as Nemesos in the 10th century. Constantine Porfyrogennitos refers to the town by this name.

The history of Limassol is largely known by the events of 1191 A.D. that put an end to the Byzantine dominion of Cyprus. The king of England, Richard the Lionheart, was travelling to the Holy Land in 1191. His fiancée Berengaria and his sister Joan (Queen of Sicily), were also travelling on a different ship. Because of a storm, the ship with the queens arrived in Lemesos (Limassol). Isaac Comnenus, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, was heartless and cruel, and loathed the Latins. He invited the queens ashore, with the intention of holding them to ransom, but they wisely refused. So he refused them fresh water and they had to put out to sea again or yield to capture. When Richard arrived in Lemesos (Limassol) and met Isaac Comnenus, he asked him to contribute to the crusade for the liberation of the Holy Land. While at the beginning Isaac had accepted, he later on refused to give any help.

Richard then chased him and beat him. Cyprus was therefore taken over by the English. Richard celebrated his marriage with Berengaria who had received the crown as queen of England in Cyprus. So, the Byzantine dominion in Cyprus came to an end.Richard destroyed Amathus and the inhabitants were transferred to Limassol.

A year later, in 1192 A.D. Cyprus was sold to the Templars, rich monks and soldiers whose aim was the protection of the Holy Sepulchremarker in Jerusalem. The knights enforced high taxes, in order to get back the money that had been given for the purchase of Cyprus. This led to the revolt of the Cypriots. They demanded that they should get rid of the bond of the promise. Richard accepted their request and a new purchaser was found: Guy de Lusignan, a Frank, a Roman Catholic. Cyprus was thus handed over to the Frankish Dynasty of the Lusignan kings of the medieval Cypriot kingdom.

For a period of about three centuries 1192-1489, Limassol enjoyed remarkable prosperity. Cyprus was characterized by its great number of Latin bishops. This lasted until the occupation of Cyprus by the Ottomans in 1570 A.D. Latin battalions which established monasteries were settled down there.

The settling down of merchants in Cyprus and particularly in Limassol in the 13th century led to the financial welfare of its inhabitants. Its harbor as a center of transportation and commerce, contributed greatly to the financial and cultural development.

Claims of the German emperor



The Roman Emperor, Frederick II, urged by the Templars of Cyprus who were enemies of Ibelen, arrived in Limassol and took over in the town in 1228. He then called John Ibelen to come before him, in order to discuss the plans against the Muslims. John Ibelen came before him accompanied by the under-aged King Eric and all the Templars of Cyprus. When Ibelen refused to cooperate, Frederick had no choice but to let him go. The German King took over in Limassol and in other towns. He appointed his own governors but he finally left Cyprus. The forces of Frederick were finally beaten in the battle of 1229, which took place in Agirta, a village in the Kyreniamarker area, between the forces of Frederick and the troops of the Franks, which were led by John Ibelen. After the end of the battle, Frederick made no further claims to the island.

Attacks from Egypt



Limassol witnessed the attacks of the Mamelukesmarker of Egyptmarker. The harbor of Limassol had become a refuge for the pirates who were ravaging the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and were stealing the property belonging to Muslims. The lords were getting richer and richer because of the money that was given to them for their assistance to the pirates. Thus, a military force arrived in Limassol in 1424, sent by the Mamelukes of Egypt. The Mamelukes devastated and burned Lemesos (Limassol). A year later, they invaded Cyprus again, this time with greater forces. They plundered Famagustamarker and Larnacamarker, and then arrived in Limassol where without any difficulty they occupied the Castle, burned many places, plundered others and then returned to Cairomarker. The Mamelukes caused even greater destruction in Limassol and other places in 1426. Janus, the king of Cyprus, was defeated by them in Chirokitia and was sent back to Cairo as a prisoner.

Cyprus was sold in 1489 A.D. to the town of Venicemarker by the Cypriot Queen Catherine Cornaro. The Venetiansmarker were not interested in Cyprus. They were only interested in receiving the taxes and in exploiting the country’s sources. They destroyed the Castle of Limassol. Travellers who visited Cyprus in the 16th century commented on the poor condition of the local population in the towns of Cyprus.

All the inhabitants of Cyprus were enslaved by the Venetians, and were obliged to pay a tribute of ⅓ of their income, whether this was part of their products of the land, e.g. wheat, wine, oil, or animals or of any other product.

Ottoman invasion

The Ottoman Empire invaded Cyprus in 1570-1571 and occupied it. Limassol was conquered in July 1570 without any resistance. Descriptions of different visitors inform us that the town of Limassol looked like a village with a considerable number of inhabitants. The Christians used to live in small houses of such low height, that one had to bend in order to enter the house. This was deliberately chosen in order to prevent the Ottomans from riding a horse, to enter the houses.

Greeks and Turks used to live in distinct neighborhoods. The church played an important role in the education of the country during the years 1754-1821. During those years new schools were set up in all the towns. Greek intellectuals used to teach Greek history, Turkish and French. The following schools operated in the town of Limassol:

  • The Greek School which was established in 1819.
  • The first public school which was established in 1841.
  • The Girls’ School which was established in 1861.


British takeover

Church, Limassol
Seafront View, Limassol
The British took over in Cyprus in 1878. The first British governor of Limassol was Colonel Warren. He showed a particular interest in Limassol and even from the very first days the condition of the town showed an improvement. The roads were cleaned, the animals were removed from the center, roads were fixed, trees were planted and docks were constructed for the loading and unloading of those ships that were embarked away from the shore. Lanterns for the lighting of the central areas were also installed in the 1880. In 1912, electricity finally replaced the old lanterns.

From the very first years of the British occupation, a post office, a telegraph office and a hospital began to operate. In 1880 the first printing press started working. It was in this printing press that the newspapers «Alithia» and «Anagennisis» were published in 1897. The newspaper «Salpinx» was published at the same time.

At the end of the 19th century the very first hotels began to operate. Among these were «Europe» and «Amathus».

These changes that the British brought about contributed to the development of an intellectual and artistic life.Schools, theaters, clubs, art galleries, music halls, sport societies, football clubs etc. were all set up and meant a great deal to the cultural life of Lemesos (Limassol).

Job opportunities concerned the wine and ceramic industries, as well as the commerce and tourism developed by the port.

Government

The first marxist groups in Cyprus formed in Limassol in the early 1920s. In 1926 the Communist party of Cyprus was formed in the city. Its successor AKEL dominated municipal elections, since the first free elections in 1943 won by Ploutis Servas.

The current Mayor of the municipality is Andreas Christou - AKEL member as well - and he was elected Mayor of Limassol in December 2006 to serve a five year term.

Climate

Economy

eft


The development of tourism in Limassol began after 1974 when the Turkishmarker invaders occupied Famagustamarker and Kyreniamarker, the basic tourist areas of Cyprus. Limassol has some very good beaches, rich in sand and suitable for sunbathing and swimming. A bathing beach with all the necessary facilities, provided by the «Cyprus Tourism Organisation» (CTO), is operating in the town of Limassol, in «Dasoudi» area.

Limassol became the major sea port of the Republic of Cyprusmarker in 1974. Before 1974, that role had been filled by Famagustamarker which is now located in the Turkish controlled part of the islandmarker.

Limassol is the base for many of the island's wine companies, serving the wine-growing regions on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountainsmarker (of which the most famous is Commandaria). The most important ones are KEO, LOEL, SODAP and ETKO. The wines and cognacs (brandies) that are produced by the grapes that grow in the countryside, are of excellent quality. They have won several awards in international exhibitions. There is a considerable consumption of wine products in Cyprus by the locals and the foreign visitors. Big quantities are exported to Europe.

The town of Limassol is the biggest industrial centre of the province. There are about 350 industrial units with 90 industry wares. These industries concern dressmaking, furniture, shoes, drinks, food, prints, metal industry, electric devices, plastic wares as well as many other different industries.

Limassol is an important trade centre of Cyprus. This is due to the presence of the UK sovereign base at Episkopi and Akrotirimarker, and to the displacement of the population in Limassol after the Turkish invasion in 1974. The trade markets are gathered in the center of the town and in the tourist area along the coast that begins from the old harbor and ends in Amathus area. Most of the hotels, restaurants, confectioneries, discos and places of entertainment in general, are to be found in this area.

Limassol has two ports, commonly referred to as the "old port" and the "new port". The new port has the greatest commercial and passenger flow of traffic and it is the biggest port in the free part of Cyprus. The old harbour has a breakwater 250 metres long and it is only able to receive three small ships at a time. It is thus normally used by fishing boats. The new harbour is eleven metres deep and has break-waters that are 1300 metres long. It is able to receive about ten ships depending on their size.Exports of grapes, wines, carobs, citrus fruits and imports of cereals, vehicles, machines, textiles, agricultural medicines, fertilizers, iron etc. are exported and imported through these ports.

It has been confirmed that Limassol will begin working on a project to build a new marina, which has been designed by architect, Saveiros Vrahimis. The new marina will be located to the west of Limassol Castle, between the old and new ports. This new development will be a big step for the city of Limassol, introducing a new feature of tourism for Cyprus by attracting ocean-going yachts from abroad.

The construction, plans to be completed by 2011 and will comfortably hold 1,000 boats. In addition, it will provide great facilities for dining out, accommodation and business conferences.

Demographics

View of Limassol's Marina


Internal migration since the 1960s and influx of displaced persons after 1974 significantly increased the population of Limassol and its suburbs. Greater Limassol today includes the municipality of Limassol (includes the suburb of Agia Fyla) and the municipalities of Polemidhia, Mesa Geitonia, Agios Athanasiosmarker and Germasogeia.

Limassol traditionally had a mixed population of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The majority of Turkish Cypriots moved to the north in 1974. Accordingly, many Greek Cypriots from the north of Cyprus, who became refugees following the Turkish invasion, settled down in Limassol. During the 1990s several Cypriot Roma (considered Turkish Cypriots according to the constitution) returned from the North of the island to the Turkish quarter of Limassol.

The rise of the population birth rate during the late 19th and 20th c. (1878-1960) was 70%. The number of inhabitants was 6.131 in 1881, while in 1960 the number had risen to 43.593. The number of the Greek population was estimated at 37.478, while the Turkish population at 6.115.

Landmarks

The coastal front of Limassol is a landmark of the city
The medieval castle




  • The medieval castle of Limassol now serves as a medieval museum. The collection that the museum provides covers the era of 400 - 1870 A.D. A visitor can see numerous exhibits: cannons, wood carvings of the 17th and 18th century, paintings and tombstones, statues, suits of armor, coins, terracotta, metalware and pottery, glass and marble articrafts.


  • The Archaeological Museum provides a very interesting collection of antiquities found in the district of Limassol, dating from the Neolithic Age to the Roman period. Some of the archaeological discoveries are:
Stone axes of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic period, potteries and objects of the ancient cities of Curium and Amathus, as well as Roman terra cottas, gold jewellery, coins, sculptures, columns, vases, earrings, rings, necklaces, marble statues etc.

  • The Folk Art Museum is beautifully preserved old house which provides a very interesting collection of Cypriot Folk Art of the last two centuries. Some of the most fascinating objects of the collection are: national costumes, tapestry, embroidery, wooden chests, waistcoats, men’s jackets, necklaces, a variety of light clothes, town costumes, country tools etc.
The museum was established in 1985. More than 500 exhibits are housed in its six rooms. The museum was awarded the Europa Nostra prize in 1989. Here, the visitor can study Cypriot culture through the hand-made exhibits.

  • Public Garden is situated on the coastal road. It provides a great variety of vegetation: eucalyptus trees, pine trees and cypresses. In this beautiful environment the citizens of Limassol and many visitors can walk around and enjoy themselves. Inside the garden, there is a small zoo. There, the visitor can see deer, moufflon, ostriches, pheasants, tigers, lions, monkeys, vultures, pelicans and other animals and different kinds of birds.Not far from the zoo there is the small natural history museummarker and the garden theatre that is reconstructed to host famous international groups.




  • The Limassol Marina project will soon be under construction and it will create a world class marina, which will be environmentally friendly, with a wide range of services and attractions unsurpassed anywhere in Cyprus. These will include quality waterside residential and commercial developments, lifestyle attributes such as recreation centers, restaurants, clubs, entertainment, sports, bicycle and walking paths and even a traditional church. Over 1000 berths will be available for small and larger yachts and the whole operation will be managed and operated by quality and experienced operators. Limassol Marina


Festivals

Scene from Limassol's famous Carnival


Limassol is famous in Cyprus for its festivals, like the Carnival and Wine Festival. The Limassol Carnival festival lasts for ten (10) days, with jolly and amusing masquerading. This custom is very old, going back to pagan rituals. With the passage of time it has acquired a different, purely entertaining character, with a large, popular following. The festival starts with the entrance parade of the King Carnival, followed by a fancy-dress competition for children. During the Carnival parade in the main streets, large crowds from all over the island gather to watch the floats with the serenade and other masqueraded groups. Many fancy-dress balls and parties take place at many hotels every night.

During the first quarter of September, the great Wine Festival of Cyprus takes place in the Limassol Municipal Garden, every evening between 8.00 hrs - 23.00 hrs. During the festival the visitor has the chance to taste some of the best Cyprus wines, which are offered free of charge. On some evenings, various groups from Cyprus and abroad perform folk dancing and there are also choirs and others.

Other festivals are Yermasogeia Flower Festival (May), Festival of the Flood (June), Shakespearean nights and Festival of Ancient Greek Drama.

Furthermore, the city of Limassol introduced the first Beer festival in July 2003. This is a three day dance festival by the sea in the heart of the city centre. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Cypriot beers and imported beers such as KEO, Heineken, Amstel and Becks.The entrance to the festival is free of charge and beers are sold at low prices, complemented by a mix of international music.

The sixth Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held in Limassol, in the Spyros Kyprianou Athletic Centremarker.

Sports

AEL FC and Apollon Limassol are the two major sport clubs in Limassol, which have football, basketball and volleyball teams. AEL has the records of the most trophies in totally all the sports together. In basketball, Apollon and AEL are very powerful teams. AEL dominates the Cypriot basketball, while it has the record of the most time champions. They were the Cyprus Champions for five consecutive years (the last five years). In football, both teams Apollon and AEL play in First Division. Aris Limassol is another football team which plays in First Division and like AEL is one of the founding teams of the Cyprus Football Association (KOP). AEL women volleyball teams is the permanent champion of Cyprus. There are also teams in athletics, bowling, cycling and other sports.

The football stadium of Limassol is Tsirionmarker, with capacity of 16 000, which hosts the three football teams of Limassol and in the past it hosted Cyprus national football team. It was used also for athletics. There are various other stadiums for other sports in Limassol.The Apollon Limassol basketball stadium, hosted the 2003 FIBA Europe South Regional Challenge Cup Final Four. The two basketball teams of Limassol participated and AEL became the first Cypriot sport team to win a European Trophy. In 2006, Limassol hosted the FIBA Europe All Star Game in Spyros Kiprianou Sports Centre, as it had the year before.

Also, in Limassol and around, is hosted the Cyprus Rally for World Rally Championship.

There is a professional handball team, APEN Agiou Athanasiou.

An annual marathon event takes place each year in Limassol the Limassol International Marathon GSO.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Limassol is twinned with:




Notable residents



See also



References

  1. Limassol.com City Info
  2. Festivals in Limassol


External links



Other uses

Limassol is also the title of a song by Maxïmo Park from the album A Certain Trigger.


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