Limassol is a city of residential neighborhoods with hidden courtyards and large, stone-built warehouses used for storing grapes, wine, carobs and fruit, which were exported to countries of the Near and Middle East, prior to World War II.
It is not a city of grand monuments, with the exception of some late 19th early 20th century mansions, but a place where the architecture of different periods mingles with surviving and contemporary artisan workmanship catering to Cypriot needs.
It is not a city of straight roads, but one offering a maze of narrow streets, intersecting and doubling back, occasionally punctuated by covered passageways which link the different neighborhoods and offer glimpses of the sea, or shade in the hot midday hours.
At least four distinct historical periods are still visible in the old city despite its being repeatedly destroyed during the middle ages:
- The Byzantine period (330 – 1191 AD), mainly limited to the ruins of St Catherine’s Cathedral, located under the mosque of Jami Kebir
- The Lusignan-Venetian period (1192-1571) with the castle (though no longer in its original form), some scant remnants of city walls embedded in later buildings, and ruins of the Latin cathedral (also layered under the mosque’s foundations)
- The Ottoman period (1571-1878) distinguished by its characteristic enclosed balconies, known as kiosks, along Ankara street (marked “Agkyras street” on the map), Ottoman graveyards with turbaned tomb stones and the hammam (public bath)
- The Colonial period (1878-1960) evident in Government offices, the Town Hall, two covered markets and the residential mansions whose style is colloquially termed “neoclassical”.
These four phases became incorporated into the 20th century small coastal town. The upheaval following the events of 1974 which resulted in the enforced movement of Turkish-Cypriots to the northern part of the island and Greek-Cypriots to the southern part, led to a huge urban development which has engulfed, though not obliterated, the historic town. The 1970s and 1980s saw further large-scale commercial development, especially along the waterfront, together with urban sprawl. Despite the damaging effects of political and social upheaval, much still survives to evoke the eastern Mediterranean Levantine character of this town, which persists in living its own life while drawing from cultures across the world.
The proposed stroll through the historic part of old Limassol, which could also be treated as three distinct smaller strolls, offers one the opportunity to see fragments from all the historic periods, alongside contemporary everyday life. The stroll has focused on buildings and local landmark features, rather than on the artisan workshops which are already well identified on the map.
We hope that this map and the additional information provided, will allow visitors to organize their own strolls and become acquainted with the history, as well as the everyday life of Limassol and its inhabitants.