This article was published in Europe Euphoria on 29th October, 2011.
Cyprus, officially known as the Republic of Cyprus, is a beautiful historic Eurasian island nation. It is located in the the Eastern Mediterranean. It lies on the east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. Cyprus is known as the birth place of Aphrodite and famously called the “the playground of the Gods”. It is one of the safest places to live in as crime rate is very low in the island. Although Cyprus is a hot spot tourist destination, it has a few unusual facts which are rarely known to the outside world. Here is a list of 10 such unusual ’secret’ facts about Cyprus.
1. Hidden Venetian Bridges
The Venetians ruled Cyprus from 1489 to 1571. The Venetians built the old camel trail so as to aid the extraction of anything valuation that they could lay their hands upon on the island. The hidden bridges were a part of this camel trail and are three in number. They are the Eleia bridge, the Roudias bridge, and the Kelefos bridge.
2. Rock Formations in Troodoos
In geological terms, Cyprus is an ophiolite, and it rose out of the sea more than 20 million years. The rock formations in the mountains of Troodoos are very well preserved ophiolite complex. The mountain rocks has no fault and is a geologists’ dream come true. But again, you can admire and savor the sparkling colors of the rock formations even if you are not a geologist.
3. Cyprus Cats
Do not let the cute looks of the Cyprus cats fool you of their age. Archaeological evidence shows that Cyprus has the oldest known history of keeping cats. In 2004, a 9500 year old grave site with carefully inferred remains of a human and a cat were found in Cyprus. This shows that cats had a special place in human lives in Cyprus since a very long time.
4. Origins of Perfume
Perfume is known to originate in Cyprus. Archaeologist discovered perfumes in alabaster bottles, scented with aromatic herbs like bay, coriander, lavender and rosemary. The bottles were found in an enormous underground cave and are believed to be produced in large scale.
5. Kleftiko’s Secret
Kleftiko is a Cypriot delicacy of slowly roasted lamb. The name ‘Kleftiko’ derived from the word ‘kleftis’ meaning ‘robber’. It is said that poor men used to steal meat and cook them in sealed underground ovens in the mountains.The sealed ovens kept the tantalizing aroma of the meat a secret. In the modern times, keftiko refers to to the Cypriot earthenware household oven.
6. Usage of Hot Chillies
Strangely, none of the Cypriot traditional delicacies use hot chillies as one of the ingredients. Cyprus is so near to the middle east and hot chillies could be easily cultivated in the Mediterranean sun. Pastourma, a hot and spicy loukanika sausage, is the only dish that is known to use chillies.
7. Unspoilt West
The western part of the island of Cyprus, near Polis and Latchi, are very far from the mad tourist crowd. It is completely unspoilt and there are not much people around, there are no traffic lights. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility then you should probably head to the west.
8. The story of the Pine forests
The famous forests of Troodoos and Kyrenia mountains were eroded systematically with each passing century. The forests were depleted for the cause of ship building and fuel smelting. When Winston Churchil was a junior minister in the early 1900’s, he commissioned a reforestation program to replace the invaluable majestic forests. Make it a point to spend at least a day in the cool shadows of the forests and reminiscence in the soothing scent of the cedar, pine and eucalyptus trees.
Halloumi is the traditional white cheese of Cyprus and is popularly known as the ’squeeky cheese’ by the visitors. Halloumi is commonly known to be of Greek origin. But that is wrong. It is of Cyprus origin and had been produced by the island for centuries. It is a semi-hard and prepared from milk (cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s) and rolled in wild mint.
10. The Mansoura Bay
Tourists crowds have literally spoiled most of the Cyprus beaches. If you really need to be away from the madding crowd in Cyprus then run away to the Mansoura Bay. This delightful bay is tucked away in the border on the Turkish side. Do not forget the small tavern there serving the most freshest fish ever. Additionally, more than 45 Cypriot beached had been acknowledged for their cleanliness and safety and awarded the EU Blue flag.