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The early History of Cyprus from 10,000 B.C until 1878

From ancient times, the history of Cyprus has been colourful, rich and often turbulent, with the island being conquered, raided and even given as a gift to Cleopatra by Julius Caesar.

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The history of Cyprus spans some 12,000 years of human habitation

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Roughly 12,000 years ago, a number of intrepid neolithic settlers arrived on the island and officially began the history of Cyprus, at least where human habitation is concerned. Since this time, the island has been fought over, besieged, conquered, and coveted as a strategically vital location by a greta many famous historical figures.


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The History of Cyprus from about 9000 B.C to the start of British occupation in 1878

Reconstruction of the Neolithic Circle Village at Choirokoitia

  • 9000 - 3800 BC: This part of the history of Cyprus sees the first human settlements established at Choirokitia in the island's south and at Cape Andreas at the end of the Cypriot pan handle.
  • 700 BC: Cyprus falls under Assyrian Rule
  • 570 BC: The Egyptian empire takes control of Cyprus for the first time.
  • 545 BC: The island voluntarily submits to King Cyrus of Persia
  • 350 BC: Cyprus joins the Greek world. Greek architectural styles are adopted and Greek dress becomes the norm
  • 50 BC: Roman occupation starts. Many great temples, amphitheaters and baths are constructed
  • AD 45: St Paul visits Cyprus on his first missionary journey and converts Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul of Paphos to Christianity.
  • 330: A division in the Roman empire marks the start of the Byzantine era
  • 365: What has become known as the Crete Earthquake destroys Kourion.
  • 700 - 1191: Periodic Arab raids of Cyprus
  • 1191: Richard the Lionheart arrives in Limassol, proceeds to capture Cyprus and becomes its effective ruler.
  • 1192: Richard's protege Guy of Lusignan is left in control of Cyprus
  • 1192 - 1489: The great cathedrals of Famagusta and Nicosia are constructed
  • 1489 - 1571: Brought in to combat the Genoese contingent in Famagusta, Venetian forces decide to take control of the island themselves.
  • 1571: The Turkish Ottoman empire captures Cyprus
  • 1878: British rule starts, see: Contemporary History

Historical Monuments of Cyprus

The island's many ancient monuments provide a fascinating insight into the history of Cyprus.

The Ancient City-Kingdom of Kourion: Located on the Akrotiri Peninsula in the south of Cyprus, just to the west of Limassol on the road to Paphos, is the ancient town of Kourion, which is probably most famous for its Roman amphitheater. Built at the end of the 2nd century AD during the Hellenistic period, it has a capacity of some 3,500 spectators. In 1961, it was restored by the antiquities department and is now used for performances of plays, concerts and other cultural events. Click here for more information about Kourion.

The Temple of Apollo, near the ancient City-Kingdom of Kourion

THE ANCIENT CITY KINGDOM OF AMATHUS: About 7 miles east of Limassol, near Ayios Tychonas you will find one of the largest city kingdoms of ancient times; Amathus. According legend, Amathus, one of the most ancient royal cities, was settled by one of the sons of Heracles, who was worshipped there. It was also a main cult centre for Aphrodite, and was later destroyed by King Richard the 1st. Click here for more information on Amathus.

Situated in a fertile valley at the mouth of the river Kouris, stands Kolossi Castle, one of the most important Medieval fortifications in Cyprus. Initially in the keeping of the Knights Templar, the castle was handed over to the Knights of St John in the fourteenth century. Often mentioned during records of the Middle Ages, because of the many sugar-cane, olive, cotton, locust-tree and cereal plantations in the vicinity, not to mention its vinyards the produce of which takes its name from the feudal commandarie at Kolossi. Click here for more details about Kolossi Castle.

The early history of Cyprus can often be described as turbulent

And what is also all too frequently overlooked, is the fact that Cyprus also played what may best be diescribed as an integral part in Early Christian History, with many followers of Jesus fleeing there in the wake of the initial persecutions in the first few years after the crucifixion. The island was also the initial stage on St Barnabas and St Paul's first missionary journey, and is the place where St Paul performed the first miracle ascribed to him in the New Testament.

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North Cyprus Property

More recently of course, the history of Cyprus includes the infamous Turkish invasion of 1974 and the division this caused across the island in the shape of the UN-controlled 'Green Line', which separates the Republic of Cyprus from its northern neighbour.

And while it is certainly true that, due to the north's status as an illegally occupied territory, the purchase of a North Cyprus Home should be approached with caution, the situation is not quite as straight-forward as the vast majority of Cyprus property sales websites claim it to be.
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Disclaimer. Please note that the information given on this website is displayed for guidance purposes only. It does not replace the need for professional advice, either legal or otherwise. E&OE

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