All Eyes on Cyprus
The Cyprus mystique is as much a product of its legendary beauty as it is of millennia of competing empires, all unable to resist the islands strategic allure of the island. The perfect location, of course, never goes out of style. Nestled into the eastern Mediterranean Sea and a veritable crossroads of three continents, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and an ideal starting point for the discovery of other exotic locales such as the Greek Islands, Egypt and the Middle East - in fact, mini-cruises set off for these places from Cyprus almost every day. But close as Cyprus may be to the worlds center stage, it is a distinctive place that can feel blissfully apart from it all.
Abundant copper in antiquity put small Cyprus on the map. In fact Cyprus (Kypros in Greek) gave copper its latin name: cuprum. In the late Bronze Age, Mycenaen Greeks settled on Cyprus and established trade links with Egypt and the Aegean islands. This is also the period when ceramic art first flourished. As centuries drifted by, the island came variously under Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and Roman rule. It was during the latter era that Marc Antony, enraptured by the islands sweet wines, gave Cyprus as a gift to his lover, the matchless Cleopatra. After a long period of Byzantine domination, European awareness of Cyprus surged with the Crusades. In 1191 a fierce sea storm led Richard the Lionheart to put his ship into port at Lemesos. He claimed the island as his own.
From 1489 to 1571 the flag of Venice flew in Cyprus, until which time the Ottoman Turks moved in. That era ended in 1878 when Cyprus became part of the British Empire. Despite a turbulent past, or perhaps because of it, the Cypriots themselves are a resilient people. They have always remained a distinct culture - different even from their closest cousins, the Greeks - and retained their unique character. The Republic of Cyprus achieved independence in 1960 and is now in line to join the European Union.
From independent travellers to honeymooners, archaeology aficionados to friends of nature, every visitor to Cyprus finds the island offers layer upon layer of discovery. Food lovers delight in farm-fresh halloumi cheese and delectable meze, the local specialty appetizers that mix Western ingredients with Eastern zest. Travellers on business appreciate the fine conference facilities and warm, professional service at more than 64 hotels and resorts, and like incentive groups value the proximity of the beach. And that golden Old World sunshine - there are generally 300-plus sunny days per year - is something few can resist. Add it all up and you have an ideally-situated island that truly has no equal. A place that measures up to its mystique: Cyprus.