After a short flight from Amman, I arrived in Paphos Cyprus yesterday, ready to experience another new culture. I departed in advance of Crown Prince Hussein’s June wedding to his Saudi fiancé, Rajwa Al Saif, at Zahran Palace.
In preparation for wedding festivities and the arrival of famous guests, royals, and dignitaries, Amman was decorated with flowing Jordanian flags. Key checkpoints throughout the city were fortified with tanks occupied by armed guards. Increased security and the presence of Jordanian Armed Forces added to the already hectic traffic plaguing the streets of Amman. It was a relief to escape the brutal gridlock, obnoxious sound of automobile horns, and machinegun-carrying guards – sigh.
During my stay in Amman, I listened to mixed opinions about Jordan’s royal family and government, and will leave it at that, since I’m not really in a position to express a viewpoint. Jordan’s current king, Abdullah II, is “widely seen as a stabilizing force in the Middle East”. He’s supported by most Jordanians.
I experienced several major Jordanian national events, including Independence Day and Ramadan. A favorite memory is hiking and desert camping in the exquisite, magically beautiful Wadi Rum Protected Area.
“Cyprus has a strategic location in the Middle East.”
My hillside apartment in Jabal Amman was encircled by neighborhood mosques. Five or more times a day, every day, the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) is sounded from minarets throughout the city. The Arabic word adhan means “to listen”. The words still reverberate in my head… In comparison, I’m grateful for the soothing silence of Paphos and being a stone’s throw from the sea.
Cyprus Sea and Beaches
Spending time in the legendary blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea will be the highlight of Paphos! My accommodation has an Olympic-size swimming pool, and Paphos Harbor and beaches are only a few minutes away. I’m researching sailing / snorkeling daytrips and enjoying healthy Mediterranean food.
“Cyprus is the third-largest and third-most-populous island in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Background and History
Cyprus is “north of Egypt, east of Greece, south of Turkey, and west of Lebanon and Syria”. Nicosia, the capital, is the largest city in Cyprus. The northeast portion of the island is “de facto governed by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an entity not recognized by the international community”. The United Nations recognizes the TRNC as a “territory of the Republic of Cyprus under Turkish occupation”. Cyprus joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, but currently is not part of the EU Schengen Zone.
The earliest confirmation of human activity on Cyprus was at Aetokremnos on the island’s southern coast. Hunter-gatherers were active on the island from around 10,000 BC, and “settled village communities date from 8200 BC”.
“Paphos was born out of an ancient love story – Pygmalion – in a poem by Ovid. Pygmalion, then king of the island of Kypros (Cyprus), fell in love with an ivory statue of the goddess Aphrodite. In answer to his prayers, the statue was brought to life and afterwards became his wife.” Thoei Greek Mythology
In 1878, “Cyprus was placed under the United Kingdom’s administration, based on the Cyprus Convention,” and formally annexed by the UK in 1914. In the agreement, Ottoman Sultan, Abdülhamid II, “allowed the British to occupy Cyprus, in return for a guarantee to provide military aid, if Russia refused to withdraw from eastern Anatolian provinces they occupied during World War I“.
“During British occupation, the future of Cyprus became a matter of disagreement between Cyprus inhabitants – Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriot majority, which consisted of 77% of the total population, favored union with Greece. The Turkish Cypriot minority (18%) initially supported British rule but later favored the partition of Cyprus.”
Greek and Turkish Cypriot Beliefs
Cypriot culture is complicated to me, but the basic tenet of the Cyprus struggle seems a repetitive variation on a theme that’s continually playing out worldwide – Ukraine and Russia, Serbia and Kosovo, Palestine and Israel, Sunni versus Shia, Darfur rebels, China and Taiwan, Sri Lankan Sinhalese and Tamils, Rwandan Tutsi versus Hutu, Chechen-Slav clash, etc., etc., etc. Opposing Greek and Turkish Cypriot viewpoints are available on the Internet for those who wish to exercise their brains.
Following “years of resistance to British rule,” Cyprus became independent in 1960. Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority heightened in December 1963, when “violence broke out in the capital, Nicosia”.
Despite UN peacekeeping involvement, continued fighting forced most Turkish Cypriots into “enclaves throughout the island”. In 1974, a “Greek Government-sponsored attempt to overthrow the elected president of Cyprus was met by Turkish military intervention”. In 1983, the Turkish-Cypriot administered area declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The TRNC is only recognized by Turkey.
“Turkish Cypriots believe that the Turkish Cypriot Federated State should be exclusively Turkish Cypriot, and the Greek Cypriot State should be exclusively Greek Cypriot. The Greek Cypriots believe that the two states should be predominantly, but not exclusively, made up of one particular ethnic community.” HUH???
“In 2004, a UN-mediated agreement, the Annan Plan, failed to win approval by Greek and Turkish communities. In February 2014 under UN auspices, the leaders of the two communities resumed formal discussions aimed at reuniting the divided island. The most recent negotiations to reunify the island were suspended in July 2017, after failure to achieve a breakthrough.”
“In 2004, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, drew up a plan designed to end tension between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which for decades has afflicted the island of Cyprus. After it was deemed unacceptable by the country’s Greek Cypriot majority, the plan was rejected in a popular referendum.” European Parliament
The entire island of Cyprus entered the European Union on 1 May 2004. The “EU Acquis – a body that focuses on common rights and obligations – applies only to areas under the internationally recognized government, and is suspended in the TRNC”.
Individual Turkish Cypriots who can “document their eligibility for Republic of Cyprus citizenship, legally enjoy the same rights accorded to other citizens of EU states.” I’m taking baby steps trying to wrap my head around Cyprus politics and understand Cypriots. It’s always helpful to research the history of foreign countries visited. With Cyprus, there’s much to grasp. After months of traveling throughout many different countries, cultures, and political states, it’s time to put complicated matters aside, and simply enjoy the beauty of Cyprus.
Ancient Archaeological Sites
There are significant archeological sites in Paphos. During this trip, I’ve toured ancient ruins in several countries, so I’ll only visit Cyprus sites of special interest – if it doesn’t interfere with water activities :o). I find ancient Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries captivating, so hope to visit a few of those. There are hiking trails in the area, and another appealing way to see the sites is a daytrip sailing along the coast on a small sailboat:
- Nea Paphos and Paphos Archaeological Park
- Tombs of the Kings
- Paphos Castle
- Agios Neophytos Monastery
- The Mosaics of Paphos
- Agia Kyriaki Chrysopolitissa
- Agia Solomoni Catacombs
- House of Dionysus
- Byzantine Church of Agia Paraskevi
- Roman Odeon
- Church of Panagia Theoskepasti
- Forty Columns Fortress (Saranta Kolones)
- Villa of Theseus
- House of Aion
- Orthodox Cathedral of Agioi Anargyroi
- Stone of Rome – Birthplace of Venus
- Basilica of Panagia Limeniotissa