Λεμεσός, Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία

Limassol (Greek: Λεμεσός, Lemesós;, Turkish: Limasol/Leymosun) is the second-largest city in Cyprus, with a population of 228,000 (2008). It is the largest city in geographical size, and the biggest municipality on the island. The city is located onAkrotiri Bay, on the island's southern coast and it is the capital of Limassol District.

Limassol is the biggest Cypriot port in the Mediterranean transit trade. It has also become one of the most important tourism, trade and service-providing centres in the area. Limassol is renowned for its long cultural tradition, and is home to the Cyprus University of Technology. A wide spectrum of activities and a number of museums and archaeological sites are available to the interested visitor. Consequently, Limassol attracts a wide range of tourists mostly during an extended summer season to be accommodated in a wide range of hotels and apartments. A large marina is currently being constructed near the old town.

Limassol was built between two ancient cities, Amathus and Kourion, so during Byzantine rule it was known as Neapolis (new town). Limassol's tourist strip now runs east along the coast as far as Amathus. To the west of the city is the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area, part of the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.


The town of Limassol is situated between the ancient towns of Amathus and Curium (Kourion). Limassol was probably built after Amathus had been ruined. However, the town of Limassol has been inhabited since very ancient times. Graves found there date back to 2000 BC and others date back to the 8th and 4th centuries BC. These few remains show that a small colonisation must have existed which did not manage to develop and flourish. Ancient writers mention nothing about the foundation of the town.

According to the Council of Chalcedon which took place in 451, the local bishop as well as the bishops of Amathus and Arsinoe were involved in the foundation of the city, which would be known by the names of Theodosiana and Neapolis. Bishop Leontios of Neapolis was an important church writer in the 7th century. The records of the 7th Synod (787) refer to it as the bishop’s see. The town was known as Lemesos in the 10th century.

The history of Limassol is largely known by the events associated with the Third Crusade. The king of England, Richard the Lionheart, was travelling to the Holy Land in 1191. His fiancée Berengaria and his sister Joan (Queen of Sicily), were also travelling on a different ship. Because of a storm, the ship with the queens arrived in Limassol. Isaac Comnenus, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, was heartless and cruel, and loathed the Latins. He invited the queens ashore, with the intention of holding them to ransom, but they wisely refused. So he refused them fresh water and they had to put out to sea again or yield to capture. When Richard arrived in Limassol and met Isaac Comnenus, he asked him to contribute to the crusade for the liberation of the Holy Land. While at the beginning Isaac had accepted, he later on refused to give any help.Richard then chased him and finally arrested him; the entire island was therefore taken over by the Anglo-Normans, bringing the long Byzantine dominion of Cyprus to an end. Richard celebrated his marriage with Berengaria who had received the crown as queen of England in Cyprus. Richard destroyed Amathus and the inhabitants were transferred to Limassol.

A year later, in AD 1192, Cyprus was sold for the sum of 100,000 bezants to the Templars, rich monks and soldiers whose aim was the protection of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The knights enforced high taxes, in order to get back the money that had been given for the purchase of Cyprus. This led to the revolt of the Cypriots, who wished to get rid of the bond of the promise. Richard accepted their request and a new purchaser was found: Guy de Lusignan, a Roman Catholic from Poitou. Cyprus was therefore handed over to the French dynasty of the house of Lusignan, thus establishing the medieval Kingdom of Cyprus.

For a period of about three centuries 1192-1489, Limassol enjoyed remarkable prosperity. Cyprus was characterised by its great number of Latin bishops. This lasted until the occupation of Cyprus by the Ottomans in AD 1570. Latin battalions which established monasteries were settled down there. The settlement of merchants in Cyprus and particularly in Limassol in the 13th century led to the financial welfare of its inhabitants. Its harbour as a centre of transportation and commerce, contributed greatly to the financial and cultural development.

The War of the Lombards

Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, urged by the Templars of Cyprus who were enemies of Ibelen, arrived in Limassol and took over in the town in 1228. He then called John Ibelen to come before him, in order to discuss the plans against the Muslims. John Ibelen came before him accompanied by the under-aged King Eric and all the Templars of Cyprus. When Ibelen refused to cooperate, Frederick had no choice but to let him go. The German King took over in Limassol and in other towns. He appointed his own governors but he finally left Cyprus. The forces of Frederick were finally beaten in the battle of 1229, which took place in Agirta, a village in the Kyrenia area, between the forces of Frederick and the troops of the Franks, which were led by John Ibelen. After the end of the battle, Frederick made no further claims to the island.

Attacks from Egypt

Limassol was under attack from the Mamelukes of Egypt. The harbour of Limassol had become a refuge for the pirates who pillaged and plundered Muslim land in the Eastern Mediterranean . Thus, a military force arrived in Limassol in 1424, sent by the Mamelukes of Egypt. The Mamelukes devastated and burned Limassol. A year later, they invaded Cyprus again, this time with greater forces. They plundered Famagusta and Larnaca, and then arrived in Limassol where without any difficulty they occupied the Castle, burned many places, plundered others and then returned to Cairo. The Mamelukes caused even greater destruction in Limassol and other places in 1426. Janus, the king of Cyprus, was defeated by them in Chirokitia and was sent back to Cairo as a prisoner.

Cyprus was sold in AD 1489 to Venice by the Cypriot Queen Catherine Cornaro. The Venetians did not have Cyprus' best interest at heart, they were only interested in receiving the taxes and in exploiting the country’s resources. The Venetians destroyed the Castle of Limassol.

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire invaded Cyprus in 1570-1571 and occupied it. Limassol was conquered in July 1570 without any resistance. Descriptions of different visitors inform us that the town of Limassol looked like a village with a significant population. The Christians used to live in small houses with such low doorways, that one had to bend in order to enter. This was deliberate design in order to prevent the Ottomans from to entering the houses while riding a horse.

Some neighbourhoods, mostly to the east of the city were predominantly Greek, to the west predominantly Turkish with an evenly mixed area around the castle. The church played an important role in the education of Greeks during the years 1754-1821. During those years new schools were set up in all the towns. Greek intellectuals used to teach Greek history, Turkish and French. The following schools operated in the town of Limassol:

  • The Greek School which was established in 1819.
  • The first public school which was established in 1841.
  • The Girls’ School which was established in 1861.

British administration

The British took over in Cyprus in 1878. The first British governor of Limassol was Colonel Warren. He showed a particular interest in Limassol and even from the very first days the condition of the town showed an improvement. The roads were cleaned, the animals were removed from the centre, roads were fixed, trees were planted and docks were constructed for the loading and unloading of those ships that were anchored off-shore. Lanterns for the lighting of the central areas were also installed in the 1880. In 1912, electricity replaced the old lanterns.

From the very first years of the British occupation, a post office, a telegraph office and a hospital began to operate. In 1880 the first printing pressstarted working. It was in this printing press that the newspapers «Alithia» and «Anagennisis» were published in 1897. The newspaper «Salpinx» was published at the same time.

At the end of the 19th century the very first hotels began to operate. Among these were «Europe» and «Amathus».

These changes that the British brought about contributed to the development of an intellectual and artistic life. Schools, theaters, clubs, art galleries, music halls, sport societies, football clubs etc. were all set up and meant a great deal to the cultural life of Limassol.


The first marxist groups in Cyprus formed in Limassol in the early 1920s; in 1926, the Communist party of Cyprus was formed in the city. Its successor, AKEL, has dominated municipal elections, since the first free elections in 1943, won by Ploutis Servas.

Andreas Christou, an AKEL member, was elected mayor of Limassol in December 2006 to serve a five-year term.


Limassol is famous in Cyprus for its festivals, like the Carnival and Wine Festival. The Limassol Carnival festival lasts for ten (10) days, with jolly and amusing masquerading. This custom is very old, going back to pagan rituals. With the passage of time it has acquired a different, purely entertaining character, with a large, popular following. The festival starts with the entrance parade of the King Carnival, followed by a fancy-dress competition for children. During the Carnival parade in the main streets, large crowds from all over the island gather to watch the floats with the serenade and other masqueraded groups. Many fancy-dress balls and parties take place at many hotels every night.

During the first quarter of September, the great Wine Festival of Cyprus takes place in the Limassol Municipal Garden, every evening between 8.00 hrs - 23.00 hrs.During the festival the visitor has the chance to taste some of the best Cyprus wines, which are offered free of charge. On some evenings, various groups from Cyprus and abroad perform folk dancing and there are also choirs and others.

Other festivals are Yermasogeia Flower Festival (May), Festival of the Flood (June), Shakespearean nights and Festival of Ancient Greek Drama.

Furthermore, the city of Limassol introduced the first Beer festival in July 2003. This is a three day dance festival by the sea in the heart of the city centre. Visitors can enjoy a variety of Cypriot beers and imported beers such as KEO, Heineken, Amstel and Becks. The entrance to the festival is free of charge and beers are sold at low prices, complemented by a mix of international music.

The sixth Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held in Limassol, in the Spyros Kyprianou Athletic Centre.



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