Thinking about Cyprus for your next holiday? What a fantastic choice of destination. Cyprus is a beautiful, interesting and diverse place that offers plenty in terms of Cyprus language, history and heritage. If you’re planning a Mosaica stay then you’ll love our guide to the riches it has to offer, all within easy reach of our large villas in lovely Limassol.
Cyprus language – the basics
In Cyprus, there are two main languages: Greek and Turkish. Cypriot Turkish is the official language of the Northern Cyprus territory, while both Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish are regarded as the official languages of Cyprus. Cypriot Greek is the most popular language, while there are some minority languages also spoken. Many Cypriots are highly proficient in English so conversing should not be an issue, but if you want to absorb some of the local culture and demonstrate politeness while visiting, it won’t hurt to learn a few phrases before you set off, including:
- Yes – Nei
- No – Ohi
- Hello – Ya Sou
- Good morning! – Kaleemeerah!
- Good afternoon! – Kaleespeerah!
- Good night! – Kaleenihkta!
- How are you? – Ti Kanis;
- I’m well – Poli Gala
- Thank you – Efharisto
- Please – Parakalo
- Sorry! – Signomi
You can find some other useful Cypriot Greek phrases online or you could pick up a phrase book/app that will help you out once you’re there. Being able to say some basic words like hello and goodbye, please and thank you will all be much appreciated by the locals you encounter.
Cyprus has a lot of history, and it is fascinating to explore some of its rich and varied past. There are some facts that you may already know, and others you can discover at popular tourist sites. There are several archaeological sites being explored that continue to reveal details of early Cypriot civilizations, including the discovery of a buried pet cat in 2004! This interesting relic shows that cats were actually kept as pets much earlier than in the days of Ancient Egypt. While on your holiday, you might want to explore some of the local historical sites, such as:
Choirokoitia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site around 25 minutes away from Limassol that was home to a Neolithic settlement from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC. It was discovered in the 1930s and has been an important archaeological site for investigating how Eastern Mediterraneans evolved. It’s a very well-preserved site and is easy to get to for a fascinating day out during your stay.
Located just outside of Limassol, Kolosi Castle is a 13th century castle that was developed further in the 15th century. Initially, the castle was the Knights Templar’s Grand Commandery, before becoming the main base for the Order of St. John of Jerusalem before the end of the 13th century. The castle is very well preserved, giving an idea of the defences that would have been used back then.
The Kourion archaeological site is a truly impressive place to visit during your holiday. You can explore the various finds that have been uncovered at the site, as well as the Greco-Roman theatre which is at its heart. Sadly, the area was destroyed by an earthquake in the 4th century, but you can still enjoy discovering the beautiful mosaics, marble columns and the other details that show what a magnificent history Cyprus has.
Amathus is another important archaeological site, and ancient ruin that is rich in history. It’s said that Amathus was once the home of Heracles and various other figures in Greek royalty. As the home of different settlements over the years, it then went into decline around the Byzantine period. Within easy reach of Limassol, it’s a must-see during your stay.
Heritage, like Cyprus language, is important to residents. Many customs have been derived from Greek influences, adapted over the years to form an important part of the local culture. The nature for being welcoming and hospitable is something you’ll notice immediately about Cyprus residents, and your experience will be greatly enriched by embracing the kindnesses that you are shown there.
There are some great traditions in Cyprus that you might be aware of but not know where they come from or what they mean. Smashing plates for example, is typically done at many celebrations such as weddings and parties, replacing the throwing of knives for obvious reasons! In place of smashing plates, people now throw flowers – a much safer option!
In Cyprus, you might notice many men carrying a string of beads. These are called kompoloi, and they are woven between the fingers as a form of relaxation – helping them to think clearer. You may find these for sale in shops during your stay.
Unlike in Western cultures, Friday the 13th isn’t considered to be the ‘unlucky’ day, it’s Tuesday 13th. This is the same in Greece. There are several reasons why the 13th is considered unlucky, with many of the reasons given associated with things that have happened in history on this day.
Another thing you might notice in Cyprus is people wearing a blue marble glass charm, usually containing an eye, or a blue-coloured bracelet. This is said to ward off the ‘evil eye’ which some believe can be caught from jealousy or envy. Some even believe that those with blue eyes can give the evil eye!
Although some of these are superstitions, there are other customs that you should observe and respect while you are visiting. Being respectful around religious buildings and avoiding photos in sensitive establishments like political buildings should be observed.
Greetings extend beyond much more than the Cyprus language. The culture in Cyprus tends to be quite relaxed, like in many places. Time-keeping, for example, is more laid-back than in other cultures. People will mainly greet each other for the first time with a handshake, and will then greet with hugs or kisses on the cheek if they are more familiar. You can read more about traditional Cypriot customs here.
When visiting Cyprus, you’ll notice that the café culture is very evident. Cafés are a key meeting place for people, whether for business or socialising, and you’ll find many of them around the main part of Limassol. There are some traditional Greek-style cafes, while you’ll also find international influences around if you want to enjoy something more familiar. One of the best things about cafes, is that they provide you with the perfect opportunity to practice the Cyprus language – don’t be afraid – give it a go!
If you’re looking for more than your average holiday, then Cyprus will certainly deliver. A break from lounging by the pool at your large Cyprus villa to learn some more about the country and its people is well worth your time. The Cyprus language, history and heritage is a special one, and you should soak up as much of it as possible during your stay.