The city of Limassol is situated in a picturesque location on the shores of the Bay of Akrotiri in the narrow coastal plain, between the two ancient city kingdoms of Amathus to the east and Kourion to the west. It is within an hour’s drive from the capital Lefkosia to the north, the port cities of Larnaka to the east and Paphos to the west and the main mountain resorts of the Troodos range.
Limassol is the island’s second largest city with a population of 155.500. It is also the most important tourist and commercial centre and the biggest sea-port in Cyprus. Limassol’s central location also makes it popular with anyone who likes to explore, however, it’s buzzing nightlife and packed bars may not be to everyone’s liking. The city offers a great number of luxury hotels, most of them on the shore along a 15km coastline, made of dark sand and shingle, some of them with their own marinas. Restaurants and tavernas also abound serving the whole range of local, regional and international dishes.
It is famous for the variety of its night entertainment, its tavernas with Greek bouzouki, modern discos and steamy nightclubs. Shopping in the centre of town is another big attraction for visitors. The local people are well-known to both Cypriots and foreign visitors alike for their hospitality and lively nature. This lively nature becomes more pronounced during the course of the two big festivals taking place in the city. First, the Spring Carnival with its traditional Parade and, second, the late summer Wine Festival. In the city’s environs there are numerous archaeological sites to visit covering the whole spectrum of the island’s history and even pre-history from the neolithic settlement at Sotera, to Roman Kourion, to Mediaeval Kolossi Castle, to Byzantine churches. Then there are the picturesque villages on the mountain slopes, known the world over for their excellent wines, including the famous Commandaria. It was already the island’s main port during Lusignan times. However, by the 19th century, after being ravaged by fires, floods and earthquakes, it lost most of its importance to Larnaka and Famagusta, which became the main ports of the island. It gradually gained in importance during the British colonial period with the establishment of Cyprus’s first industrial units – mainly agricultural product processing (wine-making, fruit-juice production, fruit-canning) and light industry (shoe-making, clothing).
Its population grew rather rapidly during the first half of the 20th century mainly because of the influx of rural populations from the district itself as well as from Paphos district to the west. Following the Turkish invasion of 1974, Limassol took over from Ammochostos as the island’s biggest port. It also became the island’s biggest commercial and tourist centre while industrial activity also increased. The city’s cultural life is quite hectic with ancient Greek drama, Shakespeare plays and modern works being performed every summer in open air Greco-Roman theatre of Kourion by local and visiting theatre companies, contributing greatly to the cultural life of the island. The city based theatre companies continue their activity during the winter season in city theatres.