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A kebab restaurant in Lapithos
A kebab restaurant in Lapithos
Lapithos is located in Cyprus
Location in Cyprus
Coordinates: 35°20′12″N 33°10′27″E / 35.33667°N 33.17417°E / 35.33667; 33.17417Coordinates: 35°20′12″N 33°10′27″E / 35.33667°N 33.17417°E / 35.33667; 33.17417
Country  Cyprus
 • District Kyrenia District
 • Mayor Fuat Namsoy
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 7,839
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Website Cypriot municipality (in exile)
Turkish-Cypriot municipality

Lapithos or Lapethos (Greek: Λάπηθος;[2] Turkish: Lapta) is a town in Cyprus. The city lies in the northern part of Cyprus which is under military occupation by Turkey since the 1974 Turkish Invasion of Cyprus.

According to Strabo, the settlement was founded by Spartans. In Assyrian inscriptions, Lapithos is mentioned as one of the eleven Cypriot kingdoms. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians. The last independent king Praxippos was subdued by Ptolemy I in 312 BC.

Lambousa is the name currently used for the ancient Roman town on the coast about 3 kilometres (2 miles) north of the current Lapta.



Strabo says that Lapethos is a ‘construction of the Laconians and of Praxandros’.[citation needed] The philosopher Alexander of Ephesus called it "Imeroessa" 'attractive, passion-arousing'.[citation needed]

The archaeologists[who?] refer to Lapethos as colony of the Laconians, built after the Trojan War (c. 1000 BC) by Praxandros its first king.[dubious ] However, findings from excavations i.e. pots and pottery wheels date back its existence as early as 3000 BC. Diodoros of Sicily refers to Lapethos as one of the nine kingdoms of Cyprus, in writing on the 4th century BC.[citation needed]

Peisistratos, king of Lapithos, with his flotilla, together with Nicocreon of Salamis and Stasanor of Curion, came to the aid of Alexander the Great, helping him to capture Tyre in Phoenicia. For this reason Alexander, the victorious army commander, declared Cyprus free from the Persians. The last king of Lapethos was Praxippos.

Roman, Byzantine and Luisignan periods[edit]

Map showing the ancient city-kingdoms of Cyprus

During the period of the Roman Empire, Lapethos had more than 10,000 inhabitants. It formed one of the four districts of Cyprus.[citation needed] From ancient times, Lapithos became a centre for the processing of copper and more importantly an earthenware centre.

During the proto-Christian period (25 BC – 250 AD) Lapethos experienced a great commercial drive because of the plethora of its produce, but also because of its port and its shipyard. During this period Lapethos was given the name Lambousa, "shining", maybe because of its shining wealth or because of its shining beauty and cleanliness or because of its lighthouse, which shed shining light to the surrounding region.

During the first years of Christianity the apostles Paul, Barnabas and Mark passed by Lapethos coming from Tarsus. According to Apostle Barnabas, Lapethos had city walls.[citation needed] He cites that during his second tour with Apostle Mark, they stayed outside the walls because they were not given access to the city. In late antiquity, Lapethos enjoyed great prosperity in commerce as well as in riches, art and development. Bishop of Lapithos Theodotos (c. 314-324) died a martyr in Kyrenia while Bishop Didymos was represented at the 4th Ecumenical Synod (451) by Saint Eulaleus or Eulampius, whose chapel can still be found near the Acheiropoietos Monastery.

Lapethos was heavily damaged during the Arab incursions. The population often had to flee and take refuge in the interior.

Upon the Byzantine recovery of Cyprus from the Arabs in 965, Lapithos’s refugees returned to their town to rebuild it in a new location, not by the sea, but at the foot of mountain Pentadactylos.

During the Lusignan period, Lapithos boasted a greater population than Limassol, Famagusta or Paphos. It was known under the name Le field de la Pison, believed[who?] to be a false etymology for Lapithos. It is known that a few years before the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus (1571), 3000 troops were stationed at Lapithos under the command of Zanetto Dandolo, who was killed during the defense of Nicosia.

Ottoman period[edit]

Under Ottoman rule (1571–1878), the Ottoman government seized a great amount of landed property owned by Greeks[citation needed]. In addition, two Greek Orthodox churches were converted into mosques. In 1780 a section of Lapithos was split off to form a new village, Karavas.

During the Greek War of Independence on 18–21 June 1821, Konstantinos Kanaris, captain of a fire ship, paid a visit to Lapithos in order to take provisions and to recruit men. Kanaris anchored at Asprovrisi. He was hosted at Paspallas house at Ayia Paraskevi. There they ‘staged a funeral’ burying weapons (mainly local knives) and other provisions in the local cemetery by the sea. During the following nights sailors from Kanaris’ fire ship unearthed the stuff, loaded it on board and left with sixteen new recruits. The Turkish rulers found out about the incident days later. Not surprisingly they took severe action. They beheaded the local headman Chatzelias, Hadjinicholas and another fifteen Lapithiotes in Nicosia on 9 July 1821.[citation needed]

British rule[edit]

Further information: British Cyprus

Soon after the British leased Cyprus from the Ottomans in 1878, Lapithos was declared a municipality. Andreas Koumides took office as Mayor.

The people of Lapithos participated in the EOKA's anti-colonial war of 1955–1959. Many young Lapithiotes were trained in the tactics of guerrilla warfare by Gregoris Afxentiou and later by Kyriakos Matsis. Lapithos was at the forefront of the sabotage campaign against colonial rule. Bombs exploded and British troops were ambushed and attacked. For this reason the community was ordered to pay heavy collective fines. Men were detained while a curfew was often imposed.


Situated about 14 Kilometers west of Kyrenia, on the northern coast of Cyprus, on the East it borders with Karavas, on the West with Basileia, on its South with the villages of Sysklhpos, Agridaki, and Larnaka tis Lapithou. It spreads from the high mountains of Pentadactylos to the waters of the Mediterranean. In fact, it rests against the background of the highest peak of Pentadactylos, the Kyparissobouno, which reaches about 1024 meters high, its highest peak, exquisite Lapithos spreads in the green reaching the Mediterranean coast.

The village was constituted of six enories (parishes). Each enoria had its own civil and religious administration. There was a community council under a chairman and an ecclesiastical authority with a Greek Orthodox priest. Moreover every enoria had its own cemetery. The six enories were the following:

Ayia Anastasia and Ayia Paraskevi in Upper Lapithos were known as the Pano Enories (Upper Parishes). Ayios Theodhoros on the west side of the village and Timios Prodhromos and Ayios Loukas in the centre, while Ayios Minas lay to the east.

Farming and crops[edit]

Lapithos has fertile land and rich water resources due to its headspring (Kefalovryso). A variety of trees are cultivated. Citrus, especially lemon-trees, thrive producing 11-12 million lemons per year. It was the greatest production in the island. The lemon-tree grown in the Lapithos area (Lemonia Lapithiotiki) is well known in Cyprus. The orchards of Lapithos filled the place with their green colour. In springtime every span of the land smelled sweetly. The scent of lemon blossom was omnipresent. Olive-trees thrived especially in the hilly areas. Carob-trees also prospered. They provided the so-called ‘black gold’ at a time when commerce was not at its best.

Water-loving plants like pistachio trees, konari and kolokasi were plentifully cultivated in the Lapithos plain. Mulberry-trees were planted on the edge of the orchards in order to protect the lemon-trees from the winds and the saltiness of the sea but also to provide food for the silkworm the mainstay of the silk industry.

The green-clad orchards with their evergreen lemon-trees, citron-trees (nerantzies), tangerine-trees, grapefruit-trees, bergamot-trees and all sorts of orange-trees formed the green background of the scene as if of a painting most conspicuous in Spring as the white blossom of the trees embellished every inch of the land.

The great variety of white plums in Lapithos was perhaps unique. Red, yellowish tzianeres (very sweet and round that can be eaten unripe) but also the so-called flokkaroues (long and greenish) are varieties peculiar only to Lapithos. Plum-trees, reklot, formoses, red-leaved pournelies, mavropournelloues (small round blackish pournelles) were abundant. They provided extra income to the local farmers.

Former municipality[edit]

When Cyprus became British Colony in 1878, the British set about re-organizing the administrative structure of the island. Thus Lapithos became one of the ten new ‘municipalities’. Both the Mayor and the Municipal Council were democratically elected by the people of Lapithos. As a result competent personalities were elected in office, who strived for the progress and well-being of the small town.

This Municipal Council stayed in office until the end of 1987, thirteen years after the division of the island.

The 1974 catastrophe put all the activities of the municipality to a halt. The displaced Lapithiotes were dispersed not only around the island but also in the world at large. The items on the agenda of the first post-1974 meeting of the Municipal Council on 13 January 1975 were as follows:

1. Jobs in the civil service for the now unemployed municipal employees. 2. Problems of the municipal employees. 3. Enlightenment campaign on the Cyprus National Problem.

The Municipal Council meetings took place in the homes of its members until the Municipality was offered temporary offices at 37 Ammochostou Street, Nicosia, west of Ammochostos Gate. The Municipality of Lapithos found itself under the same roof with also refugee Municipality of Kythrea. The current Mayor of the town is Athos Eleftheriou.

Churches and mosques[edit]

The town is divided into six parishes. Each one of the six bears the name of the saint to whom the parish church is dedicated. Starting from the west plains the traveller finds the parish church of Ayios Theodhoros Stratilatis – Saint Theodore the Victorious Army Commander. Next, one finds the parish church of Apostolos Loukas – Apostle Luke – and finally the parish church of Ayios Minas – Saint Minas. On the hills there are another two. First, the church of Ayia Anastasia – Saint Anastasia – situated in a commanding spot with a large yard surrounding it in which there is a primary school. Then, on higher ground, there is the largest of parish churches in the village, that of Ayia Paraskevi – Saint Paraskevi. This is also the location of the Kefalovryso – headspring. Last but not least, right in the town centre, lies the Church of Timios Prodhromos – Holy Prodhromos, dated back to the 18th century, the oldest in Lapithos.

In the Saint Theodore's interior old Byzantine books and icons were kept. According to testimonies of Greek Cypriots exiled by the Turkish invasion, by 1975 every piece of treasure in this historic church was pillaged.[citation needed]

The Haydar Pashazade Mehmet Bey Mosque in Lapithos is an Ottoman style stone mosque.[1]

Famous locals[edit]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — sister cities[edit]

Lapithos is twinned with:


  1. ^ KKTC 2011 Nüfus ve Konut Sayımı [TRNC 2011 Population and Housing Census] (PDF), TRNC State Planning Organization, 6 August 2013, p. 21 
  2. ^ The pronunciation of which has changed since antiquity. Originally Cypriot Λάπαθος Lapathos.
  3. ^ "Büyükçekmece - Twin Towns". ©Büyükç Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  4. ^ "Kemer - Twin Towns". © Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  5. ^ "Karpoš - Twin Towns". ©Karpoš Retrieved 2015-03-22. 

External links[edit]