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Visit The Hidden & Unique Side Of Cyprus This Summer

Unique and hidden attractions in Cyprus
Unique and hidden attractions in Cyprus [Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay]
The island nation of Cyprus is actually partitioned, with the southern two-thirds led by Greek Cypriots and the northern third by a Turkish Cypriot government. While tensions have never been fully resolved, this does mean a fascinating mix of cultures when visiting Cyprus. Meanwhile, most people know Cyprus for its sunny beaches, lapped by the Mediterranean Sea, its natural beauty and superb wines and food. However, when visiting the country, it also has a hidden or unique side that is truly interesting to see. Here we briefly look at three unusual attractions, waiting to be explored and enjoyed by adults and children alike.

1. Fairy Tale Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus

Fairy Tale Museum, Nicosia, Cyprus
Fairy Tale Museum [Image @gianniseliades/Instagram]
This first location is perfect for people who are still young at heart and love everything magical. The Fairy Tale Museum is located in a Grade II listed building and first opened in 2017. The museum aims to promote and preserve fairy stories, myths and traditions from Cyprus and around the world. On entering the museum, visitors can immediately start to explore fairy tales through interactive exhibits, artwork and rare books.

Meanwhile, throughout the museum, hidden doors lead to secret rooms that display objects from some of the most treasured fairy tales. Here, stories such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Cinderella and Aladdin come to life. Visitors are encouraged to explore the rooms, opening doors, turning gears and tinkering with objects to find out more about the stories. Even better, the “magic library” features books standing more than nine feet in height, all dedicated to folk researchers and fairy tale writers. Find out more about this magical and whimsical museum here. Also, take a brief tour in the YouTube video below.

2. The Donkeys of Dipkarpaz National Park

Located in an unspoiled area of Cyprus, Dipkarpaz National Park is home to wild black donkeys who wander around freely. The national park is in the northeast of the island and is only accessible by car.

Meanwhile, the reason for the donkeys being there is part of Cyprus’ complicated history. Back in 1974, tensions escalated between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. This led to a military coup by the Greek Cypriot military followed by attacks on the Turkish Cypriot community. Moreover, the Turkish army entered the island and formed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Donkeys of Dipkarpaz National Park, Cyprus
Donkeys of Dipkarpaz National Park [Image Wikimedia Commons]
However, when the Greek Cypriots left the northeastern part of Cyprus, they left everything behind them, including their donkeys. It seems this didn’t bother the donkeys one bit and they began roaming freely and, naturally, reproducing. Nowadays, visitors can see them wandering around in the protected area of the Dipkarpaz National Park.

Meanwhile, to enter Dipkarpaz National Park, you first have to pass through Karpasia National Park, where a curling road takes people to Dipkarpaz. On arrival, black donkeys are usually waiting near the entrance for visitors. At the top of that road is the long and beautiful Golden Beach. The donkeys may be wild, but they are friendly and usually looking for food.

3. Zenobia Shipwreck, Larnaca, Cyprus

Zenobia shipwreck, Larnaca, Cyprus
Zenobia shipwreck, Larnaca [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Back in 1980, the Zenobia was a large ferry on its maiden voyage, but it sank, some believe under mysterious circumstances. Since then, the shipwreck has become a popular diving location, but you don’t even need scuba gear to see it. The water here is so clear you can clearly see the wreck while snorkeling on the surface or in a glass-bottomed boat.

It turns out the ferry sank during a voyage with a load of trucks from Malmö in Sweden to Tartus in Syria. Apparently, the ship began listing to port due to a computer malfunction pumping excess water into the ballast tanks. While the captain seemed to have the problem under control, the ship continued towards Cyprus. However,  while in Larnaca Harbor, the listing happened again and the captain was ordered to take the ferry out to sea, in case it sank and became a hazard.

Discarded trucks on the Zenobia
Discarded trucks on the Zenobia [Image Wikimedia Commons]
While anchored offshore, the list increased and the captain ordered the crew off the ferry. It then sank to the bottom on June 7, 1980. Some local residents say that many of the ferry’s crew calmly watched it happen while seated in a bar in the harbor.

Anchored offshore, the list increased and the captain ordered the crew off the ship. In the early hours of June 7, 1980, the Zenobia capsized and sank. According to the locals, many of the crew calmly watched this happen from a harbor-side bar. Visitors can book diving and snorkeling in Larnaca, or organize a guided tour in a glass-bottomed boat from Larnaca Harbor.

Have fun exploring these and many more fascinating locations in Cyprus on your next vacation.


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