|It’s hard to believe that only 20 years ago Ayia Napa was a sleepy fishing village with a population of 200. |
Named after a small church located in the centre of the village, Saint Panayia, meaning Mother of Christ, the village was transformed into a tourist resort after the invasion of Famagusta in 1974 which resulted in a huge loss of tourism for the island.
Over the years, the resort has grown in size and popularity and is now the most visited resort in Cyprus, attracting hundreds of thousands of local and foreign holidaymakers annually.
If you step away from the main nightlife area and take a closer look, you will discover that Ayia Napa is full of history and tradition, making it impossible for even the most discerning visitor not to find something that will interest them.
At the heart of Ayia Napa lies a beautiful medieval monastery with quiet, cloistered gardens and an ancient church. Legend has it that many centuries ago a hunter's dog chased a hare into a cave and, when the man followed he found a glowing icon of the Virgin Mary in the cave. The few inhabitants searched the cave, and they discovered the remains of a small church. Then another church was built on top of the cave and still stands today. Immediately beside the church is the main square, with its fountain and benches beneath the trees. Every summer Traditional Dance groups give performances here and at the end of September the Ayia Napa Street Festival takes place, with local and international dancers, singers and musicians providing first-class entertainment for hundreds of spectators.