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The Fatsa Wax Museum in Cyprus adds new famous faces September 4, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Larnaca.
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Famous faces such as David Beckham, George Clooney and Danny DeVito are coming to Cyprus. But before you get too excited, the move won’t be made by the real-life stars themselves but by their wax models.

The location is the Fatsa Wax Museum in the lace-making village of Lefkara, which offers the visitor a historical view of the culture of Cyprus and has now expanded to incorporate an international section, which is due to open shortly.

The Museum, which opened in May 2005, has more than 200 sculpted wax models, covering 3,000 years of life in Cyprus, from the Neolithic period to the present day. At the grand opening, the Museum’s owner and General Manager, Pambos Nicolaides, said: “I see this as a shining pearl of Cyprus’ cultural inheritance and a valid point of reference and remembrance of the intricacies of Cyprus history.” He said he was inspired by a visit to London’s Madame Tussauds and told a friend that he would one day open a similar museum on the island.

Yesterday, Nicolaides explained that the international section will also feature, among others, the Beatles, Peter The Great and, Superman and Batman for the children. He added that many visitors to the Museum are non-Cypriots, “so I thought it would be a good idea for them to see things and people that they can relate to.” According to Nicolaides, the new section will be made up of around 80 to 90 models, with some even wearing original clothes, which have been ordered from Walt Disney.

Inside Fatsa Wax Museum, visitors pass through a parade of Cypriot politicians, led by the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, and his successors Spyros Kyprianou, George Vassiliou, Glafcos Clerides, and Tassos Papadopoulos.

Alongside them in a series of tableaux depicting golden or dramatic moments of Hellenic life are Saint Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, and her husband the Emperor Constantinos Chlorus, Cyprus’ Archbishop Kyprianos, legendary hero of the Greek resistance against the Ottomans who was hanged in 1821, General George Grivas Digenis, leader of the EOKA independence fight against the British in the 1950s. There are also depictions of village life of days gone by and a wax reproduction of a traditional Cyprus country wedding.

There are eight themed segments, marking a chronological review of the island’s historical, cultural and political past and present, when the island was constantly in the footsteps of the conquerors of this strategic prize.

His Museum, Nicolaides asserted, will remind present and future generations of the problems that were faced and overcome by Cypriots throughout history, as they provided a series of ideals for their country. “The museum has been a great success and I am now thinking of expanding in Cyprus and maybe abroad,” he said.

For further information > the Fatsa Wax Museum
G. Papandreou Street, Pano Lefkara, Tel 24 621048
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, November – April: 09:00 – 17:30, May – October: 09:00 – 19:00
Entrance: C£3.50 for adults, C£2.50 for students and pensioners, C£2.00 for children 6-12 yrs.

Larnaca plans big changes June 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Larnaca.
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A stroll around the town reveals some of the changes already installed, which are the predecessors to imminent bigger improvements planned by the Larnaca Municipality.

On the doorstep of our hotel lies a town of tiny, twisted streets and an assortment of shops. Browsy tourist shops juxtapose with designer stores, as well as high street favourites like Zara, Mango, Marks & Spencer and The Body Shop. The atmosphere in the town is relaxed, with locals going about their daily business, men sitting on corners drinking Greek coffee, a younger crowd sitting in pavement cafes like Costa Coffee, and tourists rambling through the streets, taking time off from the beach a mere stone’s throw away.

Big changes are planned for the small town which is sprawled along the seafront and boasts the “biggest place where people can sit, socialise, and walk, in Cyprus”, says Larnaca’s Chief Executive, Lefteris Embedoklis, referring to the 800-metre stretch of the rambling Phinikoudes promenade, sometimes closed to cars during the summer.

“We can’t build wider pavements as our roads are narrow, but we can improve on the ones we have, such as at Zinonos Kitieus,” Embedoklis explains. “We are adding green in the narrow streets because there is none, we have planted small palm trees, fixed the pavements, and are replacing the old refuse bins with a stylish, new design. Some were sceptical about the planting at the beginning, but the trees are still there so it means the people like them. We’ve had good feedback.

“The centre of our town begins at the seaside,” continued Embedoklis. “People have to be encouraged to come to our town centre. The biggest change will be the traffic management plan. We are creating pedestrian areas and three plazas at St Lazarus, Ermou Street and near the castle. This means less traffic. There are many things in the pipeline. We are building two or three multi-storey car parks, but we are trying to encourage people to use their feet and walk or cycle.

“Larnaca is perfect for cycling because it is flat. We will create some cycle routes to attract bicycle users. The plan is that when you drive in and park, you will be lent a free bike from the car park, and when you return the bicycle, they will give back the key to your car. This concept already exists in Denmark. The colour of the bicycles, which will have baskets to make them practical for shoppers, will be prominent and individual, and they will obviously belong to the Municipality so people don’t steal them.

“The centre is small but we have an existing population of cyclists who live on yachts or boats in the marina. Every morning you see them cycling into the centre. It’s easy to implement a policy once you have an established population of cyclists.”

As a visitor I found all of this quite exciting and idyllic, imagining myself, living in a town by the sea, with fewer cars, hence less pollution, and with a cycling culture. Add some great places to shop and it all sounds perfect.

Lefteris enlightened me about the shops in the town: “People panicked during the 90s as they thought we were losing the town centre. There was a time when shops were closing every week, you could see five closing in one month. But I was confident it was simply undergoing a face lift. The concepts and products being sold were from the 1960s-70s, but now newer and better ones are appearing. We have more entertainment in the centre than we had before. We are opening cafeterias, clubs and restaurants. It’s in transition. It wasn’t going down, just changing. It used to be somewhere to buy cheap goods but now it is a boutique and more exclusive. This transition happened to many cities in the world. When shops close down, naturally, we feel sorry for the retailers, but we should be glad because it means better things will come along. One by one the shops improve and in five or ten years’ time our centre will be a boutique.”

On Sunday mornings, people can take a traditional stroll by the sea and immerse themselves in “Musical Sundays”, organised and chosen by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. A one-hour show on an open-air stage by the sea is a fantastic setting to watch a variety ranging from traditional Cypriot dances and songs to international performances. “It is primarily for tourists but also for locals who take their stroll on Sunday to see their traditions,” says Akis Ioannou, the Cultural Officer for Larnaca.

The scene is almost set. Restaurants and clubs are within walking distance by night. The beach is a three-minute walk away; pretty piazzas; pavement cafes and the ring of bicycle bells by day, with shopping therapy thrown in for good measure.

A gallery without walls June 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus, Cyprus Larnaca.
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Ten statues stand in the middle of the countryside in the vi > This October an event will see international sculptors producing ten more

On a gentle woodland slope in the village of Ayia Varvara, Cyprus now boasts its own International Sculpture Park.

For those unfamiliar with sculpture parks, landscaped gardens and immaculate lawns playing host to a variety of sculptures and installations spring to mind. But this is not the case with Cyprus as the park is still in its infancy and short of essential funding for its completion. Nevertheless, the ragged beauty of the island’s terrain adds to the exhibits. The park’s realisation is thanks to an initiative of the ‘Friends of Fine Arts’, a registered non-profit organisation.

“The land is a donation by the Ayia Varvara Community Council,” said Christos Lanitis a member of the association and an artist himself. Up to now, the park has ten contemporary sculptures scattered through it and by the end of this year another ten will be added. The land encompasses not only woodland and eucalyptus trees but a small chapel of the Holy Cross that sits on top of a hill overlooking the contemporary limestone sculptures. The first were the product of the First International Symposium of Sculpture held at the park last October, where for 15 days sculptors from France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria, Georgia, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, worked in harmony under the autumn sun in the open space that the park provides.

The association’s aim is to organise a wide range of innovative events and activities under the broad heading of education and community and to involve as many people as possible. Using the outdoor workshop spaces, the association intends to provide an exciting programme that will include symposium sculpture workshops and international art festivals to initiate a lifelong process of cultural awareness, in an effort to enrich lives and encourage creative thinking. And what a better way to do that, than to start educating our youth.

“We welcome school and college visits and on site studying with students and their art teachers. They can benefit from film screenings of the artists at work or from interacting with them,” said Lanitis.

Interreg Iiia, Greece Cyprus was the official sponsor of last year’s and this year’s International Symposium of Sculpture. “It is an EU funded programme that helps Europe’s regions form partnerships to work together on common projects. By sharing knowledge and experience, these partnerships enable the regions involved to develop new solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges. The programme funds 50 per cent of the costs involved and the rest is funded by other sponsors.”

Friends of Fine Arts has big plans for the International Sculpture Park for it to be completed and on a par with its European counterparts. At the foothill of the large stretch of land there are plans for an indoor art gallery, visitor facilities and conveniences and a cafeteria.

“Our objective is to create a sculpture park with no admission fee, thus making it accessible to everyone. We hope to attract locals and foreigners but mostly we like to think that it will be considered as an educational destination for school children and college students,” said the sculptor and added. “The cafeteria will serve the community and the youth in particular and will function on a social and cultural level.”

A trip to the Sculpture Park is exciting to all five senses. Sculpture is presented in an ever changing setting where students may touch, feel and explore works of art, using their senses, imagination and intellect. A ‘gallery without walls’ gives people an opportunity to respond to and think about sculpture in relation to the landscape. The International Sculpture Park is ideal for teaching and learning about sculpture and a wide range of subjects at all stages of the National Curriculum and beyond.

The registered charity is dedicated to supporting the work of the Park. Specifically, it is dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to create and exhibit large-scale work in a unique environment that encourages strong interaction between artists, art works and the public. Its intention is “to make our world a more beautiful and meaningful place for all people, regardless of race, creed and colour, using the best medium of all, art.”

The park’s existence is based on the belief that revitalisation and creative expression are essential to the survival and improvement of our urban environment. “I believe that Ayia Varvara village is the perfect place for this project. It is in the centre of the island and has easy access to all major towns,” Lanitis said.

The second International Sculpture Symposium will be held at the same venue in October this year and some different sculptors, from as far as Cuba, will be joining local ones in a frenzy of creativity. The artist himself is the organiser of the symposium and a seasoned participant of the programme. “I was recently taking part in such a symposium in the Netherlands and met up and worked with fellow sculptors for three weeks.” The theme of the October Symposium is the sea. “We are seeking visionary individuals and organisations to share the achievements and secure the continued success of the International Sculpture Park,” said Lanitis. Donations or sponsorships help fund exhibitions and projects associated with the Friends of Fine Art.

Related Links > www.friendsoffinearts.org.cy

The ultimate lifestyle choice among Cyprus coastline June 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Architecture Infrastructure, Cyprus Larnaca.
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An elegant village complex has just been released in the South east coast of Cyprus by ELIAN Developers.

Eleni Gardens is a superb development of 47 self-contained, detached villas located in Ayia Triada only 10 minutes walk away from the quiet local beach. Currently on sale as an off-plan development, the first property investors’ benefit from a 15% discounted price of the actual market rate. Just over a month after its launch Eleni Gardens has less than half its properties available for sale.

Property investors looking to purchase in Cyprus will be very pleased to know that an elegant village complex has just been released by the well known company of ELIAN Developers. Following the recent sales success of Athina Gardens village, ELIAN Developers decided to build a similar project in the adjacent land. With new architectural details added to improve the features and attractiveness of each villa, Eleni Gardens was created.

Within blooming fields of olive and orange trees in the Ayia Triada countryside, Eleni Gardens will be settled with 47, two storey high, detached villas. Comprising 2 or 3 bedrooms, clean lines with a contemporary outlook and traditional finishing details, these properties will blend seamlessly within the surrounding area.

Designed to please, the development incorporates colourful buildings enhancing the Mediterranean appeal, bright open spaces in each property including private gardens and swimming pool ideal to relax and enjoy the life alfresco.

A discerning use of high quality finishing features creates a distinctive ambience ideal for a holiday home: fully fitted kitchen and bathrooms inclusive of a shower spa; Italian ceramic flooring and marble staircase; built in wardrobes lined with shelves in all bedrooms; air conditioning units in all rooms and double glazed wide windows throughout ensure that the natural sunlight is brought indoors to create a welcoming atmosphere.

The peaceful surroundings offer a variety of all necessary amenities from supermarkets to traditional tavernas and residents can reach the secluded beach and crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea within a short 10 minute walk. The more energetic can enjoy the various activities in the local area from water sports to boat trips along the Famagusta coastline or take a visit to the lively neighbour towns of Protaras and Ayia Napa, the historical Paralimni or the breathtaking area of Cape Greco.

Currently on sale as an off-plan development, the first property investors’ benefit from a 15% discounted price of the actual market rate. Just over a month after its launch Eleni Gardens has now less than half its properties available for sale, proving its incredible success in such a short period of time. Prices start from as little as CYP152,900. 

More information can be obtained by visiting > www.eliandevelopers.com

The Byzantine Angeloktisti Church at Kiti, Cyprus May 16, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Larnaca, Science.
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angeloktisti_church.jpg  The Byzantine Angeloktisti Church at Kiti, Cyprus, the team will produce trial reconstructions of the interior as part of the project. (Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

Our understanding of what life was like in bygone eras could be boosted, thanks to a new initiative aiming to depict more accurately and realistically how heritage sites may have looked in their heyday. Computer scientists and cultural heritage researchers are assessing whether today’s increasingly sophisticated 3-d computer technology can be combined with the most recent historical evidence to produce significantly improved visual reconstructions of churches, palaces and other ancient sites.

This could help historians, students and museum visitors gain a much better feel of how such sites were perceived by the people who used them in the past and what it was actually like to be there. The project is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The work is being carried out by researchers from Warwick Manufacturing Group and the new Warwick Digital Laboratory, University of Warwick.

In particular, the effects of smoke, dust, fog and interior lighting conditions, all of which would have impacted on the way that buildings were experienced by contemporaries, can now be modelled very accurately, for the first time. New developments in display technology also mean it is possible to produce images that are many times brighter, more vivid in colour, incorporate better contrast between light and dark, and are therefore much more realistic, than those previously achievable.

Harnessing such capabilities developed by leading-edge organisations in these specialised fields, the Warwick team is the first to examine whether they can be combined with the most up-to-date literary and archaeological evidence, about a site’s characteristics, usage etc, and used to create 3-d computer reconstructions that provide new insight into the past.

“We’re trying to produce images that show more realistically the actual conditions of the time we’re looking back at,” says Professor Alan Chalmers, who is leading the project. “Achieving this involves taking up-to-date historical evidence and combining it with the very latest in 3-d computer technology.” “The future might see the combining of extremely accurate, high-fidelity 3-d representations with temperature, smell, sound and other parameters,” comments Professor Chalmers. “Our work may lead to a significant new tool that could help put us in closer touch with the past.”

The high-fidelity computer graphics techniques being developed within this project are equally applicable to other fields which require highly realistic visualisation, including medical images, product design, architecture and crime scene reconstruction.

In this feasibility study, the team, with the assistance of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol, the Byzantine Museum and Art Galleries, Cyprus, the University of Cyprus and Cultural Heritage Imaging, USA, are focusing on Cypriot remains from the Byzantine Empire (c.350-1450 AD).

Within a few years, the techniques being assessed could provide the basis for 3-d computer displays in museums that show how artefacts really may have appeared in their original settings. Indeed, the education sector as a whole could benefit enormously from the availability of such computer reconstructions of an unprecedented high quality.

The feasibility study, ‘A Comparative Study of the High-Fidelity Computer Reconstruction of Byzantine Art in Cyprus in the Past and Present’, is due to run for 10 months and is receiving EPSRC funding of just over £61,000.

The Byzantine period is particularly well-suited as a ‘test case’ because the use of gold in Byzantine churches, and its interplay with natural light, candlelight and architectural features, created visual effects, e.g. pictures of Christ, the Virgin Maria and saints glowing and apparently illuminated from within, that had a profound impact on worshippers. More realistic recreations of such interiors could shed valuable light on people’s spiritual lives and inform our understanding of how they viewed religious and secular authority, for instance.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

For more information visit > www.visitcyprus.org.cy

Larnaca beach rediscovered May 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Cyprus, Cyprus Larnaca.
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Depending on the period, various locations in Cyprus have proved to be very popular in real estate investment terms. This is especially true for holiday homes, both for the local as well as the foreign market.

From 1975 and through the 80s, the most popular location was Limassol with the town’s seafront being the number one spot, the Pieris Era. This was followed by Ayia Napa, in the 1980-1990s, and then by Paralimni and Protaras, in 1985-1995 as well as Paphos from the mid 1990s until today. Ayia Napa in particular now has a limited demand and the demand that there is for the eastern area of the island is directed towards Protaras and, to a lesser extent, towards the Sotira sea front, Ayia Thekla area.

Paphos, of course, remains the most popular holiday home/retirement home destination but one that has reached such high prices over recent years, especially the last two, that interest in it could well be lost. Non-seaside apartments, of 2 bedrooms, now reach approximately £110,000, whereas for a small villa on a hill with sea views can reach a price of £250,000, for a two-bed bungalow with a pool and garden. Rising land prices have a lot to do with this, as well as the lack of labour causing rising building costs, and, of course, the keen foreign demand, local demand is practically nil, which has created something like a boom. This is evidenced by the hundreds of estate agents that are active in this region.

A locality worth keeping our sights on is the Larnaca region, especially the locality west of the airport. This area is more popular with locals, those from Nicosia especially, rather than foreigners and there are many projects in this area with over 500 completed housing units mostly sold out, whereas new projects are under construction. This, not so known locality, Kiti-Pervolia, has many an attraction, which must be noted:

* It is close to the Larnaca town centre (5km) and the airport (4kms).
* It has a direct motorway link with Nicosia (30 minutes), Ayia Napa-Protaras (30 minutes), Limassol (45 minutes) and beyond.
* It has the longest sandy beach in Cyprus (5km).
* It has no discos, restaurants in the immediate neighbourhood. This is purely a residential and family area.
* It is a family based holiday resort, dominated by locals with foreign residents amounting to a relatively small percentage (30 per cent).
* Larnaca is now the subject of major infrastructural improvement, with its port becoming a cruise holiday destination, the marina expanding to reach international standards and the airport upgraded.
* It has the lowest beach and near beach house prices. The equivalent 250m² four-bedroom home on the beach in this area is £450,000-£500,000, large garden, pool, air conditioning, top quality etc, whereas for the same house in Paphos would go for £1,000,000 and for Limassol much more than this, £1,500,000.
* Pervolia village is now becoming the subject of reconstruction for its original centre and the works are now 90 per cent complete, creating many cafes and small restaurants.
* The new Four Seasons Hotel recently completed in the Sophtadhes area, 20 minutes away, with its own marina and its known top quality will provide a much needed top quality attraction.
* The expected golf course in the village of Tersefanou will be an added boost.

The locality has not been promoted by local developers abroad to a large extent and this is, perhaps, one of the reasons for low foreign demand. Until recently local projects were known for their average quality of design and construction. However, this has started to change and well designed, top quality developments are going up. Nowadays the pride of the locality, is the ecological project Possidon Beach Gardens designed by Australian landscape architects, offering private pools, security, private gardens, the largest manmade lake in Cyprus, mature tree planting etc.

However, now is the time to invest as prices may well shoot up over the next couple of years, land values have almost doubled over the last three, an indication of something bigger to follow?

The village of Lefkara April 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Larnaca.
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The village of Lefkara, west of Larnaca, is famous for its lace. It is said that Leonardo de Vinci bought lace here in 1481 for an altar-cloth in Milan Cathedral.

Lefkara is 8km from Skarinou, off the Nicosia-Limassol road, 40km from Larnaca. It is a picturesque village famous for its local lace, known as “lefkaritika” and for its silverware.

The Lefkara lace is hand-made by local women using linen. Many of the women sit in their doorways where you can watch them practicing their trade.

The beautiful House of Patsalos houses the Lace and Silverware Museum of Lefkara. The Church of Archangelos Michail in Kato Lefkara is of the single-aisled domed type and has wall paintings of the late 12th century.

At Pano Lefkara there is the Church of the Holy Cross, with beautiful 18th century and 13th century artifacts. A religious fair takes place September 13-14, in celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

The village has a traumatic history, as it was the sight of two major battles. The first was between Richard I and Comnenos in the 12th century and one in 1426 between Arabs and King Janus. It was then sacked by the Venetians and many of its inhabitants were massacred.