Ayia Napa History Facts and Timeline

(Ayia Napa, Famagusta, Cyprus)

The history of Ayia Napa is relatively unremarkable and ranks a distant second to the modern draws of this southern Cypriot resort - namely its beaches, activities and nightlife. There is not much of significance until around the 19th century. However, with the extensive history of Cyprus in general, there are some worthwhile sights nearby.

This resort town takes its name from its Greek patron saint, St. Napa, with 'Ayia' meaning holy, and his monastery can be seen in the middle of the town today. The Ayia Napa Monastery (built by the Venetians) hails from the late 1500s and remains in a good state, along with its famous fig tree, which is believed to be older than the monastery itself. Conveniently for sightseers, the monastery is not far from the bars and clubs.

Founding and Turkish Invasion

Ayia Napa developed much later than other places in Cyprus, since the area had a thick covering of forest. Consequently, it generally only attracted monks and hunters in its early days. It wasn't until the last decade of the 18th century that the town would be settled in the main, by visiting Salonika fishermen. Thus, the oldest site in the town is the monastery, although the nearby Makronissos Tombs hail from a much earlier time.

Despite the nearby Dhekelia British Sovereign Base, Ayia Napa remained a quiet place right up until the 1970s, when the Turkish invaded from the north in the year of 1974. As a result, folks from the Famagusta region poured into the area and began to build. By the 1980s, Ayia Napa history was made as the town became a busy holiday resort, attracting mostly younger visitors for its burgeoning nightlife scene, and, of course, its beaches.

Modern Ayia Napa

Ayia Napa really took off in the 1990s, with commercialism spreading ever further from the town centre, together with innumerable bars and clubs. It became a major draw for clubbers from the UK by the year 2000, even rivalling the scene in Ibiza. Several more modern attractions have since been added, including a water park and a popular bungee jump.

Ayia Napa is, however, quieter today and is frequently also touted as a destination for couples and families. Though it has greatly expanded from its early 19th century days, it retains a village-like feel and is one of the safer Mediterranean places to visit. People still come to Ayia Napa to appreciate its history.

Culture and History Insights

Information on Ayia Napa's historic sites is best learned about at the Pierides Foundation museums. They focus on the sea, with the Thalassa maritime museum featuring a replica of the 4th-century Kyrenia trading ship and an ancient Mesolithic raft made from papyrus.

Those wishing to learn more about the culture of Cyprus can do so at the Folk Art Museum, with its antique furniture and period costumes.