It almost seems as if Cyprus was destined to be a divided island; after all, this crossroads of the Mediterranean has seen invaders come and go for more than 9,000 years. And although that parade of powers left behind a dazzling trail of antiquities and cultural heritages, the Cypriots themselves have often paid a high price for the experience.
For visitors to the island today, the politics of division are more a matter of inconvenience. Since 1974, when Turkish troops began occupying the northern third of the island, travel from one side to the other has been restricted – which basically means that you have to choose between visiting either the Greek side or the Turkish side. The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus remains largely ignored and uncrowded, with some coastal resorts (notably Kyrenia/Girne on the northern coast) and fine archaeological sites (particularly the restored Roman ruins at Salamis).
But for the vast majority of visitors, a visit to Cyprus means a Greek holiday in the south, where the beaches and resorts (and tavernas and discos) of Agia Napa on the southeast coast have become a favorite destination of European sun seekers. Lovers of the past can view intricate mosaics in extensive ruins at Pafos, while in the center of the island, the Troodos mountains are a spectacular setting of small villages and vineyards, wildflowers and forests, and ancient monasteries that represent the soul of the island.