Popular Sports in Cyprus

Someone can call Cyprus an island of sports. Despite its small population size (just over a million) if not all the majority of its inhabitants have something to do with the sports (either as spectators or actual athletes).

The most popular sports around the island is football, Basketball, athletics/Olympic games, futsal, and Cyprus Rally which is held yearly since 1970. Some people are getting also involved in skiing, handball and volleyball and water polo in recent years.

Football was introduced to Cyprus early in the 20th century by the British and became popular. Very soon various football clubs were formed engaging in friendly matches between them. in September 1934 the Cyprus Football Association(CFA) was formed in order to regulate the sport. In 1948, the Cyprus Football Association became a FIFA member and a UEFA member in 1962. Cyprus football the recent years has achieved great achievements, mostly in the European cups, Champions League and Europa League, with F.C. APOEL entering the Champions League group stage 3 times and 3 times entering the Europa League group stage. F.C. APOEL in 2011 achieved the greatest history of Cyprus football by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals stage facing the Real Madrid. The year 2011 was one of the best in the Cyprus football as two clubs were in the European Cups Group Stages, FC APOEL and AEK Larnakas. (for more details refer to Cypriot football clubs in European competitions-Wikipedia.) There are currently 8 major football stadiums in Cyprus – Ammostochos, Antonios Papadopoulos and Neo GZS in Larnaca, Paralimni (Tasos Markou) and Dasaki (Achna), Tsirion Athletic Centre in Limassol (currently a new one is being built),  Pangkiprio Stadium (GSP) in the island’s capital and final Stelios Kyriakides stadium in Paphos

Basketball. Also a very popular sport in Cyprus but it was hit severely by the economic crisis in the last years. Sponsors due to the economic crisis pulled out thus basketball were hit severely and that took the league years back. Now slowly things are getting better and teams like AEL Limassol and AEK Larnaka have to show good European campaigns. The Cyprus National Team is now slowly taking part in the European competitions.

Athletics and Olympic Games Cypriot athletes have achieved some remarkable successes in Athletics and Olympic Games. Cyprus has sent athletes in every summer and winter Olympic Games held since 1980. Our Best representatives were Pavlos Kontides, competing in the men’s Laser class sailing event, became the first Cypriot athlete ever to win an Olympic medal for his country by winning the Silver medal at the summer Olympic Games 2012 held in London. Kyriakos Ioannou, high jumper, and Eleni Artymata, sprinter, have won several medals.  Also, Cyprus is always sending athletes to the Paralympic Games with great results. Karolina Pelendritou and Antonis Aresti have won several gold medals for Cyprus.

 

Position Olympic winner   Year City Sport  / event
           
2η Pavlos kontidis   2012 London Laser (Sailing)
Antonis Nikolaidis   2008 Beijing Skeet (Shooting)
Giorgos Achilleos   2008 Beijing Skeet (Shooting)
  Stavros Tziortzis   1972 Munich 400m hurdles
Antonis Andreou   1996 Atlanta Skeet (Shooting)
 Andri Eleftheriou    2008 Beijing Skeet (Shooting)
Pavlos Kontidis   2016 Rio Laser (Sailing)
Kyriakos Ioannou   2016 Rio Άλμα εισ Υψος
Milan Traikovic    2016 Rio 110m hurdles
Antonis Andreou   2000 Sydney Skeet (Shooting)
Apostolos Parelis   2016 Rio Δισκοβολία

Tennis, This sport has been popular in Cyprus for more than 15 years. Locals and tourists love to play tennis, both professionally and just for fun. There are clubs all over the island teaching the game to players of all ages and levels. Most of the hotels in Cyprus have tennis courts on their premises so visitors can enjoy this sport. The main reason for the popularity of this sport is Marcos Baghdatis, the Cypriot professional tennis player. Baghdatis, was the runner up at the 2006 Australian Open and a semi-finalist at the 2006 Wimbledon Championships, achieving a great season and reaching a career-high ATP singles ranking of world No.8 in August 2006.

Rallying Car rallies are very popular in Cyprus, and the first-ever held on the island dates back to 1970. Rallies have been held annually since then. The Cyprus Automobile Association deals with all rally matters.  Most rallies in Cyprus are held in the Troodos area near Limassol. Rallying in Cyprus tends to take place in summer and is, therefore, a very popular sport with the many tourists that visit the island in this season. It is important to note that the European Rally Championship often takes place in Cyprus.

Volleyball.

The C.V.F. (Cyprus Volleyball Federation) was founded in 1978. Ever since volleyball has grown significantly and there are both men’s and women’s teams, 1st and 2nd division. In recent years, Omonia is dominating the sport with Pafiakos trying to break that domination. In the past the team that dominated the sport was Anorthosis.

Club Winners Winning seasons
Anorthosis 20 1973, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014
Nea Salamis 9 1990, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2013
APOEL 6 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985
Omonia 6 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022
Pafiakos 4 1992, 2004, 2006, 2018
AEK Karava 1 2012

 

Greek Orthodox Easter

As Easter approaches, an air of festivity envelops the towns and villages. Expectations are high and the buzz is clearly felt. During Holy Week, also known as Megali Evdomatha (the week before Easter Sunday), churches hold services both early in the morning and in the evening.  Easter is a movable celebration and it’s the Greatest Holiday of the Orthodox Church. It is always celebrated on the first Sunday following the first Full Moon occurring on or after the Spring equinox.

Cypriots in general are very religious and during the last week of Easter, they are fasting. Fasting actually is for 50 days as the greek orthodox church depicts but our generation nowadays seems to be able to handle it during Holy Week. It is called  “Sarakosti” (lent)  and people are not supposed to eat meat, dairy products, or oil.

Traditions

On Holy Thursday “Flaounes” are baked. Flaounes are made of shortcrust with cheese, egg, raisings, and mint filling. All the family will gather together from early in the morning and will help bake them. In some areas like Paphos they bake variations of Flaounas where they mix meat also, that variation is called Paskia. Also on the same day, we dye eggs to symbolize Christ’s Blood from the Cross.

During the evening people go to church as it is the crucifixion of Christ and people “mourn”. The Church’s icons are covered with black veils to show their grief.

“Epitafios” is on Holy Friday. Everyone takes flowers to the church and they decorate the Epitafios. During the evening servicemen carry the “Epitafios” outside the Church around the neighborhood and back to the church, where people follow the “Epitafios” the whole time.

On Holy Saturday morning, people go to church from early in the morning as it is the service that symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.  The church doors and seats are banged by the people and all the black veils that cover the icons drop.

At midnight everybody goes to church and celebrates the resurrection of Christ.  Candles are lit by the Holy Light (brought straight from Jerusalem) and many people take home their candle with the Holy Light in order for their house to be blessed. Another great tradition takes place on Good Saturday, called “Lambratzia”. Kids collect wood for weeks to set up an enormous burning spot in order for an effigy of Judas, the traitor, to be burned in the churchyard.

After the midnight service, the whole family gathers together for a feast. People eat a special kind of soup called “Avgolemono”. They also crack the hard-boiled, dyed, eggs and say “Christos Anesti” which means “Christ has risen from the dead,” and the response is “Alithos Anesti” which means indeed He has risen.

Holy Sunday or “Pascha”! On this day prepare to eat like never before.  This day is all about family and friends. They all gathered together for a big feast with lots of dyed eggs, flaounes, souvla, koupepia (stuffed vine leaves) pastitsio (makaronia tou fournou) and wine.

Mystes Winery

Mystes is the next generation of Cypriot wines. A newly established boutique family winery committed to producing wines of the highest caliber and distinction, each expressing the unique terroir of the property, located in Archimandrita village about 33 kilometers east of Paphos at an altitude of 550 meters, in the heart of the wine-producing area.

Visitors will be guided through a modern family winery and get introduced to the principles of organic cultivation of the vine and the “secrets” of wine. Visitors have the opportunity to do some wine tasting while enjoying spectacular views of the valley.

Cyprus Wine Routes

The island’s longstanding tradition of winemaking needs no further proof than its claim to the world’s oldest named wine still in production – that of Commandaria, proclaimed by Richard the Lionheart as the “wine of the kings and the king of the wines.” And whilst the same ancient grape varieties are still cultivated; and the same villages produce wine in the old, traditional ways, the island’s wine industry has also vastly modernized, progressed, and expanded. Whether you’re a connoisseur or a simple lover of the drink that locals once worshipped as the ‘nectar of the Gods, you will delight in discovering a host of charming wineries and wine growing regions along seven glorious wine routes.

From the high, southern slopes of the Troodos mountain range, to a stunning stretch between Limassol and Paphos, and the rural areas of Larnaca and Nicosia routes are all sign-posted and will take you through valleys of indigenous grape varieties, picture-perfect landscapes, and a journey of knowledge about the island’s intrinsic viticultural roots.

Along the way, you will be welcomed warmly at quaint villages and wineries, where you can sample choice vintages, learn from the locals, and even find a wine museum or two. After all, the art of wine in Cyprus is more than simply a way of life; it is an inherent passion with roots that go even deeper than those of its vines.