Larnaca, or Larnaka, is a city on the southeast coast of Cyprus. The major international airport of Cyprus is located south of this city. In ancient times, Larnaka was known as Kition, or (in Latin) Citium. The biblical name Kittim, though derived from Citium, was in fact used quite generally for Cyprus as a whole, and occasionally by the Hebrews for the Greeks.
Originally colonised by ancient Greeks, it later became the principal Phoenician colony in Cyprus. The ancient site is at the north end of modern Larnaca. The earliest remains go back to the Mycenean age (ca 1400–1100 BC) and mark an Aegean colony.
A famous Athenian general, Kimon, died at sea defending the city of Citium in a major battle with the Persians of Xerxes. He told his officers to keep the news of his death secret. The quote "Και Νεκρος Ενικησα" ("Even in death I was victorious") was attributed to Kimon. A bust of "Kimon the Athenian" stands proudly on the sea front promenade of modern Larnaca.
Christianity came to Larnaca in the 1st century BC. Legend has it that Lazarus, who was resurrected by Jesus, settled in the city and became its first bishop. He eventually died in Larnaca. The name "Larnaca" is derived from the Greek word for a type of sarcophagus, traditionally the sarcophagus that Lazarus was buried in.
Like other cities of Cyprus, it has suffered repeatedly from earthquakes, and in medieval times when its harbour silted up (a sign that the island was deforested and overgrazed) the population moved to Larnaca, on the open seafront farther south. The harbour and citadel have now disappeared. Traces remain of the circuit wall, and of a sanctuary with copious terra-cotta offerings; the large cemetery has yielded constant loot to illicit excavation for more than a century.
The modern city is the main yachting centre of Cyprus and the port facility attracts boats from all over the Mediterranean. The principal airport of Cyprus is also located here, built after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in 1974, when Nicosia Airport was closed.
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