Yeronisos, or as it is often called ” Sacred Island “, is 12,000 square meters of rocks, rising dramatically from the swelling seas just 280 meters from the harbor at Saint George. Excavations show that Yeronisos had an active Chalcolithic phase (3100 B.C.) and flourished under the ruling of the famous Egyptian Queen Cleopatra (50-30 B.C.).
Coins, pottery, glass, inscriptions, and unique architectural remains suggest that Yeronisos preserves one of the most significant Ptolemaic sites outside Egypt. An earthquake seems to have devastated the island during the late 1st century B.C./early 1st century A.D. after which it remained abandoned, aside from some squatters’ activity, until the 6th century A.D. It was then when a reservoir with impluvium and animal shelters were built.
The Avakas Gorge is a natural sight into which light, water and colours are allowed to run free it is a primeval smile of nature, an impressive one due to its wild and majestic beauty. The area is characterized by outcrops of calvaneous rocks consisting of chalks, marls and reefal limestone, which rest on a sequence of foreign geological formations referred to as the Mamonia Formation.
The gorge is blessed with a very rich flora consisting of pine trees, mediterranean cypresses, plane trees, junipers, lentisk trees, oleanders, tamarisks, thorny brooms, wild fig trees, oak trees, styrax trees, virgin’s bowers, brambles, wild carob and olive trees, terebinths, fern trees and many others. An abundance of wild flowers is also found. An important element of the flora of the gorge is the existence of Centauria akamantis, which is found on the precipitous slopes of the gorge.
Saint George is a well-known place of pilgrimage at Cape Drepanon in village Pegeia of Paphos in the west province of Cyprus. It constitutes a counterpart to the shrine of St Andrew the Apostole at the east end of the island. Between 1952 and 1955, the Cypriot Department of Antiquities excavated three Early Christian basilicas and a bath on the cape (dating from the 6th century). The excavations were continued by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in 1992-8 and were taken over by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture’s Archaeological Expedition in Cyprus in 1999. This showed that an extensive unwalled settlement occupied the neck and the south slope of the cape in the Roman and Early Christian Periods. The settlement flourished under Justian I (527-565).
Being situated at the very western part of the island and at the mid-point of the sea route between Alexandria and Rhodes, the settlement was probably a port of call for the ships that transported grain from Egypt to Constantinople.
The Akamas Peninsula lies on the Western tip of Cyprus. Its uniqueness is centred on its precious ecology and its rich archaeological inheritance. Its breathtaking beauty is reminiscent of Homer’s time, and it hosts an impressive variety of flora and fauna. Rare endemic plants grow there, whilst reptiles, as well as many types of migratory birds, live in the Akamas.
A vital characteristic of Akamas Bay is its beaches and the existence of the last remaining sea turtle nesting sites in the region. Both the Loggerhead turtle and the Green Turtle nest there, with the rarer Green Turtle depending on the Akamas beaches for its very survival in this region. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists Loggerheads as “vulnerable” and Green Turtles as “endangered” species.
According to the IUCN, the annual number of Green Turtle nesting females in the entire Mediterranean could be as low as 325-375. Apart from Cyprus the only other beaches they nest in are some of those to be found in Southern Turkey.
The Lara-Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches of Cyprus and has always been the breeding-place for the turtles. When it was recognized that they were to be extincted, measures where taken to protect the turtles. In 1971 the Fishery Department of Cyprus declared the turtles a protected species. In the late seventies the Lara-Project was founded for the protection of these animals which was financially supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Two kinds of turtles lay their eggs on the north-west coast of Cyprus. The chelonia mydas and the caretta.In the beginning of June the first turtles appear during night at the beach, slowly dig an up to 80 cm deep hole into the sand and lay between 100 and 130 eggs. Then they disappear into the sea but return three to five times during that season. After the season has finished it might take up to three years for them to return to the same breeding place.
Conservationists try to protect the nests from foxes or birds, using cages made of wire until the young turtles hatch out after 7-8 weeks and then hurry into the sea. This is the time when most of them become victims of other animals. Turtles found on other beaches of the island are brought to Lara beach. In order to increase the survival chances, the young turtles are now kept in wire cages in the sea, until they reach a certain size. These measures actually keep the turtles in life.