Cyprus Museum

Top choice in Nicosia (Lefkosia)

Just outside the Old City walls, this excellent museum houses the island's most important collection of archaeological finds. Highlights include Hall 11's haul of riches from the Royal Tomb excavations at Salamis, including a huge, intricately decorated bronze pot and a bed frame bedecked in ivory and glass. Hall 4's remarkable display of 2000 terracotta votive statues and figurines, dating back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC, were unearthed during the 1929 excavation of the Sanctuary of Agia Irini.

While in Hall 4, don't miss the interesting video on the Agia Irini discovery.

A further highlight is the collection of three limestone lions and two sphinxes found in the Tamassos necropolis south of Nicosia. Also look out for the famous Aphrodite of Soli statue in Hall 5, widely marketed as the ‘goddess of Cyprus’ on tourist posters. An enormous bronze statue of Emperor Septimus Severus, found at Değirmenlik (Kythrea) in 1928, is the magnificent main exhibit in Hall 6. A couple of lovely mosaics, such as Leda & the Swan from Palea Pafos, are exhibited in Room 7B, alongside various displays of gold objects excavated from tombs.

To further understanding of the exhibits and their historical context, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation runs a free archaeological museum tour every Tuesday and Friday at 10am and noon, and again on Wednesday at 4pm. The tour takes 90 minutes and the starting point is the museum entrance.