Every year the European Union designates two cities within the Union as its ‘European Capitals of Culture’. One city from the North of Europe, and one from the South. What does it mean to be awarded this title? It means that for the period of one calendar year, the city organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension, to highlight diversity of culture and a sense of belonging within the European community.
Preparing a European Capital of Culture also presents the city with a fantastic opportunity to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits as well as helping to foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.
In 2013, Paphos was announced as one of the winning cities of the European Capitals of Culture 2017 alongside Aarhus in Denmark – the first time that a city in Cyprus has won, and the smallest city to have won, since the event was started back in 1985. Bravo Paphos!
Pafos2017’s moto is “Linking Continents – Bridging Cultures” and all events fall under their three main themes: Myth & Religion, World Travellers and Stages of the Future. Open Air Factory is the main concept for the organisation, which is the concept of utilising a network of sections, units and workshops throughout the district (such as streets, school yards, archaeological sites) where people from all walks of life are invited to ‘create’, celebrating the outdoor living culture here, where we are so fortunate to benefit from such a mild climate – after all, the culture here began under the blue skies in the form of ancient open theatres and open markets!
The vision is to turn the city into a living museum of visual arts. So far there have been theatrical performances, dance performances, creative & group art, and more.
Among many of the Cypriot traditions we have chosen to highlight food, dance and music to give you a peak inside the culture in Cyprus:
Food: If there’s one thing you are unlikely to get in a good Cypriot tavern then that’s a small portion. The Cypriot diet largely consists of meat and salad and involves appetizers, delicacies and sweets. Mezes epitomize the Cypriot cuisine and are not for the faint hearted; pitta, dips, salad, meats, cheeses, fish and more! Sweets in Cyprus are typically honey-soaked pastries, or sweet fruit preserves. Bon appetit! See page 27 for some more recommendations.
Dance: Dancing is a big part of life and still not deemed as ‘uncool’ for the younger generation, dancing is the backbone of festivals, bouzouki clubs & weddings. Traditional dress is often worn. Look out for the dancing that involves yielding a sickle, sieve or glass.
Music: Traditional Cypriot folk music is very similar to Greek, and is typically played by violin, bouzouki, accordion, lavouto & boulgari and oud. ‘Tsiattista’ singing accompanies music – these are poetic improvisations representing everyday life situations.
Cyprus Nights: The best way of getting a real taste of Cypriot culture is to go along and enjoy (at least) one of the Cyprus Nights that frequent throughout the summer months. Cypriots love to show off their traditions to the tourists and we guarantee you will leave your Cyprus Night fully entertained, full-bellied and having experienced a lovely insight into the country’s history. It’s a fantastic way for children to learn about a foreign way of life too, especially as children are such an important part of society.
Recommended Cyprus Nights:
- Bouzoukia at O’Vrakas Tavern in Pissouri on Wednesdays.
- Kouklia Village Square on Thursdays.
- Platea Tavern and O’Vrakas Tavern in Pissouri on Fridays.