At the great lake, on which hundreds of flamingos wade, there is a huge structure that catches the eye from a distance. This is Hala Sultan Tekke, a place of pilgrimage for Muslims from all over the world, and the lake is called Larnaca Salt Lake.
Among the numerous attractions of Cyprus, the Salt Lake, situated near the third largest city of the island, Larnaca, on the south-eastern coast, deserves attention. Every year thousands of birds rest there (migration corridor). They gain strength before continuing their journey, and some stay here for the winter. The lake is especially popular with flamingos, who come here every season in great numbers. It is they that attract tourists the most among the approx. 90 species living around the reservoir.
Larnaca Salt Lake is one of the two salt water reservoirs on the island. The second is adjacent to Limassol and is much larger. It is situated on the Akrotiri Peninsula, hence its name - Akrotiri Salt Lake - and is the overseas territory of Great Britain. Tourists wishing to explore its surroundings are forbidden to photograph military facilities, but there are no restrictions on entering the area by the lake.
About half of the reservoir is wetlands. The water depth does not exceed 30 cm, which makes the lake an ideal place for wading birds. Flamingos resting on one leg have become a permanent feature of the landscape. Similar views can be enjoyed at Larnaca Salt Lake .
The Larnaca reservoir itself consists of several interconnected lakes. Spiro, Sorosa and Aliki Orphani form an irregularly shaped complex, and the fourth, smallest lake is cut off from the others by the road to the main airport of the island. All four were included in the Natura 2000 area, thus creating a protected area. In winter, the reservoir fills up with water and comes to life, while in summer it dries up - then you can see salt lying on its bottom. In the past it was harvested for export, today it freely covers the bottom like snow.
Hala Sultan Tekke - the sanctuary of Islam
Salt Lake is a great but not the only attraction of Larnaca. To its shore there are pilgrimages rushing to Hala Sultan Tekke , a temple that is one of the largest Muslim sanctuaries. It was built on the tomb of the wife of the leader of the first Arab invasion of Cyprus, Umm Haram. Initially, it was supposed to be a simple burial place, with time it grew into a huge complex consisting of a mosque, a mausoleum and a minaret, as well as residential plots. The exact date of its construction commencement is unknown. Umm Haram was not only the wife of the general who attacked Cyprus - she is considered Muhammad's mummy, hence the mosque is so important to the followers of Islam.
Hala Sultan Tekke is beautifully characterized by white domes and slender towers against the background of green palm trees growing around the lake.
A ribbon-long history of Larnaca
The history of Larnaca has to do not only with Islam but also with Christianity. Lazarus spent the rest of his life in this city after Jesus was resurrected. A church dedicated to him was built on the site of the tomb. But Larnaca is much older - in the center, where modern buildings stand today, are the remains of the ancient city-state of Kition . What's more, archaeologists have found that the area has been involved since the Neolithic.
Today, Larnaca is a beautiful seaside resort with a beach covered with dark sand (Blue Flag status) and a promenade with a strip of palm trees. At night, there is a buzz from the nearby cafes, restaurants and taverns, and during the day, numerous water sports centers encourage you to take advantage of the offer. If not during the holidays, it is definitely worth visiting the city in December, for example. Sunny weather is here almost 6 times more often than in Poland. Do you need any other reason to come?
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