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Wouldn’t it be nice to spend Easter on a beautiful Mediterranean island – while spending less to do it? While sunny Cyprus is known as the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, it is also richly associated with early Christian history and many of its sights are fascinating for travelers of any faith. It was actually in Cyprus that St. Paul, traveling with St. Barnabas, succeeded in converting an ancient Roman proconsul to the Christian faith, in effect making him the first official in the Roman Empire to adopt Christianity.
The St. Raphael Resort is a family-friendly luxury resort in Limassol near the town’s ancient Amathous ruins, with 216 spacious rooms and suites that were renovated less than two years ago. There’s a huge swimming pool, private marina and beach, six restaurants (including the hip Sailor’s Rest) and three bars, and in April the newly renovated Serenity Spa re-opens. Perhaps best of all, you can save 20 percent on all bookings made before March 31 (the actual discounted reservations can be for after March 31). On Easter itself (April 23), you can book an optional Easter package, which for 75 euros per person above your room rate is pretty amazing considering what you get: a complimentary shuttle to the historic Pyrgos Village church for midnight Easter Mass, followed by a fireworks display, then back to the resort for a buffet featuring traditional Greek delicacies like Magiritsa (traditional Greek soup), Flaounes (traditional Easter cheese pastry), and Tsourekia (sweet bread). On Easter Sunday, there’s a buffet lunch and traditional Cypriot show with music and dance, as well as a poolside cooking demo with unlimited shots of Zivania (a potent Cypriot liqueur) and retsina wine.
Another great Easter deal is available at Lordos Beach Hotel in Larnaca – the seaside Cypriot town that is home to St. Lazarus Church and also close by the international airport. On April 23 and 24, this lovely modern property is offering an Easter package deal for just 280 euros for a double room (total for both nights) that includes accommodation with breakfast, participation in a traditional midnight mass at a local Greek Orthodox church, one free dinner, Easter brunch and – double yum – a bottle of house wine and chocolates upon arrival. Celebrate and save!
Fascinating Christian sites abound on Cyprus. In Pafos you can see St. Paul’s Pillar. In Larnaca there’s Agios Lazarus Church, built over the tomb of St. Lazarus. The imposing Crusader-era fortress in Limassol, now a museum, is where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre. Many fine examples of Byzantine art have survived on the island remarkably intact, and you can see them for yourself in painted churches with their colorful frescoes, ten of which have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. And not only is it magical to admire the sumptuous pageantry of Greek Orthodox religious festivals whose origins go back almost too many centuries to ponder, but at Easter it’s easy and affordable, too.
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