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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Cyprus: Cypriot Architecture

The Roman II Hotel in Pafos
The Roman II Hotel in Pafos; according to the sales pitch, you will be stunned

In his book Journey into Cyprus, which follows the author on a three-month journey through the pre-invasion Cyprus of 1972, Colin Thubron wrote the following:

[The Cypriot] is entering in thousands that trough – of how many generations? – between peasant honesty and urban refinement. 'To be civilised,' a Nicosia friend told me, 'our people must first be vulgar. It is the bridge between simplicity and culture.'

If this was the case back in 1972, then judging by the healthy prosperity of southern Cyprus today, it's probably fair to say that a fair chunk of those thousands of Cypriots who started their journey to urban refinement have reached it. The thing that depresses me, as Cyprus gears up for potential inclusion in the European Union, is that the scars of that period of vulgarity are still there for all to see. I'm talking about the appalling state of Cypriot architecture from the 1960s onwards.

The Roman Hotel
The Roman Hotel is unfortunately just as tasteless as its sequel
The Roman Hotel
The Roman Hotel is built around a genuine ruined tower

Simply Irresistible

The Acropolis restaurant and bar in west Agia Napa
The Acropolis Restaurant and Bar in Agia Napa; mmm, lovely

There is a positive side to all this mindless development, though, and that's its comedy value. If for a moment you can forget just how sad it is to see such a pretty island being dumped on by the tackiest designers on the planet, there's a lot of hilarity to be found while wandering round the tourist areas of Cyprus.

Solar-powered water heaters on a roof
Solar-powered water heaters

Once inside the Roman Hotel, you will be stunned, as you are immersed in centuries of Greek history and mythology. Resembling a Greek palace, the museum-like interior has to be seen to be believed.

A Roman Hotel that's designed to look like a Greek palace? That's just the start. I genuinely recommend a visit if you're in town, as it's the funniest thing you'll see all week (until then, feast your eyes on their website). Only after seeing it in the flesh will you appreciate that the guy who wrote the leaflet had a masterful way with sarcasm. At least, I hope he did; I really was stunned, and it really did have to be seen to be believed. Hell, my eyes are still hurting...