How often do you get to go into a museum with no-one else in it? We were rather thrilled to fossil record onwards. The three storey structure is very architecturally appealing, partially constructed of wood, marble and onyx. It’s open every day during the summer season and even during the winter season only closes on Sundays. There’s some (limited) parking, and it’s an easy amble from the museum to all the Agia Napa gaudy craziness or to the surprisingly pleasant marina.
Inside, the first floor houses the earliest exhibits, with some really quite sizeable examples of Cretaceous staples like ammonites and trilobites. The gift shop and open air cafeteria and amphitheatre are on this level too.
As you head downwards, you can’t miss the spectacular replica of a 400 BC ship, the Kyrenia II. A particularly funky feature is a glass floor that visitors can walk on, with a reconstruction of everything that could be seen on the sea bed from the ship wreck underneath. It’s immersive and creative, and a great way of conveying history to kids. There’s a wealth of other many-millennia old seafaring items on the ground floor too.
Hidden away on the lowest level, the endearingly named “semi-basement floor”, is the Tornaritis-Pierides Marine Life Museum. It’s jam-packed with preserved and stuffed specimens, from large sharks, seals and turtles all the way down to sponges and shells. My girls were swiftly reassured that all the taxidermy was from animals that died of natural causes.
They’ve reconstructed some long extinct beasts near the ship replica, too – pygmy elephants and hippos. I was staggered to discover that these animals roamed freely all over Cyprus at one point, and there is something rather moving about the assemblage of all the creatures that have called Cyprus and the sea around it home over millions of years.
This compact attraction is a welcome dose of fun facts and local culture in what’s primarily known as a clubber’s paradise. After elbowing and barging my way around Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum this week, the solitude of the Thalassa Museum was an especially happy memory.