Cape Arnaoutis: The NW Tip of Cyprus

Little visited, quite hard to reach, and perhaps one of the most pristine pieces of the island, Cape Arnaoutis may have been the first part of Cyprus seen by ancient mariners of the eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, more than 12,000 years ago, the “Stone Age Sailors” who first arrived on Cyprus as non-permanent, possibly seasonal short-term residents and explorers, may well have sailed past the dark cliffs and wave-battered beaches of this fantastic north-western tip.

Here are some things we know about Cape Arnaoutis historically:

“Cape at the tip of the Akamas Peninsula and almost the westernmost point of Cyprus. Possible meaning (Greek): where the barbarians landed. However, the “akrides” (coast watchers), at least under the Venetians, were mercenaries from Albania and were called Arnauts. There may be a connection, for certainly this Cape was an important lookout point. These mercenaries were apparently also employed by the Turks (and not only in Cyprus, for Tolstoy mentions the word disdainfully in his book “War and Peace”. The meaning to Greeks is quite logically “Turkish raiders”, there being many during the pre-Turkish Period. For information on the more ancient “akrides” of Saracen-raid days, see Ayios Mamas Church and Petra tou Dhiyeni. In August 1977 the track from Tjioni (North of Lara) was being improved, and plans are that it be extended to and around Cape Arnauti. It is quite certain that the “non-Arnauti” alternative names pre-date the present name. The alternative San Pifano and the like refer to ancient Ayios Epiphanios Church.”

From “An Historical Toponomy of Cyprus”, by Jack Goodwin, 1978.


Note: The plans mentioned by Goodwin to extend the dirt track from Tjioni (on the upper western Akamas coastline) up to and around Cape Arnaoutis were never put into practice. Instead they widened a track that leads northwards across this part of the Akamas and connects with the bay called “Fontana Amoroza”. The area immediately northwest of Tjioni was used by the British army as base camp for their firing exercises until 1996/7, when the British authorities, under pressure from local environmental groups who wanted to create an Akamas National Park, decided to put a halt to such activities. We still await the creation of an actual “National Park” in the Akamas along with proper restrictions to protect this area, which has extremely high potential for future sustainable/ecological tourism, if managed properly.

Seen in profile, the geology of Cape Arnaoutis is quite simple: A large basal layer of Troodos volcanic material (the dark rocks) surmounted by a light-coloured surface layer of varying thickness composed of much younger limestone.