Paralimni (Παραλίμνι) is a town situated in the South East of Cyprus, a little way inland, within the Famagusta District. Since the Turkish invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, it has increased in size and status, due to the migration of many refugees fleeing from the North. Many of the people who work in the tourist industry of Protaras and Agia Napa live in Paralimni, which is the now temporary administrative centre of the Famagusta District and the biggest municipality of the Greek Cypriot controlled area of the district. It has become what it seems a small capital city of the non-occupied Famagusta area.
In the beginning of the 20th century, as a result of reclamation work, the whole of the lakebed was reclaimed for agricultural purposes. Paralimni has not always been where it is now. Originally it was built on a hill, which was situated between Dherinia and its present location.
However, in the 15th century, it was moved inland to avoid detection by the sea pirates. It is said that the first people to settle at Paralimni arrived just after the capture of the near town of Famagusta by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. The first settlement was called Saint Demetrius and this place still bears his name today.
In 1986, after a referendum, Paralimni was declared a municipality with the name "Paralimni". In May 1986 the first elections were held for the office of mayor and municipal council. Nikos Vlittis was elected the first mayor and served from 1986-2006. In December of 2006, Nikos Vlittis lost the mayoralty to Andreas Evaggelou who will serve as a mayor until 2011.
Architecturally, Paralimni has been nondescript, little if anything remains of the original village. Outside of the town centre the houses are not very attractive, little more than squat rectangular blocks. This is more than compensated for by their very attractive gardens, especially when the trees are in blossom or fruit. However, it seems that the new and emerging generations who earn higher salaries than their parents and grandparents, spend larger amounts of money in building modern and picturesque houses.
Right at the heart of Paralimni, lies a moderate yet fulfilling shopping centre with many shops and a small entertainment scene including modern cafes and bars. Due to the fact that Paralimni has rapidly grown in size, the island's biggest food retailers have built or rented branches there including Carrefour, Orfanides. There are also many local supermarkets such as Kokkinos.
The countryside surrounding Paralimni has rich red soil and is famous for its picturesque windmills - used to draw water from underground aquifers to irrigate the surrounding land. Sadly, many of these are now derelict having been replaced by electric or diesel-powered pumps. Before the rise of tourism, the rich agricultural land surrounding Paralimni was the source of Paralimni's wealth, and is still of great importance.
Protaras has lovely, sandy beaches with clear sky-blue waters and the most well known beach in the area is Fig Tree Bay. Protaras is also referred to as "the land of windmills" maintaining the nostalgic quality of the past.
On the back of the success of Ayia Napa (which is only a few km away), it has exploded into a resort of considerable size with tens of high capacity hotels, hotel apartments, villas, restaurants, pubs and all sorts of facilities a modern holiday resort ought to have. Being quieter than Ayia Napa and having less of a club scene, it has a reputation of catering more for family and Cypriot tourism.
Cape Greco is a 10 minute drive from the centre of Protaras, and is considered one of the most beautiful places on the island.
In Cape Greco lives the reputed Ayia Napa Sea Monster which is meant to resemble a cross between a porpoise and dragon. It has only been spotted and photographed a dozen or so times and is thought to be a direct descendent from pre-historic times.