Scotland may have the Loch Ness Monster, Norway has the Kraken, the Himalayas its Yeti and America has Bigfoot, but did you know that Cyprus also has its own resident behemoth, the Ayia Napa Sea Monster? The beast is thought to lurk in the waters around Cape Greko with sightings of the mythical monster stretching back to Roman times. Tempted to join in the hunt on your Ayia Napa holidays? Here’s all you need to know about the myth of the sea monster of Cyprus…
The search for the ‘friendly monster’ of Cyprus
Local fishermen call it ‘To Filiko Teras’ – ‘the friendly monster’ – since it has never been claimed that the beast has ever harmed anyone, beyond the destruction of a few fishermen’s nets. No doubt this yarn might have also been a convenient excuse given by many a hapless fishermen returning empty-handed after a few too many flagons of ouzo at lunchtime!
Still, if reports can be believed it certainly sounds like a fearsome sight, comprised of the torso of a woman and a dozen serpent limbs, with six snarling dog-heads protruding from its midriff. This is how it’s usually pictured on ancient vases, although Gaius JuliusHyginus, the prolific Latin scholar and biographer of the poet Virgil, even claimed that it simply ‘had too many limbs to paint.’
Although stories of the creature have their roots in local legend and folklore, the authorities have taken it seriously enough to launch an official search in recent years, after locals reported sightings of what some thought might be a crocodile dumped in the waters around the Kouris Dam in 2008. The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs told local newspaper the Famagusta Gazette that while they had followed up these reports their investigations into the sea monster had ultimately been fruitless.
The Scylla myth
Some commentators and crypto-zoologists believe that the monster actually owes it origins to another, more famous mythical leviathan, the Scylla. The Scylla, which was depicted in various murals in the House of Dionysus (a Roman villa on the Cypriot island of Paphos) is perhaps best known for its role in Homer’s Odyssey, where it’s credited with killing the six man crew of a ship.
Sadly there is very little photographic evidence of the Ayia Napa Sea Monster, the few films and pictures that exist are short and unverified. Unsurprisingly many local hotels organise boat trips in search of the beast, so who knows what you may find on your next Ayia Napa holidays!