Ayia Napa (Greek: Αγία Νάπα; Turkish: Aya Napa; today officially transliterated into English as Agia Napa) is a resort at the far eastern end of the south coast of the island of Cyprus, famous for its sandy beaches. In recent years, apart from being a family holiday destination, it has become a 'party capital' similar to Ibiza or Rimini.
The name Ayia Napa is derived from a Venetian-era monastery of the same name, located in the center of the town, next to the square which today is the clubbing center. The word "Ayia" (Agia) means "Saint" in Greek. The word 'Napa' is archaic and it means "wooded - valley". In ancient times the area surrounding the town was covered with thick forest.
According to local legend, the now renowned original icon was accidentally discovered by a hunter in hot pursuit of his prey. Upon discovery, the icon of Virgin Mary was called Virgin Mary of Napa, eventually shortened and now know as Ayia Napa. The present monastery, built in 1500, was built around the cave, in honour of the Virgin Mary of Ayia Napa. According to local tradition, until 1790 no-one lived within close vicinity of Ayia Napa. The first inhabitants who actually appeared and settled were twenty men from Salonica, Greece, and so began the village of Ayia Napa. Ayia Napa has recently become synonymous with holidays on the island, and has attracted tourism from all over Europe because of the climate, beaches and the specific character of the clubbing scene that has built up here.
Ayia Napa lies eastward of the Dhekelia SBA. Geographically, Ayia Napa lies near Cape Greco at the eastern part of Cyprus, just south of Famagusta and forms part of a larger area known as Kokkinochoria (a name derived from the red colour of its soil). It is a town of Famagusta District, in the remaining southern part of the district not occupied by Turkish forces in 1974. Ayia Napa is about 8 kilometres (5 miles) away from Protaras, a town that has recently seen similar development, but still manages to remain low-key and remains more favorable for families and Cypriot locals.