Photograph of Kolossi Castle in Cyprus

"Cyprus is my island, when the going's rough." — David Bowie

Information at a Glance

  • Daytime (Lunchtime Learning) class
  • Thursdays 13:00 - 13:50
  • 50 minutes taught time per week
  • 10 weeks: January to March
  • Tutor: Michael Paraskos
  • Fees from £105
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington
  • Official course title: "Understanding Art"
Register interest in this course

With the darkest months of winter upon us in January, we invite you to join us on a virtual voyage around the sunny Mediterranean island of Cyprus - exploring its art, culture and history.

Our classroom voyage will take us from the earliest human occupation of the island, through the eras of the ancient Phoenecians and Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, French and Venetians, British and Ottoman Turks, and on until the present day. In all of this our focus will be on the art and archaeology of the island, with key information on places you might visit if you decide to travel to Cyprus.

Our guide in all of this will be Dr Michael Paraskos, who is the co-founder and co-organiser of the annual conference on medieval and early modern studies, called Othello's Island, which is held in the capital, Nicosia, every April.

Each week Michael will highlight an object or location and use it as the springboard to explore some of the other works of art, historic archaeology and buildings and history and culture of Cyprus.

Even if you do not plan to visit Cyprus, this short course will introduce you to an island that has a fascinating history.

Did you know:

  1. Cyprus was given to Cleopatra of Egypt by Mark Anthony as a wedding present?
  2. It was the history of Cyprus that prompted William Shakespeare to write one of his most powerful and still controversial plays?
  3. Cyprus is regarded as the place where medieval farmers first cultivated the cauliflower — hence its original name Cyprus colewort?

This island has a fascinating and often unexpected cultural history - come and find out how and why.

Course Information

Course Programme

  1. In the mists of time (or room 1 of the Cyprus Museum)
  2. Phoenicians, Greeks and Aphrodite at Kouklia
  3. Roman Cyprus - The Age of the Great Cities
  4. Byzantine Cyprus - Monasteries and Castles
  5. The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Origin of Cauliflowers
  6. Venetian Cyprus - Plunder and Ruin?
  7. Ottoman Cyprus
  8. Mad Dogs and Englishmen
  9. The Art of Independence

Additional Reading

There is no requirement to undertake specific reading for this course, but if you are interested in reading more on the subject you might enjoy:

  • Stass Paraskos, The Mythology of Cyprus (London: Orage Press, 2016)
  • Annie Brassey, Sunshine and Storm in the East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010; reprint of 1880 edition)

Your Tutor

Photograph of Michael Paraskos Dr Michael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to undergraduate students at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. His first novel In Search of Sixpence was published in 2016 and his second, called Rabbitman, was published in 2017.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed to the course tutor, Dr Michael Paraskos at

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.