Nicosia (Turkish: Lefkosa, Greek: Lefkosia) is the capital of Cyprus. Nicosia is the center of administrative district, and currently the only divided capital in the world, with the northern Turkish and southern Greek portions divided by a “Green line”; a demilitarized zone maintained by the United Nations.
The name of the city dates back to approximately 2,250 years when it was known as Ledra or Ledrae. This name was changed soon to Lefkotheon but was also the name changed referred to as Ledron. Once again in the Byzantine era to Lefkon which means “popular grove”. The city served as a seat of the kings of Cyprus from 1192, it remained the capital of Cyprus since the 17th century, except for a brief period starting from 1489 when it was taken over by Venetians. Cyprus was taken over by Turks in 1571 and Nicosia became Capital again. The city went through major development during the Venetian’s rule as they built huge, thick ramparts around the city. Nicosia (Lefkosia) was fortified with imposing stone walls and massive gates. North the walls are three and half miles long and have eleven towers and three gates.
The famous Famagusta Gate still stands today, proudly protecting the still-ancient town within from the modern city outside. During the Ottoman era the city saw prosperity which is still visible by Gothic architecture of Selimiye Mosque, the Bedestan, the Arab Ahmat Mosque, and the Great Han Inn to name a few.
The modern divided capital is the result of the war in 1974, which resulted because of rebellion against the government of Cyprus. The present day capital of the island has a population of around 150,000 and it is divided into Turkish and Greek sectors by a boundary known as the `green line’ which runs in an east-west direction. The central Eleftheria Square links old Nicosia with the elegant modern city that has grown up outside the walls, where hotels, offices restaurants and gardens blend happily with the fine old houses and colonial buildings of this cosmopolitan city. There are many things to do in Nicosia The Cyprus museum is very popular with visitors. There is a priceless and fascinating collection of Cypriot antiquities and art treasures from the Neolithic Age to the early Byzantine Period. Come down and visit the Cyprus Handicraft Center workshops, where traditional arts are practiced today much the same way they were in ages past. Relax and enjoy a superb Cypriot meal, accented by one of the island’s famous wines. Later, the night life beckons near Famagusta Gate, giving face to the Cypriots’ legendary spirit of celebration.
Greek Kirínia, Turkish Girne city, is situated along the northern coast of Turkish Cyprus. It is a busy little town with a harbour appreciated for its natural beauty. Founded by the Achaeans, ancient Greek colonists, and fortified by the Byzantines, Franks, and Venetians, the city was the administrative headquarters of the Kyrenia district of the Republic of Cyprus until the war in 1974. In its heyday it was lined with warehouses, stored with fruits of the countryside whilst they awaited export. The buildings are now mostly all restaurants, all of which have tables and chairs lining the water. The castle at the east end of the harbour is a very spectacular site and within its walls, there is a 12 century chapel showing reused late Roman capitals.Just 10 minutes above Kyrenia is Bellapais Abbey. Set in this fabulous location, a visit to this 14th century Lusignan abbey is a must.
Turtle beach is situated on the new coast road East of Kyrenia driving towards Esentepe. The beach is protected during the summer months between the hours of 9pm and 5am. This is because rare Turtles come to lay their eggs on the beach area under the watchful eye of conservationists. The beach by day is excellent and used a lot by the locals. At this location is a small building called the ‘Turtle Project.” You can go there to learn about Turtles, see videos and book in to sleep on the beach at night and watch the Turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs. They lay their eggs around June and August is the hatching time.
You have an excellent opportunity to find pleasant places for walking in Northern Cyprus. The Besparmak Mountains are ideal walking areas. You can go to St. Hilarion Castle and park your car there. Head west to take in the amazing views of Kyrenia.
Enclosed to the north by the sea and to the south by the greenery of the Besparmak (Five finger) Mountain range, it offers the most magnificent scenery on the island. It’s charming and tiny harbour, full of yachts and fishing boats, is framed by the colossal hulk of its Crusader castle. With the backdrop of the jagged mountains behind and the calm sparkling sea in front, the harbour has an intoxicatingly serene atmosphere.
Greek Ammochostos, Turkish Gazi Magusa is a major port in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It lies on the island’s east coast in a bay between Capes Greco and Eloea and is about 55 km east of Nicosia. The port possesses the deepest harbour in Cyprus.
Famagusta is a Frankish corruption of its Greek name, which means «buried in the sand», descriptive of the silted mouth of the Pedieos.
Famagusta city lies south of the ancient city of Salamis (now Salamis ruins) and just north of the ancient ghost town of Varosha (Maras). Today Varosha is no more than an empty ghost town. It lies in a UN zone between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Famagusta is one of the finest examples of mediaeval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean. The oldest traces of settlements lie in an area near the modern town of Famagusta, then named “Enkomi”, going back to 13th Century B.C., the Bronze Age. At the start of the Iron Age the town was built near the sea and was known by the name “Salamis”. The name “Ammochostos” is first recorded during the Byzantine period. In 1571 Famagusta was conquered by the Ottoman’s.
Some historians declare that Famagusta was founded by King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt in 285 B.C. By the year 300 A.D. the town was one of the principal markets of the Eastern Mediterranean, the rendezvous of rich merchants and the headquarters of many Christian religious orders as revealed by numerous churches of various denominations. These are still to be seen in the town today.
This was the time of the Crusades and when the rich Lusignan family ruled Cyprus. Therefore, the period I 200 to I 489 in Cyprus history is called the Lusignan dynasty. Famagusta was protected by ramparts which encircle the town and the citadel castle guarding the harbour, the best in Cyprus. This citadel or Othello’s tower is the first main focus of attention for visitors.
The period I 300 to I 400 is known as the golden age of Famagusta and was regarded as such by visiting merchants who brought back tales of fabulous wealth. After I 400, rival groups of Genoese and Venetian merchants settled there. The Genoese caused much conflict until finally the Venetians took command of all Cyprus. In 1489 they transferred the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta. The Venetians were in command for 82 years and it was from Famagusta that the whole island was governed.
The invention of gun-powder and the use of cannons called for the Venetians to remodel the entire defense for the use of artillery, the new type of warfare. The medieval square towers were replaced with round ones and cannon portholes were inserted all along the walls.
The Turkish armada arrived outside the town in 1570 and put it under siege for a year. In 1571 not only Famagusta, but all of Cyprus was under Turkish rule and remained so until 1878. The end of colonial rule in 1960 led to the intensification of intercommunal contention between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which concluded in 1974 with Turkish Cypriot rule in North Cyprus.
The new town of Famagusta (also known as Maras or Varosha) lies just to the south of the walled old-city of Famagusta.
As a seaport, Famagusta is a center for the export of citrus fruits and other agricultural products and livestock; other major economic activities include cotton spinning, the distillation of brandy, and fishing.
Guzelyurt (Greek: Morphou, Turkish: Omorfo – before 1974) is a market town in the north-west of Cyprus. Guzelyurt was founded by Spartans who brought with them the worship of Aphrodite. In the Middle Ages, the city was referred to as Morphou and also Theomorphou. The Guzelyurt area grew more than half of Cyprus citrus fruits.
Guzelyurt, which means `beautiful country’ in Turkish, is aptly named. Guzelyurt is a market town located in the west of North Cyprus. One of its attractive features is that it is the home of one of the many churches in the country dedicated to St. Mamas, popularly known as the patron saint of tax avoiders.
The name was bestowed on him because he was a hermit living in very poor circumstances and when the authorities tried to tax him, he avoided them. Soldiers were sent out and captured him but on the way back to town, he saw a lion attacking a lamb, escaped the soldiers, saved the lamb, jumped on the lion’s back and in that way came to town. His bravery earned him exemption from tax, hence his name – the patron saint of tax avoiders.
The town of Güzelyurt is regional capital of the Güzelyurt district and is known as the fruit-bowl of Northern Cyprus. It is one of the richest agricultural areas in Cyprus, famous particularly for the Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit) and strawberries from the area which thrive in its fertile red soil. A large proportion of the citrus fruits are exported, and the remaining are made into fruit juice and canned for export and local consumption. The town, located in the west, is surrounded by extensive citrus groves, which makes this area the greenest on the island. The reason for this is the abundance of water running down from the Troodos Mountains, which lie, to the south.
Guzelyurt is not a typical tourist destination, but is interesting to those who want see parts of Northern Cyprus not in the least affected by tourism. You can enjoy your holiday in the peace and quiet of its natural surroundings. Güzelyurt houses a history and archaeology museum.
The museum houses a collection ranging from the prehistoric age of Cyprus to the Byzantine period Primitive tools uncovered from different prehistoric settlements around Cyprus, and samples of pottery from the Bronze Age are exhibited at the museum. Furthermore there is a covered market and some rather beautiful Orthodox churches. Also within the Güzelyurt district is the picturesque town of Lefke (the site of Cyprus’ now defunct copper mines), the Roman ruins at Soli, and the hilltop palace of Vouni.
The region of Iskele is situated in the north east part of the island. It is one of the most beautiful parts of Northern Cyprus. There are not big towns here, and the nature has remained unspoilt. The most popular destination of Iskele region is the Karpas peninsula. In spite of the fact that it is a remote place, Karpas attracts a lot of people by its enormous “Golden Beach”.
Dipkarpaz (Greek: Rizokarpaso) is a town on the Karpas Peninsula in Famagusta district, north-eastern Cyprus. It is partly located in the ancient city of Karpasia, founded by king Pygmalion. Dipkarpaz is the biggest town on the peninsula. Soil near the town is very fertile. Local crops include carob, cotton, tobacco, and grain. A tobacco-factory operates in the town. In 1974, the peninsula was cut off by Turkish troops, and this prevented the town’s Greek-Cypriot inhabitants from fleeing to the unoccupied South. As a result, Dipkarpaz is the home of the biggest Greek-speaking population in the North.
The town has two churches: St. Synesios and the church of the Holy Trinity. They are examples of the typical Cypriot mixed style, combining features of the late Gothic introduced by the Lusignans with the late Byzantine style of the Orthodox tradition. When the island’s Orthodox bishops were banished by the Lusignans in 1222, the Bishop of Famagusta was sent to Dipkarpaz and continued his work in St. Synesios, the main Orthodox Church in the region.