A Travellerspoint blog

Northern Cyprus.

Our Home For Three Years.

Northern Cyprus - Flower Pots. - Cyprus

Northern Cyprus - Flower Pots. - Cyprus

This is not going to be a page with up to date information about Cyprus, rather it is for me to consolidate my memories of a wonderful part of the world where I was fortunate enough to live for three years. I have not travelled all over Cyprus. From 1991 to 1994 I lived and worked in Girne also known as Kyrenia in the northern or Turkish side of Cyprus. At that time it was not possible to travel between the north and south of the islands. Now I believe it is possible to cross to the north from the south.The only bit of Cyprus I have been to that did not belong to the northern side was when I went to the British Army Base at Dhekelia.

I remember very clearly the first time I went to Cyprus. We flew from Istanbul where we were living at the time to Ercan Airport. My husband and I were travelling to Cyprus for a job interview to work in one of the many universities there. Our plane landed quite late at night and we caught a taxi to Girne. There were two routes to Girne and on this occasion our driver choose to drive up over Bes Parmak - Five Finger Mountain into Girne. There was a full moon. The mountain was beautifully illuminated by the moonlight and our first views of Girne were dramatic and lovely. We checked into the Hotel Socrates for a few nights. The warm summer air was heavy and sweet with the smell of jasmine. We were both captivated by Cyprus immediately and delighted when we got a job there.

Flowers and Remains Sum Up Cyprus For Me - Cyprus

Flowers and Remains Sum Up Cyprus For Me - Cyprus

For many people life on Northern Cyprus was boring. At that time there was not a single cinema, tourism was not really very developed due to the political situation, everywhere was a bit sleepy. For us this was heaven. We were able to do all the things we loved to do such as: 1/ swim - Cyprus has some wonderful beaches. In fact when I arrived I could not swim. I learned to swim in the warm, shallow waters at Turtle Beach. 2/ Hike - Cyprus has wonderful mountain walks with dramatic scenery, historical remains and beautiful wild flowers. I still vividly remember following a winding path up a hillside scattered copiously with wild cyclamens - stunning. The only thing to be wary of was never go hiking on the first day of the hunting season when any idiot with a gun seemed to shoot everything that moved. I am not joking; we had bullets whistling across just above our heads so close they made our hair move terrifying. First day of the hunting season every year many hunters shot themselves and each other. We only ventured out during it once - never again. 3/ History - I love old things. I am not a history expert by any means, but I am interested in the past. I developed a love of Ancient Greek remains when I visited Herculaneum as a fourteen year old on a school trip to Italy. I've never lost my fascination with them. History is everywhere on Cyprus. Developers would get annoyed because wherever they dug they struck a burial site or ancient city and the development would be held up. I once found several very old pottery fragments while out walking. I was so excited I told my friends about it at dinner in their home that evening. "We've found some too," they said and proceeded to show me several completely intact ancient vases and urns they had picked up. Apparently it was not illegal to have them though it would be illegal if they tried to take them off the island. 4/ Eating and drinking - summer nights in Cyprus are long and warm. There's not a huge amount to do, so go for a meal. People had a very relaxed approach to their evening meals. We would sit in a restaurant for hours with friends, chatting and taking time over each course. Many restaurants had wonderful gardens where you could sit in the warm night air surrounded by plants and flowers eating wonderful food and sipping your beer or wine. And I really do mean wonderful food. Some of the restaurants were of an incredibly high standard and at that time not overly expensive either.

A Real Don't Drink and Drive Warning. - Cyprus

A Real Don't Drink and Drive Warning. - Cyprus

Our flat in Cyprus was probably the most wonderful place we ever lived. It was provided by our job. It had a huge living-room, huge kitchen, three bedrooms and two balconies. Our neighbours were great. Everyone was always outside and everyone knew everybody else's business. My husband caused quite a stir once by being seen hanging out our washing. That's women's work and next day everyone stopped me to ask if I had been ill and that's why he had had to do it. Once a female friend called round when I was out and I had already been told by about thirty people that my husband was having an affair the minute I stepped foot on our street. He really wasn't - honest. Once our block of flats went on fire and the neighbours formed a human chain with buckets to put it out. I did not notice till it was nearly out. To me the commotion was just so much a part of every day life there, I did not even realise something dramatic was going on.

On summer nights people moved their chairs out into the street to try and cool down. From there they would sit and watch TV in their front rooms. As you walked along the streets you would get between them and their TVs and you would feel that you were walking through a hundred front rooms past a hundred people's lives.

The day we left Cyprus was devastating for me. We had a new boss at work and he was so incompetent and confrontational that I started to get ill working for him. I told the old lady in the shop across from my home that we were leaving and when we boarded our taxi at 3am she came out and poured lemon cologne on us and wished us a safe journey. I cried all the way to the airport. I loved Cyprus, its history, its nature and its wonderful people. I think it is easily the best place I have ever lived. Having got to the end of my write-up and having looked on the internet for historical facts etc, I can not help wondering if the Cyprus I am writing about still exists. When we lived there it was undeveloped, not too touristy. Now I really don't know if it is still the same. I almost feel afraid to ever go back in case it has changed beyond recognition. I really hope it hasn't. It had such friendliness, warmth and beauty.

Sightseeing in Cyprus.

Crusader Castles - St Hilarion.

Cyprus is home to three marvellous hilltop castles. The easiest one to get to is St Hilarion. It is located between Girne and Lefkosa. Generally one of our friends would take us here by car, but you could come by taxi and arrange for them to either wait for you or pick you up at a certain time. St Hilarion is said to have inspired Neuschwanstein Castle and Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. I don't know if that is true, but it is in the same sort of style as both of these. St Hilarion Castle was first built as a monastery in memory of St Hilarion, a fourth century Syrian hermit who lived in a cave. He is believed to have been able to banish demons and perform miracles. Later in the eighth century the Byzantines converted this monastery into a castle due to its strategic location. They sheltered here during Arab raids. In 1228 John d’Ibelin, one of the Lusignan nobles, extended the castle. He is responsible for most of the buildings still standing today. Under the Lusignans, St Hilarion became home to royalty and was nicknamed “Dieu d’Amour” The Castle of the god of love. Among others King Peter I and Queen Eleanor of Aragon resided here. St Hilarion was at its peak at this time. In 1489 when the Venetians took control of Cyprus, St Hilarion went into decline and fell into ruins. One of the famous sights in the castle is the queen's window where Eleanor of Aragon used to sit and gaze out at the view. Another is Prince John’s Tower. There is a legend associated with this tower. On January 17th, 1369 Peter I, King of Cyprus, was stabbed to death as he slept in his palace in Nicosia. He was succeeded by his son, Peter II. His widow, Queen Eleanor, was certain that her husband had been killed on the orders of his own brother, Prince John. She decided to avenge his murder. John was living in St Hilarion Castle, guarded by a force of Bulgarian mercenaries. She managed to persuade him that his Bulgarian bodyguards were planning to overthrow him. Enraged, John had several of them thrown to their deaths from the top of Prince John’s Tower. Later Eleanor invited John to Nicosia to dine with her and her young son, the new king. They ate in the room where her husband had been murdered and when the final dish was served, Eleanor pulled off the cover to reveal her dead husband’s bloodstained shirt. This was a signal for her servants to rush out and stab John to death.

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - the queen's window. - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - the queen's window. - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

St Hilarion Castle - Cyprus

Crusader Castles - Buffavento Castle.

We visited Buffavento several times. We were generally taken here by friends in their cars. As well as being a spectacular hilltop castle, this castle was also the site of a dreadful air crash in 1988. A Yugoslav Boeing 727 crashed into the hillside here killing all 15 people on board when its pilot made a misjudged landing attempt at Ercan Airport. There is a monument to those that lost their lives in the crash at the site Buffavento Castle is located on a hilltop 950 metres above sea level. Its name means buffeted by the winds. Buffavento Castle was probably originally built as a Byzanine watchtower to guard against attacks by Arab raiders. Under the Lusignans, Buffavento Castle was used as a prison. At that time it was known as known as the Chateau du Lion - the lion's castle. During the Venetian occupation of Cyprus, Buffavento Castle, like St Hilarion Castle was abandoned and fell into ruins. The Venetians preferred to use coastal defences rather than mountaintop castles. The year after we left Cyprus, 1995, Buffavento was caught up in the midst of dreadful forest fires which caused huge amounts of damage on Cyprus. There are beautiful views from Buffavento. My most memorable visit here was coming here in the snow. It occasionally snows in the mountains of Cyprus, but never on the coastal areas. When it snows, people drive into the mountains, collect snow, build snowmen, place them on the bonnets of their cars and drive them down to Girne or other low lying towns or villages.

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Buffavento Castle. - Cyprus

Monument to those killed in air crash. - Cyprus

Monument to those killed in air crash. - Cyprus

Crusader Castles - Kantara Castle.

Kantara is the most remote and least accessible of Cyprus's three hilltop castles. We only went here once. My lasting memory of it is of me running down a slope towards a dark room near the castle wall. Something luckily made me stop myself just in time, because the room had no floor, just a sheer drop into stagnant water. I suffered nightmares for a while after this experience! Kantara Castle was built originally by the Byzantines. In 1191 Byzantine king Isaac Comnenus sought refuge here when Richard the Lionheart invaded Cyprus. In 1373 Prince John, the brother of King Peter I of Cyprus, is supposed to have taken refuge here when the Genoese invaded Cyprus. Later, James I of Cyprus, brother of both Peter and John, strengthened the castle. He is responsible for the parts that remain today. At the top of Kantara there is a beacon tower which could send warnings west to Buffavento, which in turn sent warnings further west to St Hilarion.

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Kantara Castle - Cyprus

Karmi.

Karmi is a little hillside village. Its population was at one time mainly Greek. When Cyprus was divided, there was an exchange of populations. Most Turkish Cypriots were not interested in living in Karmi, as it was remote and many of the houses had been damaged in the fighting. The government of Northern Cyprus encouraged foreigners to live there by charging low rents if the foreigners were willing to renovate and repair the houses. Most of the residents of Karmi nowadays are British or German. For us Karmi was a place we often hiked to at the weekend. As well as having nicely restored houses with colourful gardens, it also had a restaurant called Duckworth House. We would walk to Karmi carrying our swimming stuff with us, reserve a table for lunch at Duckworth House and swim in their pool until our meal was ready. The pool was wonderful, the restaurant's setting was wonderful and the food was wonderful. I looked online and nowadays it would seem Duckworth House is no longer a restaurant. It is now a holiday villa available for rent. When we used to go there it was a restaurant and family home.

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi

Karmi.

Karmi.

Soli.

We visited the archaeological remains at Soli a few times. They are located about 2KM west of Lefke. There is an Ancient Greek theatre here, but the most famous remains are Soli's beautiful mosaic floors. Soli was founded by the Greek Philosopher Solon who lived from 640 to 558BC. Soli is also believed to be the place where John Mark, an apostle of Barnabas, was baptised. John Mark accompanied Paul on his first journey around Cyprus. Soli dates from the sixth century BC. The land around this area was perfect for a settlement as it is very fertile, has a good water supply and a natural harbour for trading purposes. Soli was a very pro Greek city and was in constant conflict with the nearby palace of Vouni which belonged to the Persian overlords of Cyprus. In the 7th century AD Soli was destroyed in Arab raids. Soli's basilica dates from the fifth century AD. The basilica was dedicated to St. Auxibius. He was a Roman soldier in the first century AD. He converted to Christianity and was baptised by John Mark. Later he was ordained by Paul and became the first Bishop of Soli. The floor of the basilica has been partially excavated and some wonderful mosaics have been found. These mosaics were originally uncovered during the Swedish excavation which took place between 1927 and 1931. When we lived in Cyprus, these mosaics were open to the elements and you could walk on the basilica floor. Now they are apparently covered to preserve them and you walk on raised walkways above the floor so as not to damage it. We had two archaeologist friends who, whenever they visited Soli, used to kick dust and soil over the mosaics in an attempt to preserve them. Of course this probably just lead to other visitors kicking it off again in order to see them. Soli's theatre is built into the hillside with seating for approximately 3,500 people. The theatre has a semicircular orchestra and the open sea as a backdrop. The theatre was rebuilt in 1962. Long after we had left Cyprus in 2005 the "Golden Treasure of Soli” was found. This treasure included a fabulous hoard of bracelets, rings, necklaces and a gold wreath. They were found by the water department in a drain behind Soli's theatre. The treasure dates from the 5th to 4th century BC and is displayed in Guzelyurt Museum of Archaeology and Natural History.

The Soli Duck - Cyprus

The Soli Duck - Cyprus

The Soli Swan - Cyprus

The Soli Swan - Cyprus

With friends in Soli Theatre - Cyprus

With friends in Soli Theatre - Cyprus

Soli Swan - Cyprus

Soli Swan - Cyprus

Duck and Dolphins - Cyprus

Duck and Dolphins - Cyprus

Vouni Palace.

Not that far from Soli lies another archaeological site, Vouni Palace. I have seen it spelt as Vuni as well. When we lived in Cyprus, most of Vouni had not been excavated. I think this is still the case. There were lovely views from this area across the nearby mountains and over the sea. The remains of the palace at Vouni date from around 400BC. The palace was built by Doxandros, king of the city of Marion. He was pro-Persian and wanted a base from which to keep pro-Greek cities such as Soli under control. Vouni Palace had 137 rooms. In 449 B.C. the Persians were driven out of Cyprus and the Greeks took control of the island. Vouni Palace lost its function. Vouni Palace was burnt down by the people of Soli in 380 B.C. It was never rebuilt. To the south of Vouni Palace lie the remains of the Temple of Athena built towards the end of the 5th century B.C. During the Swedish excavations of Cyprus in the 1920s an amphora blackened by fire and filled with gold ducats, was found under one of the stairwells leading to the first floor of the palace. This is known as the treasure of Vouni.

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

Vouni Palace - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas, Famagusta.

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas are located near Salamis. We visited a couple of times when we lived in Cyprus. Nowadays the church is an icon museum and the monastery houses an archaeological collection. St Barnabas was a founder of the independent Greek Orthodox Church. He is also the patron saint of Cyprus. Barnabas was born in Salamis into a family who followed the Jewish Faith. When he was older, he went to Jerusalem to study religion. While he was there, he encountered Jesus and was so impressed by the miracles he saw Jesus perform that he converted to Christianity. Barnabas was made Archbishop of Salamis while he was still living in Jerusalem. In 45AD he travelled back to Cyprus with his cousin John Mark and Paul of Tarsus, later to become Saint Paul. Barnabas, John Mark and Paul wanted to convert Cyprus's Jewish community to Christianity. Barnabas managed to convert Sergius Paulus, the Roman Governor of Cyprus, to Christianity and Cyprus became the first country in the world to have a Christian leader. In 75AD Barnabas returned again to Cyprus. He was arrested for preaching and was imprisoned in the synagogue in Salamis. While he was imprisoned, a furious mob stormed the prison and stoned him to death. His cousin John Mark took his remains and buried them secretly in a tomb to the west of Salamis. John Mark placed a copy of The Gospel of St Matthew on Barnabas's chest. The secret grave was forgotten about. Then in the 5th century AD when the Christian Church was once more established on Cyprus, Bishop Anthemios had a dream in which the location of Barnabas's Tomb was revealed to him. When he woke up, he went to the location and found the tomb. He took the Gospel of St Matthew from Barnabas's chest and presented it to the Byzantine Emperor, Zeno. Zeno was very pleased with this gift and granted independence to the church in Cyprus. Emperor Zeno also funded the building of a church on the site of the tomb. This church was badly damaged during the Arab raids of the 7th century. Nowadays only the church's foundations remain. The church on the site now dates from the 1750's. At one time there were many monks in the Monastery of Saint Barnabas, but by the 1950s only three remained: Charitan, Stephanos and Barnabas. These three looked after the church from 1917. They built the church a bell tower in 1958. They also painted most of the church's icons and frescoes. In 1976, two years after the partition of the island, these three remaining monks moved to the south of the island as they were too old and sick to keep caring for the site. About 100 yards from the monastery there is a small mausoleum on the site where Barnabas's remains were found. The church, monastery and tomb were restored in 1991.

The Tomb of  Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Tomb of Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of  Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of  Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of  Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of  Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

The Monastery, Church and Tomb of Saint Barnabas - Cyprus

Hazreti Ömer Türbesi

Cyprus has been home to many nationalities, cultures and religions. The Tomb of Hazreti Ömer is a Muslim religious site. We visited here a couple of times when we lived on Cyprus. Some friends of ours who came to stay with us liked to go fishing there. On one occasion they witnessed a sheep, about to be sacrificed to God during the Muslim Kurban Bayram Festival, escape and throw itself into the sea here. It was recaptured and killed despite a valiant effort on its part to remain alive. This site is also mentioned in Lawrence Durrell's 'Bitter Lemons'. Hazreti Ömer Tekke is believed to be the final resting place of Commander Ömer and five soldiers from the Muawiya army who died during the Arab conquest of Cyprus in the seventh century. Their bodies were found in a nearby cave and were later buried here. A mosque and shrine were built at the site later. The six dead men are considered to be Muslim saints.

Hazreti Ömer Türbesi - Cyprus

Hazreti Ömer Türbesi - Cyprus

Lefkosa or Nicosia.

Lefkosa is the capital of North Cyprus. It is also the capital of South Cyprus and the Greeks call it Nicosia. It is a divided city with the green line partitioning north and south Cyprus going right down the middle of it. If I am being honest, Lefkosa was probably my least favourite part of Cyprus. It was hot, dusty and not on the coast. The one thing I did enjoy was going up to the top floor of the Saray Hotel; at eight stories high it was the tallest building there. It had an outdoor rooftop bar/restaurant and from there you could gaze across the green line at the, so close and yet so far, south side of the city. The south side was much more developed than the north and was filled with tall buildings. Near the Saray Hotel in the centre of a roundabout stands the Venetian Column. This was really one of the columns of Salamis, but in 1489 the Venetians moved it to Nicosia. On top of the column there used to be the lion of St Mark, and at the bottom were the coats of arms of several Venetian noble families. In 1570 when the Ottomans took control of Cyprus, they toppled the column. In 1915 the column was re-erected by the British. The lion of St Mark was lost and the British replaced it with a bronze orb. Lefkosa had several former Gothic churches that were converted into mosques in the Ottoman period. They still looked so much like churches I must admit I just found them rather odd. The Selimiye mosque is one of these church/mosques. It was originally built as the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Sofia by French masons during the crusades. Construction of this church began in 1209 during the reign of the Lusignan king, Henry I, and continued for 150 years. The church was consecrated in 1326. This church was used for the coronation of Lusignan princes when they were crowned kings of Cyprus. When the Ottomans took control of Cyprus in 1570, they changed the church into a mosque and added a pair of fifty metre high minarets. In 1954 the Saint Sophia Church Mosque was renamed the Selimiye Mosque. The Buyuk Han or Great Inn is located in the centre of Lefkosa's old town. It was built during the Ottoman Period to provide accommodation for travellers from Anatolia in Turkey and from other parts of Cyprus. The Buyuk Han is two stories high and has 68 rooms which open onto its central courtyard and 10 shops which open to the exterior of the han. When the British were in control of Cyprus, they used the Buyuk Han as Nicosia Central Prison. Nicosia was originally a walled city. Stretches of wall still survive around the old town of Lefkosa. At one time there were three gates through the city walls. The Famagusta gate was in the east, the Paphos gate in the west, the Kyrenia gate in the north. The Kyrenia Gate was built by the Venetians in around 1562. On the walls of the gate you can see inscriptions from Venetian, Ottoman and British times. The Kyrenia Gate was restored in 1994. Nowadays it houses the main Tourist Information office of Lefkosa. From looking Lefkosa up on line it seems a lot of restoration has taken place since the time I lived there, so it may be a lot more interesting to visit nowadays. I only seem to have four photos of it, all taken from the roof of the Saray Hotel, a sure sign I was not over fond of it.

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Lefkosa - Cyprus

Famagusta.

We liked Famagusta for a number of reasons. It had a great cake shop. It had a lovely hotel called the Palm Beach Hotel which did special cheap out of season weekend packages that we loved to take advantage of. It had a beach. It had historical remains. Famagusta was also rather odd because it was on the dividing line between north and south Cyprus, meaning parts of it existed in a weird no-man's land. The area on no-man's land was called Varosha. Before the partition Varosha, was being developed as a tourist resort with lots of high rise hotels shooting up everywhere. Now if you stay at the Palm Beach Hotel and walk along the beach, you will come to a fence which you cannot pass. Beyond the fence you can see a long stretch of beach and several derelict hotel buildings. Once we decided to follow the fence to see parts of Varosha back from the sea. Suddenly we could hear singing and it was coming from the ghost town. We were actually seized with fear thinking we were having a supernatural experience. We were not. The fence does not go completely straight. It dipped behind the line and a school was reclaimed for the Turkish side. The singing we could hear was coming from the children in that school. What an odd place to be educated with barbed wire and derelict buildings surrounding you on three sides!!!

Some historians believe that Famagusta was founded by King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt in 285 B.C. It increased in size after the destruction of the nearby City of Salamis, due to earthquakes and raids. This destruction led to the surviving population of Salamis resettling in Famagusta. The Lusignans fortified Famagusta in the thirteenth century and built many wonderful churches including the beautiful Cathedral of St. Nicholas. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas is the largest medieval building in Famagusta. Construction of this church began in 1300 and was completed by about 1400. Above the main central door of the church there is a beautiful rose window. At one time the Kings of Cyprus came here to be crowned Kings of Jerusalem. In 1571 when the Ottomans captured Famagusta the cathedral was converted into a Mosque and a minaret was added. The building's name nowadays is the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Famagusta was a walled city and many of the original city walls survive today. These walls were 60 feet high and 30 feet thick and date back to mediaeval times. They were built originally by the Lusignans and later fortified by the Venetians. Two of the original gates of the city are still standing The Sea Gate and The Land Gate. It is pleasant to take a walk along the city walls of Famagusta.

There are many other sights worth visiting in Famagusta: one of these sights is Othello's Tower. Othello's tower was part of the medieval fortress which guarded the harbour and city of Famagusta. Above the gateway of the tower is a marble slab with a winged lion on it this was the symbol of the Venetians. The tower is round as the Venetians did not want it to be vulnerable to gun fire and there were no corners to destroy. Inside the fortress there are several old cannons and discarded cannon balls. The Sea Gate is one of the two remaining original gates of Famagusta's walled city. It was built by Nicola Prioli, the Venetian Captain of Famagusta, in 1496. Inside this gate there is a marble lion. The Church of St Peter and Paul was built in 1359. In 1571 it was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks and was renamed Sinan Pasha Mosque. During the British Period it was used as a grain store earning it the nickname 'Wheat Mosque'. In 1964 this building became Famagusta's Town Hall. Nowadays it is a public library. Between 1300 and 1400, The Golden Age of Famagusta, the harbour used to be protected by a massive chain that stretched from the now ruined chain tower and which could be lowered during attacks. After a long day's sightseeing in Famagusta, it is pleasant to go for a swim at Famagusta's Beach.

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta -The Sea Gate. - Cyprus

Famagusta -The Sea Gate. - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque/St Nicholas Cathedral - Cyprus

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque/St Nicholas Cathedral - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Palm Beach Hotel - Cyprus

Girne Or Kyrenia.

Places in Northern Cyprus have Turkish names and Greek names. We lived in Girne, that's its Turkish name. Greeks call it Kyrenia. We were so lucky because Girne is one of the most beautiful places on the whole island. It has a wonderful castle, a very beautiful restaurant lined harbour, an icon museum inside a lovely old, whitewashed Greek church, narrow old town streets, shops, restaurants, bars, coastline, swimming pools. We used to go swimming from a little seaweed covered beach behind the castle. The seaweed there was odd and looked like sawdust. When it mixed with the sea, it made the sea look dirty and this put many people off swimming there. We quickly learned that you just waded through that briefly and you were into clean, clear water that was perfect for swimming and as you swam you could gaze up at the towering walls of Kyrenia Castle. Kyrenia Castle is believed to have been built by the Byzantines in the 8th century AD to protect Kyrenia from Arab raids. A significant part of the castle was built by King John Dibelin between 1208 and 1211. The Lusignans, a group of French nobles who once controlled much of the Mediterranean and battled in the crusades, occupied Kyrenia Castle. When the Genoese attacked Cyprus in 1373, Kyrenia Castle was damaged. When Cyprus was occupied by the Venetians from 1489 to 1570, the castle was strengthened against cannon attacks. In 1570 Kyrenia Castle was seized by the Ottomans. During British colonial rule, which lasted from 1878 until 1960, Kyrenia Castle was used as a police academy and prison. The castle houses the shipwreck museum. This museum contains one of the oldest trading ships ever found and her cargo. This ship sailed in the Mediterranean during the life time of Alexander the Great. It is believed she sank in a storm around 300 BC in open waters less than a mile from Kyrenia. The ship was raised by Michael Katzev of the University Museum of Pennsylvania and his team in the 1960s. The ship's cargo included more than 400 wine amphoras, mostly from the Island of Rhodes; 9000 perfectly preserved almonds in jars and 29 millstones believed to be from the Island of Kos. Other items raised included the crew's fishing equipment, the crew's plates, cups and spoons. There were believed to be four crew members on the ship's final voyage. The ship was more than eighty years old when she sank.

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Or Kyrenia

Girne Castle.

Girne Castle.

Girne Castle.

Girne Castle.

Girne Castle.

Girne Castle.

Girne's Harbour.

Next to the castle in Girne there is a beautiful horseshoe shaped harbour. It is lined with restaurants and bars. It makes a very pleasant place to spend an evening. For some unknown reason we often drank whisky sours here, something I would never normally drink. Girne Harbour is usually filled with a plethora of yachts and boats. At one time the harbour was lined with warehouses busily importing and exporting goods. Most of these old warehouses have now been converted into restaurants. As with all seafront areas, the harbour looks very different in different seasons and different weathers. It is very dramatic here in a storm. Girne also has a wonderful icon museum. This is situated in the former Greek Orthodox church of the Archangel Michael. This lovely old whitewashed church was built in 1860. Its bell tower was added in 1885. This church was converted into the icon museum in 1991 and displays many icons rescued from various parts of Northern Cyprus after the partitioning of Cyprus in 1974.

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Or Kyrenia Harbour Continued

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Girne Harbour.

Our Home.

We loved our flat in Girne. It was the best place we ever lived. It did, however, suffer from very frequent power cuts. During the day, no problem. We had light. We could open the doors for a cross breeze instead of running our fans. If it happened at night, we would go round the corner to the Chinese restaurant for a delicious meal. We were there so frequently the owners even invited us round their house for dinner. They were Turkish Cypriots. The cook was Chinese. We were across from a little shop the Nadir Bakkal. The people who ran it were so friendly if we went there to shop, we often came away with half of their dinner free. When we left, we sent them a postcard and when we returned on a surprise visit, we were dragged into their house and shown the postcard in pride of place on their mantlepiece. Round the corner from our house was the dusty shop. We often bought beer there. It was about the only item not covered in a thick layer of dust.

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Our Home

Bellapais.

One of our favourite places to go in Cyprus was Bellapais. We often got there in friends' cars. Sometimes we took a taxi, most commonly we walked. Once we even acquired an incredibly friendly dog on our walk. He followed us all the way up the hill and waited for us when we visited the abbey. We were so worried that he would get lost that we took him all the way back to his house and his owner told us he was always going off for walks with anyone who passed the house, but he most certainly knew his way back. I remember a rather strange fruit tree in the abbey grounds. It was an orange tree, but had a branch from a lemon tree grafted on to it, so it produced both fruit. Bellapais is famous for its beautiful abbey. It is also the village that Lawrence Durrell used to live in. His book 'Bitter Lemons' is set on Cyprus. He stayed in this village from 1953 to 1955. In the past and maybe even now Bellapais also had the most fantastic pide and lamachun restaurant ever. Bellapais Village was possibly once the residence of the Bishops of Kyrenia. They are believed to have sought safety here during the Arab raids of the 7th and 8th centuries. Bellapais Abbey itself dates from the early 13th century. In 1187 when Jerusalem was seized by the Saracens, the Augustinian canons, who had custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, fled to Cyprus. Around 1200 Aimery de Lusignan founded the abbey at Bellapais for these Augustinian canons. It was originally called the Abbey of St. Mary of the Mountain.

After the Augustians left around the year 1206, the White Canons came to Bellapais. In several 15th and 16th century documents Bellapais is called the White Abbey due to the colour of these monks' habits. In 1246 a fragment of the True Cross was given to Bellapais abbey by Sir Roger the Norman. The abbey received other relics and gifts, too. Bellapais Abbey became bigger, more important and richer. The abbots often quarrelled with the Archbishop of Nicosia, and the pope had to intervene in their disagreements on more than one occasion. Between 1354 and 1358 King Hugh IV lived in the abbey and expanded it. In 1373, the Genoese attacked Bellapais Abbey and stole much of its treasure. By the mid 16th century, the White Canons had largely abandoned their strict lifestyle. Many had married and had children. The Venetians shortened the abbey's name to De la Paix, which eventually became Bellapais. After the Turkish conquest of Cyprus in 1570, the abbey was given to the Orthodox Church, but it fell into a state of disrepair. In 1878, the British Army used the abbey as a military hospital. The ruins were repaired in 1912 by George Jeffery. He was the Curator of the Ancient Monuments of Cyprus.

Bellapais

Bellapais

Bellapais

Bellapais

Bellapais

Bellapais

The Karpaz.

Favorite thing: The Karpaz is the peninsula that sticks out one side of Cyprus. The Karpaz is fairly remote and we have only visited it on a few occasions. On some of these occasions when we finished work on a Friday, we drove as fast as possible to The Blue Sea Hotel on the Karpaz. As fast as possible, because the hotel had no phone and only about four or five guest rooms. It could easily be full and it was not possible to pre-book. On our visits the hotel would frequently lose power and then guests were given candles to find their way around the hotel and to light their room with. Dinner at the hotel's restaurant was whatever fish the owner had caught that day. In fact they did not always have guests, so the owner would take his boat out and go fishing whenever guests arrived in order to be able to feed them. Fresh really did mean fresh there. I remember lying outside on a sun lounger in the late evening and gazing up at the stars in the dark night sky. I have never seen so many stars. With the absence of light interference the sky was filled with them. On one occasion we saw several shooting stars. It was magical. Near the hotel was an abandoned former Greek home which had fallen into ruins. When we were exploring during the day, we stepped in there and disturbed a resting flock of hundreds of little birds who took off startled in all directions around us. The Karpaz also had wonderful beaches. Looking down on them from the road, they reminded us of the bounty bar advert at that time. In the advert a girl strode along a deserted tropical beach eating a bounty bar. These beaches really were a taste of paradise, although as you got closer to the beach you did encounter washed up rubbish. The sea was very salty and clean there, but the waves were really big. I had only just learned to swim and must admit I found the sea a little scary, but that is probably just me being a wimp. Everyone else loved it. The Karpaz is about 70km long and points northeast towards Turkey and Syria. The Karpaz has a monastery called Apostolos Andreas Monastery. The Karpaz is home to a population of wild donkeys.

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

The Karpaz.

Salamis.

Cyprus has a long and rich history. It has been the centre of many different civilizations. In Northern Cyprus the best remains are located at Salamis. Salamis is near Famagusta. Salamis was an important city during the early Christian period. It is mentioned in the bible as St. Paul preached here on his first visit to Cyprus. St. Barnabas was born here. According to legend Salamis was founded by Tefkros. He was the son of King Telamon, the ruler of the Greek island of Salamis. King Telamon was furious with Tefkros because he did not prevent his younger brother, Ajax, from committing suicide during the Trojan War. King Telamon forbade Tefkros from ever returning home. So in 1184 BC Tefkros, after wandering around homeless for a while, landed on the Karpaz peninsula and later founded the city of Salamis. In 560 BC, Evelthon, the King of Salamis, was in control of the whole of Cyprus. He made Salamis the capital of Cyprus and it remained as capital until 294 BC. Later Potelemaios ruled Cyprus and moved the capital to Paphos. Salamis suffered many natural disasters as well as being involved in wars. It was damaged by earthquakes in 76 and 77 AD. It was damaged by the Jewish uprising of 116 AD. In 332 and 342 AD it was damaged by earthquakes again. Later the Emperor Constantius II founded a new city on the site of Salamis and called it Constantia. In 647 AD the city was totally abandoned as a result of Arab raids, more earthquakes and the fact that the harbour was becoming increasingly silted up with mud and sand. The inhabitants of Salamis moved to a new location and called it Famagusta. Salamis extends over an area of one square mile. The ruins include a Gymnasium with its colonnaded Palaestra. This was built by Trajan and Hadrian. There is also a theatre with 50 rows of seats. It could seat 15,000 people. There are many headless statues around Salamis. It is believed the early Christians broke these up as they were images of false religions and because they were naked. There are also the remains of a Roman bath house. Salamis is located on the coast. One of the things I loved about it most was that when you got hot and tired from wandering around the remains, you could head for the beach and throw yourself into the sea to cool down. The water was very shallow and calm as there was a breakwater further out sheltering it from the stormy seas. It was common to find fragments of pottery washed up on the beach. Salamis is not completely excavated there are believed to be more remains left to uncover. As well as the remains in Salamis there were also some lovely frescoes and mosaics. One of the very best things about Salamis was it was right on the coast, so when you had had your maximum fill of the sun, you could throw yourself in the sea and cool down. We once treated ourselves to a weekend stay in Salamis Bay Hotel. It was quite nice, but on our walk back to the hotel from the ruins, we got chased by wild dogs and had to take refuge in the sea to escape them, hence we arrived at the hotel rather wet. I remember the broken down hut on Salamis Beach which someone had labelled ten star hotel.

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Cont Cont

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Salamis Continued

Beaches.

Being a Mediterranean island Cyprus obviously has some fantastic beaches. I learned to swim at Turtle Beach on Cyprus. This beach is, of course, a loggerhead turtle nesting site at certain times of the year. This beach's real name is Alagadi Beach. It was also sometimes called Jimmy's Beach as Jimmy, the owner of The Grapevine restaurant and bar in Girne, lived near it. We once came here with a friend for a picnic. We brought tables, chairs, masses of food and no sooner had we set it all up when it started to pour. Insanely, we just continued eating and drinking as if we were not getting soaked. This earned us a standing ovation from a couple who had sought shelter in their car nearby. The easiest beach to get to is probably Acapulco Beach. There was a bus from Girne to Acapulco. Acapulco also had a swimming pool and a hotel. I have pictures of us on a beach we went to a couple of times. It was in the direction of Lapta. I remember it, possibly wrongly, as Bambi Beach, but cannot find that online. There are pictures of a beach called Escape Beach which look just like it, so I am assuming it changed its name. Famagusta had a lovely beach called Palm Beach. Possibly the prettiest beaches were on the Karpaz. There are pictures of these on my Karpaz tip.

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Beaches

Wild flowers.

North Cyprus is a great place to go walking, not only does it have stunning mountain scenery, but at different times of the year it is covered with spectacular wild flowers. On summer evenings it smells strongly of jasmine. Hillsides can be covered in wild rock roses, or wild cyclamens. There are hibiscus and bougainvillea shrubs brightening up their surroundings all over the island. At a certain time of the year our walk to work was suffused with yellow light from the mimosa trees. These are just a few of the many flower pictures I have from our stay there.

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Animals.

I love cats and I have several cat pictures from Cyrprus that I love. I've included one dog picture just in case they start to feel left out. A lot of our friends in Cyprus kept cats. I'd have loved to have one too, but not a good idea if you want to leave and move on some day

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

Animals

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Posted by irenevt 03:18 Archived in Cyprus Comments (6)

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