Historic cities of North Cyprus

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What you need to know about the historic cities of North Cyprus

North Cyprus’ capital is Lefkosa (Nicosia), which has a population of over 35,000 people and is home to North Cyprus’s main administrative and commercial centers. Other notable towns include Gazimagusa (Famagusta), which is a thriving tourist, industrial, and economic center as well as the country’s main port, Girne (Kyrenia), a touristic town with a beautiful yacht harbor, and Guzelyurt (Morphou) and Lefke, which are famed for their citrus groves.

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Nicosia

The capital of North Cyprus is Nicosia. Nicosia is the administrative center of the district and the world’s only divided capital, with the northern Turkish and southern Greek sections separated by a United Nations-maintained demilitarized zone known as the “Green Line.” The city’s name comes from around 2,250 years ago when it was known as Ledra or Ledrae. This name was shortly changed to Lefkotheon, although it was also known as Ledron. In the Byzantine era, the name was changed to Lefkon, which means “popular grove.”

From 1192, the city served as the seat of the Cypriot monarchs, and it remained the capital of Cyprus until the 17th century, with the exception of a brief time beginning in 1489 when it was taken over by Venetians. In 1571, the Turks conquered Cyprus, and Nicosia was re-established as the capital. During the Venetians’ reign, the city underwent significant expansion, with the construction of massive, thick barriers all around the city. The city of Nicosia (Lefkosia) was protected with large stone walls and gates. There are eleven towers and three gates on the three-and-a-half-mile-long walls. Today, the iconic Famagusta Gate proudly guards the still-ancient town within from the contemporary metropolis beyond.

The city prospered throughout the Ottoman era, as seen by the Gothic architecture of the Selimiye Mosque, the Bedestan, the Arab Ahmet Mosque, and the Great Han Inn, to mention a few.

The Turkish invasion, which arose from an uprising against the administration of North Cyprus, resulted in the contemporary divided capital. The island’s current capital, with a population of roughly 150,000 people, is split into Turkish and Greek districts by a line known as the ‘green line,’ which runs east-west.

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Famagusta

In North Cyprus, Famagusta is an important port. It is about 37 miles (55 kilometers) east of Nicosia, in a harbor between Capes Greco and Eloea on the island’s east coast. The port is home to Cyprus’ deepest harbor. Famagusta is a Frankish version of its Greek name, which means “buried in sand” and describes the Pedieos’ silted mouth.

Famagusta is located south of Salamis (now ruins) and north of Varosha, an old ghost town (Maras). Varosha is now nothing more than a deserted ghost town. It is located between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in a United Nations-designated buffer zone.

Famagusta is one of the best examples of eastern Mediterranean medieval architecture. The earliest evidence of settlements may be found near the contemporary town of Famagusta, in a region known as “Enkomi” in the Bronze Age, dating back to the 13th century B.C. The settlement was named “Salamis” at the commencement of the Iron Age because it was built near the sea. During the Byzantine time, the name “Ammochostos” was first attested. Famagusta was seized by the Ottomans in 1571.

Some historians declare, King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt established Famagusta around 285 B.C. By 300 A.D., the town had become one of the most important markets in the Eastern Mediterranean, a meeting place for wealthy merchants and the headquarters of multiple Christian religious orders, as shown by numerous churches of various religions. These can still be found around the town today.

This happened during the Crusades when North Cyprus was governed by the wealthy Lusignan dynasty. As a result, the Lusignan dynasty is known in North Cyprus history from 1200 until 1489. Famagusta was fortified by fortifications that encircled the town and the best-protected harbor in North Cyprus, the citadel stronghold. The first significant emphasis is the citadel or Othello’s tower.

The golden age of Famagusta was viewed as such by visiting merchants who brought back tales of amazing prosperity throughout the period 1300 to 1400. Rival groups of Genoese and Venetian merchants moved thereafter 1400. The Genoese sparked several wars until the Venetians ultimately acquired control of all of North Cyprus. They moved the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta in 1489. For 82 years, the Venetians were in charge, and the entire island was administered from Famagusta.

The development of gunpowder and the employment of cannons forced the Venetians to restructure their whole defense to accommodate the new kind of warfare of artillery. Round towers were built in place of square ones, and cannon portholes were added.

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Kyrenia

The city is located on North Cyprus’s north coast. It is a bustling tiny town with a harbor that is known for its natural beauty, making it an ideal vacation spot. The city was the administrative seat of the Kyrenia region of Cyprus, and it was founded by the Achaeans, ancient Greek colonists, then fortified by the Byzantines, Franks, and Venetians.

It was lined with warehouses in its prime, storing fruits from the countryside as they awaited shipment. The structures are now largely eateries, with tables and chairs bordering the water’s edge. The castle at the east end of the port is a stunning sight, and within its walls is a 12-century church with late Roman capitals that have been reused.

The top two beaches in Kyrenia are Escape Beach Club and Club Acapulco. They both provide a great deal of fun. There is a bar, a restaurant, and a nightclub in each location. These two beaches are ideal for families with children.

In North Cyprus, you have a great chance of finding good walking areas. The Besparmak Mountains are a great place to go for a hike. You are welcome to park your automobile at St. Hilarion Castle. Head west to soak in Kyrenia’s breathtaking sights. Turtle Beach is located on the new coast road leading east from Kyrenia to Esentepe. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the summer, the beach is guarded. This is because turtles come to deposit their eggs on the beach area while environmentalists keep an eye on them. The beach is fantastic throughout the day and is quite popular with the locals. A modest structure known as the “Turtle Project” may be found at this site. You may go there to learn about turtles, see films, and even schedule a night’s stay on the beach to witness the turtles lay their eggs. They deposit their eggs in June, and the eggs hatch in August.

Bellapais Abbey is a ten-minute drive from Kyrenia. A visit to the 14th century Lusignan Bellapais Abbey in North Cyprus is a necessity, especially given its spectacular setting.

It has the most beautiful landscape on the island, with the sea to the north and the greenery of the Besparmak (Five Finger) Mountain range to the south. The enormous remains of its Crusader castle frame a lovely and modest harbor full of yachts and fishing boats. The harbor has an intoxicatingly quiet ambiance, with the rugged mountains in the background and the calm glittering water in front.

Kyrenia Castle stands guard over the harbor’s entrance. Its vast defenses, which date from the Byzantine period, enclose a complicated mix of architectural types from centuries before, and it is possible that there was once a Roman fort here. The fortress was later rebuilt and reinforced by the Lusignans and subsequently the Venetians, and it today houses many historical artifacts as well as the world’s oldest shipwreck.

At any time of day, Kyrenia is a pleasant location to visit. The waterfront and the cobblestone narrow alleyways surrounding it are full of wonderful stores to visit. There are also markets and a variety of local cafés to explore. As the sun sets, Kyrenia harbor comes alive again as people go for an evening promenade, and the cafés and bistros along with the seafront prepare for their nighttime business. To welcome the evening’s visitors to wine and dine in the cooling wind, crisp white linen and little pots of local flowers are painstakingly set on tabletops.

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Guzelyurt

Guzelyurt is the Turkish word for “beautiful country,” which is a fitting name. Guzelyurt is a market town on North Cyprus’ west coast. One of its most appealing aspects is that it is home to one of the country’s numerous churches devoted to St. Mamas, the patron saint of tax evaders. He was given the moniker because he was a hermit living in dire straits who eluded the authorities when they attempted to tax him. Soldiers were dispatched to apprehend him, but on his way back to town, he came across a lion assaulting a lamb, eluded the soldiers, saved the lamb, jumped on the lion’s back, and arrived in town in this manner. His courage gained him tax exemption, earning him the name “Patron Saint of Tax Avoiders.”

Güzelyurt is not a traditional tourist site, but it is worth visiting if you want to explore regions of North Cyprus that have not been influenced by tourism. You can relax and enjoy your vacation in the tranquility of the natural surroundings. A history and archaeology museum is housed at Guzelyurt. The museum has a collection that spans North Cyprus’ prehistoric era through the Byzantine period. The museum has primitive tools discovered in several prehistoric sites around North Cyprus, as well as Bronze Age pottery examples. There is also a covered market and some pretty lovely Orthodox churches. The scenic hamlet of Lefke (the location of Cyprus’ now-defunct copper mines), the Roman remains at Soli, and the hilltop palace of Vouni are all located within the Güzelyurt region.

Guzelyurt is the regional center of the Güzelyurt district and is regarded as North Cyprus’ fruit bowl. It is one of North Cyprus’ wealthiest agricultural districts, known for its citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit) and strawberries, which thrive in the area’s fertile red soil. Citrus fruits are shipped in considerable quantities, with the remainder being turned into fruit juice and bottled for export and local consumption. The town, which is located in the west, is surrounded by large citrus trees, making it the greenest part of the island. The amount of water flowing down from the Troodos Mountains to the south is the cause of this.

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