CITIES AND PLACES OF INTEREST
Imagine miles of beautiful unspoilt golden sandy beaches set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Five Finger Mountains and you have North Cyprus.
North Cyprus is one of the few remaining places in the Mediterranean which has escaped the problems of mass-tourism and over-development and has retained its stunning natural beauty and charm. Its resorts are free from crowds and the pace of life is relaxed. Whilst the Government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus appreciates the importance of the tourism and construction industries to the economy, it is conscious to ensure that the natural beauty of the island is not spoiled and, to this end, there are strict regulations to protect the environment from excessive development and to ensure that the infrastructure is not over-stretched. These regulations ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty of the North in peace and harmony with their neighbours and the environment.
Cyprus has a rich and colourful history stretching over thousands of years of civilisations including Hellenistic, Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, Ottoman and British, all of whom have left their own individual mark on the island. This rich history is visible in ever corner of the North - in its ancient cities, churches, castles and mosques. Northern Cyprus can be divided into six main areas, all of which boast a wealth of culture, history and charm. Below is just a brief description of the delights each region has to offer the visitor:
Nicosia (or Lefkoşa in Turkish) is the capital city of Cyprus and is the last remaining divided capital city in the world, divided by the "green line" separating the Turkish Cypriot North from the Greek Cypriot South. There are controlled border crossings so that you can visit both sides of the island very easily. The city is great for shopping and has a wealth of history. Major attractions include the Great Inn (Buyukhan) which was built in 1572 and used as a caravanserai and a hotel for the merchants of the time, the St. Sophia Cathedral, a stunning gothic cathedral which was built between 1208 and 1326 and which is now used as a mosque and the Covered Bazaar which is superb local market selling fresh fruit and vegetables, Turkish delights and other local sweets and souvenirs.
Kyrenia (or Girne in Turkish) is the area which most tourists visit. Its most famous attraction is the old harbour which is a horseshoe shaped harbour with an array of yachts and fishing boats and which is lined with waterside restaurants and bars. There is also the fascinating 7th century Kyrenia Castle which was built to protect the area from Arab raids. The castle houses the Shipwreck Museum which is home to the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. The wreck is thought to be the remains of a Syrian ship which sank in 300BC.
St. Hilarion Castle with its breathtaking views across the whole of Kyrenia and the Bellapais Abbey with its wonderful gothic architecture and spectacular coastline views are also popular places to visit. To the West of Kyrenia you will find beautiful beaches and large hotels offering excellent tourist accommodation. The East of Kyrenia is fast-developing area and now boasts North Cyprus's first and only professional golf course and country club located in Esentepe.
Guzelyurt is one of the richest agricultural areas in the North and is famous for citrus production. St. Mamas church is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture to be found on the island. The ruins of the ancient history of Soli dating as far back as the 6th century BC and the nearby ruins of Vouni Palace are great attractions for anyone with an interest in ancient history.
Famagusta is an ancient walled city. Its long and varied past can be seen in the countless ancient Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques and baths and Lusignan palaces located in and around the city. Fans of English literature will also find the Othello Tower, the Cypriot setting for William Shakespeare's famous 'Othello' an interesting place to stop. Famagusta's most famous attraction, however, is the Salamis Ruins located 8km north of the City. These are the remains of an ancient city thought to have been constructed first at the end of the Bronze Age and then after suffering severe earthquake damage between 76 and 77AD, was rebuilt by Constantine. The ruins give a fascinating insight into long lost civilisations and include a huge roman amphitheatre, gymnasium, royal tombs and well-preserved mosaics. The surrounding beautiful golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are also a welcome attraction to visitors to Famagusta.
Iskele is a small town which many visitors pass through on their return from the Karpaz to Famagusta. Its most famous attraction is Kantara Castle, one of the three castles located on the Five Finger Mountain range. The castle stands at 2068 feet above sea level and provides breathtaking vies across the island.
THE KARPAZ PENINSULAR (DIPKARPAZ) :
The Karpaz Peninsular is the treasure of Northern Cyrus. A visit to the Karpaz is like a visit to another world. The scenery is spectacular - the lush green of the countryside combines with miles of isolated stretches of golden sands and the turquoise of the Mediterranean Sea. The area is famous for its wild donkeys and its coastline is a natural breeding area for rare green and loggerhead turtles. It is possible to walk right to the very tip of the island where the land is no more than a few feet in width and the sea laps against the rocks in front of you and to the left and the right. The area is also famous for its large number of Byzantine and other churches and its most visited attractions are the mosaics at the 5th century Ayios Trias Basilica and the Apostolos Andreas Monastery named after Apostolos Andreas, who was a follower of St. John the Baptist and the first man to be called by Jesus to become a priest.