This is North Cyprus, location of the fortified port which inspired the British playwright William Shakespeare when he wrote his tragedy “Othello”. This is North Cyprus, site of the Castle of St Hilarion, model for the castle in Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”.This is North Cyprus, a mysterious emissary of history, with the finest Gothic architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Birbirinden ayrılamayan iki sevgilinin tutkulu aşkı gibi…Tanrıçası Afrodit olan Kıbrıs adasında tatil yapmak çok büyük bir ayrıcalıktır…Bu ayrıcalığı paylaşmaya ne dersiniz… Doğu Akdeniz’de yer alan Kıbrıs adası, Türkiye kıyılarına 64 km, Suriye’ye 96 km ve Mısır’a 400 km uzaklıktadır. Sicilya ve Sardunya’dan sonra Akdeniz’in en büyük üçüncü adasıdır. Kıbrıs, kıtalar arasında yer alan stratejik, ticari ve dini, konumu nedeniyle asırlar boyunca birçok medeniyete evsahipliği yapmıştır. 3355 km2 lik yüzölçümüne sahip Kuzey Kıbrıs’ta 10.000 yıllık geçmişe tanıklık eden tarihsel ve kültürel mirasın izleri ile buluşabilirsiniz. M.Ö 8000 yılı ilk insan izinin ada üzerinde başladığı dönemdir. Neolitik dönemden günümüze Yüzyıllar boyunca iz bırakan uygarlıklar arasında, Fenikeliler, Asurlular, Mısırlılar, Ptolomeler, Persler, Helenler, Romalılar, Bizanslılar, Lüzinyanlar, Venedikliler ,Osmanlı İmparatorluğu ve İngiliz İdaresinin izlerini görebilirsiniz.
This is North Cyprus, a bright and peaceful setting for a 10,000 year history and cultural heritage, where the sun will warm you for more than 300 days a year, an island ready to welcome you with its stunning natural beauty and untouched beaches….
The island of Cyprus is one of the most magical places in the world and North Cyprus is part of this landscape, full of mystery and Mediterranean fragrance. A journey to this most Mediterranean paradise will reward you with glimpses of historical sites which have witnessed a 10,000 year history, an impressive cultural heritage and different glorious treasures of the material world at every season of the year.
Gothic structures such as the Bellapais Abbey, the most wonderful example of Eastern Mediterranean art and workmanship, the Saint Sophia Cathedral (Selimiye Mosque), the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas (Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque), the city kingdoms of the classical period such as Salamis and Soli, the three fairytale castles of the Beşparmak mountain range, the mediaeval citadel of Gazimağusa, recognised as a world heritage site and the walled city of Lefkoşa are just a few of the magical stops on this historic journey.
You will find much to do and see while you are in North Cyprus. If you are interested in the natural world, you can experience ecotourism, discover the orchids of Cyprus, Cyprus’s endemic species, its boundless sandy beaches, its places of outstanding natural beauty which are home to rare protected turtles and a wealth of plant species and you can also try village life which continues unchanged after centuries.
Every corner of North Cyprus, with its five districts and population of 300,000, is worth visiting. We are inviting you to a historical, cultural, natural, authentic and romantic holiday in any part of North Cyprus at any time of the year (four seasons and 12 months), from Girne to Lefkoşa, from Güzelyurt to Lefke and from İskele to Karpaz and Gazimağusa.The island’s tourism accommodation, which offers a wide range of choices, will exceed the expectations of every holidaymaker. You can choose from luxury hotels, family hotels, boutique or ecotourism hotels which have been set up in recent years. These offer the opportunity to bathe in the clear waters of the Mediterranean, fine buffet dining, conference and seminar halls, swimming pools, waterparks, environmentally integrated green spaces, recreation and entertainment activities, gaming and facilities designed for your comfort with everything you need for a comfortable holiday.
From Yeşilırmak village in the west to the Monastery of the Apostolos Andreas in the east, every moment you spend in North Cyprus, a hidden paradise of the world, will add up to a comfortable and unforgettable holiday. North Cyprus richly deserves its reputation as the pearl of the Mediterranean.
- The hospitable, smiling and friendly people of the island will greet you as if every one of them was a tour guide and will do all they can to help you.
Every dawn and every dusk, cries of welcome rise from the most beautiful land upon which the sun rises and sets. Skies, mountains, sea and sun end their dance at the end of every day, but resume it with every dawning day, an unceasing cycle. It is like the infatuated love of inseparable lovers …
It is a unique privilege to holiday in the island of Cyprus, whose native goddess is Aphrodite…How would you like to take advantage of this privilege?…
The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean is 64 km from the coast of Turkey, 96 km from Syria, and 400 km from Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. Because of its location, strategically poised at the crossroads of commercial and religious traffic between three continents, Cyprus has hosted a number of civilisations over the centuries. In North Cyprus, which has an area of 3355 km2, you can find the traces of a historic and cultural heritage going back 10,000 years. The first signs of human occupation on the island date from 8,000 BC. You can see the mark left by civilisations over the centuries from the Neolithic period up to the present day, including the Phoenicians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Ptolemaic dynasty, the Persians, the Hellenes, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Lusignans, the Venetians, the Ottoman Empire and the British.
In the course of its history, the island of Cyprus has been known as Alashia, Kittim, Yadnana and Hettim, but its current name derives from copper (also known as cuprum or cyprium) of which the island boasts rich deposits.
- Every season has something to show in North Cyprus, a green island, with its olive trees, carob trees, cypresses and rolling maquis. The stunning beauty of the plant life of North Cyprus, which has rather productive soils, arrays itself in a different colour in each of the four seasons. It produces citrus fruits such as sweet and bitter oranges, mandarin, oranges , grapefruit and also produces a wealth of vegetables, including its famous potatoes. The shores are lined with eucalyptus and acacia and the mountains with aromatic pines.The climate of North Cyprus is a healthy one, typically Mediterranean. The summers are long and hot, while the winters are short with little rainfall. Cold winds, frost and snow are virtually unknown in North Cyprus. Precipitation normally takes the form of rain, but occasionally snow falls on the Girne mountain range, vanishing as quickly as it came. The coldest month is January which averages 10°C, while the hottest is July with an average temperature of 40°C. The annual mean temperature is 15°C.
LEFKOŞA (NICOSIA), CAPITAL CITY OF THE CIVILISATIONS
The capital city Lefkoşa which, over the course of its history, has also been known as Ledra, Lidra and Kermia, is surrounded by 4.5 km of city walls furnished with eleven bastions and three city gates. Points of interest for a visit to Lefkoşa include the Girne Gate (Porta Del Proveditore), one of the three gates which provides access through the historic city walls of Lefkoşa, the Mevlevi Tekke (Dervish Convent) from the 16th century, one of the most important sites associated with the Mevlevi sect in Cyprus, the Venetian Column-Obelisk (Dikilitaş), and the 16th century 68-room Great Khan (Büyük Han) dating from the Ottoman period, which now hosts the Cyprus Handicrafts and Cultural Centre. The St. Sophia Cathedral (the Selimiye Mosque), constructed during the Lusignan period between 1208 and 1326, is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture. Other locations worth seeing within the city walls of Lefkoşa are; the Kumarcılar Khan, Bedestan (the Church of St. Nicholas), the Lapidary Museum. Arabahmet Mosque, the Bandabuliya (the Covered Bazaar), which opened in 1932 and the Arasta Market, the Armenian Church (St. Mary of Tartosa), the Great Hamam (Turkish Bath), the buildings of the British Colonial period, the Samanbahçe Houses, the Arabahmet district, the Cumbalı houses, the Library of Sultan Mahmut II, St Catherine’s Church (Haydarpaşa Mosque), the Church of St. Lucas, Saçaklı Ev (the Eaved House), the Lusignan House, and the 19th century Derviş Paşa Mansion, home of an exhibition of ethnographic works of the recent past.
GİRNE (KYRENIA), PEARL OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
– Mediterranean and islander –
Girne is the centre of tourism in North Cyprus and bears the unmistakable characteristics of a Mediterranean city and of an island city. Girne Castle bears the marks of the Byzantine, Lusignan and Venetian periods, but has reached us, for the most part, intact. It has been laid out as a contemporary museum, including an interpretive centre, dungeons, the Church of St. George, a display of artefacts from the Vrysi Neolithic Site, re-creation of the Kırnı (Pınarbaşı) Tombs, the Mediterranean Tomb Excavation Section, the Venetian Tower, the Cistern, the Lusignan Tower, and the Sunken Ship Museum, displaying a 2,300 year old ship dating back to 300 BC. It dominates historic Girne harbour, recognised as the most beautiful port of the Mediterranean. St Hilarion Castle, which, at an altitude of 732 metres, is one of the North Cyprus’s 3 mountain castles, has the following display areas: interpretive centre, the Barbican, storerooms, workshop, kitchen, the Royal Palace, the cistern, Prince John’s Tower and the Byzantine Church. Another masterpiece is the Bellapais Abbey, one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture of the mediaeval Eastern Mediterranean.
Other sites to visit in the Girne area include Buffavento Castle, the Church of the Archangelos Michael and Icon Museum, the Sourp Magar Armenian Monastery, the Antiphonidis Church, the ancient city of Lambousa and the Alevkaya area and Herbarium where you can see species endemic to Cyprus, orchid species and rare plants.
GAZİMAĞUSA (FAMAGUSTA), AN OPEN AIR MUSEUM – City of Othello –
Gazimağusa, with its atmosphere of mystery and times past, is a world class heritage centre of history and culture. Places to visit include the ancient city of Salamis, one of the Ancient City Kingdoms of Cyprus (and for centuries its capital city), the Basilica of St. Epiphanius, the largest basilica in Cyprus, the Campanopetra basilica, the Agora, the Salamis Necropolis, and the Royal Tombs, the Monastery of St. Barnabas, one of the most important destinations of faith tourism, the Icon and Archaeology Museum, the Othello Tower, a 15th century Venetian structure which was supposedly the scene of William Shakespeare’s tragedy of Othello, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque), the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, dating from the Lusignan period (Sinan Paşa Mosque, also known as the Wheat Mosque), the Venetian Palace of 1522 (Plazza del Proveditore), the Cafer Paşa Bath constructed at the beginning of the 1600s, the Tomb of 28 Çelebi, the Twin Churches (of the Templars and Hospitallers), the 13th century Latin Church of St. George, the 16th century Greek Church of St. George, the Nestorian Church, Namık Kemal’s Dungeon, where the writer was held from 1873-1876 Akkule (Kara Kapısı, the Land Gate – the Ravelin), the Sea Gate (Porta Del Mare), the Fig Cave (İncirli Mağara) and the important ancient trading cities of Enkomi and Alasya, which date back to the Late Bronze Age. Constructed between 1298 and 1312, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque), where the Lusignan kings were crowned, is a remarkable example of Gothic art. It was converted into a mosque with the addition of a minaret, in the Ottoman period.
İSKELE / KARPAZ, A NATURAL WONDER – (Unspoiled beauty)
The natural beauties and historical treasures of the İskele/Karpaz region include: Altın Kumsal (Golden Beach), one of the world’s finest beaches, Panagia Theodokou Church at İskele, the İskele Museum of the Natural World, and the Church of St. James. Kantara Castle, which, at an altitude of approximately 700 metres above sea level, is one of the three high castles of the Beşparmak range. The Boltaşlı-Panagia Kanakaria Church. The ecotourism areas of the villages of Büyükkonuk, Kumyalı and Mehmetçik. Kral Tepesi (The King’s Hill) at Kaleburnu village, Nitovikla Castle, the Ay. Trias Basilica at Sipahi village, with its floor mosaics dating from the 5th and 6th centuries AD, the Giant Statues of the archaic period, the city of Aphendrika (Urania), the Church of Ay. Philon, which dates to the 5th century BC, the National Park Area, home of the donkeys which are one of the symbols of Cyprus, areas suitable for trekking and special interest tourism, the Neolithic city of Castros, which dates back to 6000 BC and the Monastery of the Apostolos Andreas, recognised as a sacred site, at the easternmost tip of the island of Cyprus.
GÜZELYURT/LEFKE, A HARMONY OF COLOUR – The Fraternity of Blue, Green and Orange
The main places to visit in the Güzelyurt-Lefke area, where orange, green and blue may be seen together in all their glory include the Güzelyurt Museum of Nature and Archaeology, which in its section displaying beautiful recovered gold artefacts, includes the Golden Leaves of Soli, the St. Mamas Monastery and Icon Museum, the ancient city of Soli, one of Cyprus’s ancient City Kingdoms, the Basilica of St. Auxibius, which contains peerless mosaics of the early Christian period, dating back to the period of the 4th – 6th centuries AD, a Roman theatre which could seat up to 4,000 persons and the Agora (market place). The 137 rooms Vouni Palace, constructed in the 5th century BC, the only example of Persian architecture on the island of Cyprus and the Temple of Athena. The grapevine in Yeşilırmak, which is in the Guinness Book of Records (as the largest vine in Cyprus), agricultural areas with citrus groves and fields of strawberries and kolakas, the unique root vegetable of Cyprus cuisine, venerable ancient olive trees and other trees of interest, Petra Tou Limnidi, which dates back to 5000 BC in the Neolithic period, the Ottoman and British architecture of the traditional old Turkish town of Lefke, Piri Mehmet Pasha Mosque, the aqueducts, date palms, the Copper Mines, the Maronite Church of Ay. Georgios in Koruçam village, the Mavi Köşk (the Blue House) between Tepebaşı and Çamlıbel, the city of Toumba Tou Skuru which dates to the early Bronze Age and the Pigades Sanctuary which dates to the Late Bronze Age.
Sea, Sun and Sand
The glorious natural beauty of North Cyprus awaits you on its beaches, among clear seas and golden sands. You can take a short break from your rushed and tiring life to discover the most serene bays.
While the burnished gold sun smiles down on North Cyprus, you can set your cares aside and cool down in the waters of the Mediterranean. You can detox your body and store up vitamin D.
Ecotourism activities in the first light of morning will open doors for you into new worlds. You can then enjoy an uninterrupted siesta to the accompaniment of the cicadas, so that you will be well rested in preparation for the long delightful evening.
You can enjoy the authentic cuisine of North Cyprus accompanied by a delicious glass of lemonade in the gentle evening breeze.
The most golden of suns will glisten in your hair and the bluest of seas will embrace your body on the sands of the beach.
Nature begins to stir during winter in North Cyprus, donning its most beautiful colours in Spring to present a scene of unparalleled beauty. In high summer, we say farewell to the feast of colours as the Mediterranean sun begins its long reign. In Autumn the island enters a period of calm and repose.
The spiritual tranquillity and the real taste of life that we are all seeking is here in North Cyprus. North Cyprus shares with you its God-given gifts of beauty.
The dazzling natural fabric awaits you from the rocks of Petro Tou Limnidi on the far west to Cape Zafer at the easternmost tip of the Karpaz peninsula.
The fertile soils, covered in the Mediterranean flora, are as unspoiled as they were on the day they were created.
Basking and resting on the tranquil beaches to the sound of the cicadas and bathing in the cleanest waters of the Mediterranean are the most precious blessings that North Cyprus has to offer. Enjoying the sea on untouched beaches amounts to a holiday beyond compare.
The green Gulf of Güzelyurt in the east awaits you, with the cultural heritage of Soli and Vouni looking on and you can sip your coffee under the shadow of venerable ancient olive trees.
You can get to know the Cathedrals of kings decorated with Ottoman minarets and walk the historic, mystical Ottoman and Gothic cloisters of Lefkoşa.
You can walk in the footsteps of the Lusignans and the Venetians in Girne’s ancient harbour, in the shadow of the Beşparmak mountains.
Heading south, the golden plain of Mesarya will amaze you and you will be beckoned by the Venetian city walls of Gazimağusa and the Othello Tower, to the accompaniment of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Welcomed by the magic and mystery of Gazimağusa, you make for the untouched and undiscovered Karpaz Peninsula, the virgin country of the island.
The island donkeys of Karpaz will greet your entry to this landscape, distinguished by its unique ornithology, the home of the Medoş tulip.
The Cultural Heritage – Historical Works
Cyprus has been a centre of attraction throughout its history. It has taken something from the culture of almost all of the civilisations, which have come and gone, during the time it sheltered them on its soil.
You can find traces of these civilisations and catch a glimpse of the mysterious past with every step you take. Something has been left behind by each of them: the Byzantines, Lusignans, Venetians, Ottomans and the British.
North Cyprus shares this historical legacy with you in its songs, in its streets and in its trees.
Venetian city walls surround Lefkoşa and Gazimağusa and the whole of North Cyprus is still overlooked by grand castles, cathedrals in which kings were crowned, monasteries dedicated to the saints who spread Christianity, tombs which are still visited, dervish lodges and interesting early experiments in social housing.
In North Cyprus, where architecture reached its peak with the Gothic movement, you can see, visit and follow in the footsteps of the past at St. Hilarion Castle, built by the Byzantines, Bellapais Monastery from the Lusignan period, the Great Khan of the Ottomans and at various buildings displaying the architecture of the British period.
The cultural legacy of North Cyprus, which goes right back to the classical period, is expressed in hundreds of works which can be visited and viewed.
Examples of the cultural legacy which awaits you include the city of Soli in Güzelyurt/Lefke, the Vouni Palace and the St. Mamas Monastery, Girne Castle in Girne, Bellapais Monastery and St Hilarion Castle, the Venetian city walls of Lefkoşa, the Cathedral of St. Sophia, the Arabahmet Houses and the Great Khan (Büyük Han), the Venetian Palace in Gazimağusa, Namık Kemal’s Dungeon and the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the ancient city of Salamis and St. Barnabas Monastery in Iskele and the Monastery of the Apostolos Andreas on the Karpaz peninsula.
Flora & Fauna – Endemic species, birds, turtles and donkeys –
ORCHIDS AND ENDEMIC SPECIES: About 1500 of the 1900 species contained in the Cyprus flora occur in North Cyprus. The Mediterranean climate, which receives more than 300 days of sun a year, is a major factor contributing to the richness of the natural environment. The vegetation of North Cyprus includes 19 endemic plant species which only grow in North Cyprus and are found nowhere else in the world. There are also 32 species of wild orchids. Just one orchid species (Orchid kotschyi) has been identified as endemic to North Cyprus. The best known of Cyprus’s endemic species is the Medoş Tulip (Tulipa cypria) which grows in the villages of Tepebaşı and Avtepe where a festival is held in the flower’s honour every March. All of the most precious of the flora and fauna, all the orchid species, the ancient olives and the endemic and rare species are protected.
The ancient sycamore fig in front of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque) has witnessed a host of historical and social developments in the course of its long life. The tree, which is reported to have been planted when construction of the cathedral began in 1298, has lived through the Lusignan, Venetian, Genoan, Ottoman and British periods and still flourishes today. This protected Sycamore Fig (Ficus sycomorus), which is approximately 710 years old, is reckoned to be the oldest living tree on Cyprus.
THE WILD DONKEYS OF KARPAZ: The Wild Donkeys undoubtedly have a special place among the fauna of Cyprus. The Karpaz, which not only boasts endless beaches of unparalleled quality and a unique flora, but also this hardworking, faithful, reliable and docile creature with strikingly beautiful eyes, is one of the most attractive of the tourism options. The wild donkeys which live their lives at liberty in the Karpaz National Park, are of great interest to visitors to North Cyprus and the natural fabric of the Karpaz region offers perfect living conditions for the donkeys.
BIRDS AND BUTTERFLIES: By virtue of its geographical location, North Cyprus is also a stopping off point for migrating birds. In North Cyprus, more than 370 species of bird can be spotted at various times of the year, particularly spring and autumn. The bird watching in North Cyprus is among the best in the Mediterranean. By happy chance, there are also more than 50 species of butterfly, each more attractive than the next, which may appear before you for a moment before flitting on.
MARINE TURTLES: Two species of marine turtle choose the beaches of North Cyprus to lay their eggs. These are the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas). Every year more than 200 of both species of marine turtle visit North Cyprus. The best time to observe the laying of the eggs is the end of June and the beginning of July. The hatch is in August, but especially the end of August and the beginning of September. If you want to witness this interesting phenomenon, the Alagadi, Akdeniz and Karpaz beaches await you.
There is no end to the delicacies of North Cyprus. The meals, meze and sweets which are unique to the Cyprus cuisine include halloumi, the famous Cyprus cheese, molohiya (chicken or lamb cooked with the leaves of the molohiya plant, a member of the mallow family), kolokas (the Cyprus root vegetable), pirohu (pastry parcels filled with cheese), pasta bake, roast potatoes, herse (wheat and ground meat), a large number of unique meze, şeftali kebab (a form of meat-ball or sausage which is unique to Cyprus), küp kebabı (oven kebab), hırsız kebabı (baked shoulder of lamb), sweets including sucuk (fruit “sausage”) köfter (made with flour and grape molasses), paluze (a blancmange), ekmek kadayıfı (shredded cereal with syrup and soft white cheese), sütlü börek (a milk pudding made with filo pastry), sini katmeri (a white cheese and almond pastry), hellim-nor böreği (cheese pastry), gullurikya (pastry steeped in carob molasses), pilavuna (grated talar cheese, yeast, eggs, milk and raisins, baked in an oven), kabak böreği (pastry made with squash), and macun (a form of fruit compôte) made of walnut, bitter orange, bergamot or squash. The verigo grape is also something you have to try. “Let us eat sweet and speak sweet”, and “A single cup of coffee brings forty years of friendship” are sayings that you can hear on every street corner.
Many restaurants in North Cyprus offer the local speciality sweets for you to try, in addition to standard international cuisine.
Activities – Diving, trekking, bird watching, golf, festivals…
In parallel with growing environmental awareness worldwide, awareness is also increasing in North Cyprus of the sector of special interest tourism which is based on a responsible approach which respects the environment. North Cyprus is ready to offer you something splendid whatever season of the year you come. On the 177 km long Beşparmak range, which is home to many wild flowers, including a number of endemic species, you can also find three mountain castles (from west to east, St Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle and Kantara Castle). There is much to do on the Beşparmak range of mountains, with its panoramic views, and walking, bird watching and photography are popular. One of the greenest areas, Alevkayası, is the site of the herbarium and definitely worth a visit.
Activities for special interest tourism in North Cyprus include: walking tours, birdwatching tours, village tourism, faith tourism, health tourism, adventure tourism, golf, diving, watersports, bicycle tours and cultural tours.
Nature treks give you the opportunity to see marine turtles, species of birds, plant species endemic to Cyprus, ancient trees, orchid species and other rare species, with the pleasure of knowing that you are taking the environmentally friendly option.
North Cyprus is ideal for diving. The island has one of the longest diving seasons in the world and you can see where the world’s oldest wreck was found. The water temperature, which averages 21.5 degrees, provides some of the best diving conditions in the Mediterranean. The deep blue sea is perfect for those who want to go underwater. Plunging into the blue depths, in Girne or one of the many fine diving points in other regions, will give you a new perspective on the magic of North Cyprus.
North Cyprus is just the place for this kind of tourism, and it also has many churches, monasteries and basilicas of enormous historical value which make it a centre of attraction for the whole world and particularly for the Christian community. The most important of these sites include the Monastery and tomb of St. Barnabas, who had a key role in spreading Christianity, the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas (St. Andrew), the Basilica of St. Auxibius at Soli and the Basilica of St Epiphanius and St. Mamas Monastery at Salamis. From the point of view of Islam, there are many mosques founded during the Ottoman administration and the tomb of Ömer in particular is important for faith tourism.
An increasing trend is the growing tradition of holding festivals throughout the year, inspired by the culture and natural history of Cyprus. At the locally-based festivals in particular you will be impressed by the hospitable Turkish Cypriots’ creativity and loyalty to their traditions. The Güzelyurt orange festival, the Tepebaşı and Avtepe Medoş Tulip (Tulipa cypria) festival, the Mehmetçik grape festival, the Tatlısu carob festival, the Bellapais music festival, the Gazimağusa culture festival, the Büyükkonuk Eco Day, the Lefke date and walnut festival, the Yeşilırmak strawberry festival and the Girne olive festival all have lovely surprises in store for you.
Myth and Legend
For centuries the island of Cyprus has been home not only to a procession of civilisations, but also to their mythologies.
The very mention of Cyprus brings to mind the queenly mythological character of Aphrodite; for Cyprus was the birthplace of this goddess of beauty.
The story goes that it was the beauty of the island that made her so beautiful.
Aphrodite’s tragic passion for Adonis and King Pygmalion’s undying love for Galatea, who gave her name to Galatea, now known as Mehmetçik, gave Cyprus, though only a small island, worldwide renown.
Those who hear the legend of how the olive protects against the evil eye can bless themselves with olive branches.
You can shed a tear at the legend of Beşparmak (the “Five Finger” mountain range) which borders North Cyprus, and you can light a candle in the mystical setting of the Monastery of the Apostolos Andreas.
Here in today’s modern world, you can catch traces of the ancient world. All you have to do is to take a short walk in the landscape of North Cyprus dotted with the anemones which are mark the tears of Aphrodite’s grief for her darling Adonis.
The living representatives of the culture and heart of Cyprus are its continuing traditional handicrafts, including Lefkara and Lapta embroidery, lacework, basketwork chairs, silk embroidery, wicker basketry, woodcarving and ceramics. You can see these handicrafts at the Büyük Han (the Great Khan) and various other points in North Cyprus and buy them as gifts.
While you eat the şeftali kebabı, the shish kebab or küp kebab with relish, you can cool down with fresh, homemade lemonade.
While you lend an ear to Cyprus’s own Dillirga music and watch lovers make eyes at one another, you can treat yourself to a marvellous feast of walnut macun. Then you can have a cup of traditional coffee and have your fortune read in the coffee grounds, confident that the there is peace and joy in store.
The Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Nicholas Cathedral) and Monumental Tree
The building which was built in the Lusignan era between 1298-1312 is one of the most flamboyant examples of gothic architecture throughout the whole Mediterranean. The Lusignan Kings were initially crowned as the Kings of Cyprus in Lefkoşa’s St. Sophia’s Cathedral and then they were crowned in Gazimağusa’s St. Nicholas Cathedral as the Kings of Jerusalem. The building was converted into a mosque and opened to worship by the Ottomans in 1571 with the addition of a minaret. The monumental East African Fig Tree (Ficus Sycomorus), which is located at the entrance of the Cathedral, is the island’s oldest tree. The tree was planted when the building of the Cathedral began in 1298 and is now 15 meters in height and 5 meters in width.
The Great Khan
It is not only Lefkoşa’s, but one of the Island’s most important Ottoman works of architecture. It was built between 1572-1579 as a two storied, square planned building with Bursa’s Koza Khan taken as an example. The Khan consists of a total of 68 rooms, where the rooms on the ground floor were used as shops of commerce and the rooms on the top floor were used as hotel rooms. The building is now used as an entertainment and travelling centre where handcrafts and souvenirs are sold.
The Girne Harbour
The horseshoe shaped historical Girne Harbour, which was built at the centre of the city, is most definitely one of the first places to visit in Girne. The colourful fishing boats and yachts anchored at the harbour make the Girne harbour a favourite attraction for locals as well tourists to visit. Up until recently the harbour was used as a centre of commerce.
The Historical Lefkoşa Houses
The walled city of Lefkoşa has a well founded history which leads way back into the Lusignan era. Especially the bay windowed single and double storied houses with their flat arched entrances and wooden eaves which are set up in the narrow streets of both the Arabahmet and the Samanbahce neighbourhoods attract a lot of interest from tourists from all over the world.
The Kantara Castle
The Kantara Castle is the easternmost of the castles situated on the Girne mountains, at a height of 700 meters from sea level; the Castle has a strategic advantage, as it overlooks the northern shoreline, the Mesarya plains and the Karpaz peninsula. The castle was believed to have been built by the Byzantines, however it was first mentioned in written records, when Richard the Lionheart captured Cyprus in 1191.
The Girne Gate
The Girne Gate is one of the three gates built into the fortifications built around Lefkosa in order to protect the city in the Venetian Era, and it is located to the north of the City Walls. It was named ‘The Del Proveditore Gate’ after the famous Venetian architect Proveditore Francesco Barbaro. The Gate was renovated by the Ottomans in1821 and a domed room was added on top. The Gate currently serves the public as a Tourist Information Office.
The Girne Castle and the Shipwreck Museum
The Girne Castle which is one of Cyprus’ most astonishing historical buildings stands proudly as Girne’s Symbol. The almost square planned structure has undergone many changes through the years up until it reached its present view. The ship believed to have been made in 3rd Century BC, which is being exhibited at the Castle’s Museum is thought to be the oldest commercial ship ever to be recovered from the bottom of the sea.
The Ancient City of Salamis
The ancient city of Salamis was founded by Tefkros in the Bronze Age located to the north of Gazimağusa. The earliest findings at the ancient city date back to 11th Century BC. The Salamis Ancient City was discovered with excavations carried out between 1952-1974 and is one of North Cyprus’ most important sites to visit. The ruins of the gymnasium, the baths, the forum and the agora which one can see whilst visiting the ancient city are all from the Roman period.
The Selimiye Mosque (St. Sofia’s Cathedral)
The Selimiye Mosque is one of the Cyprus’ most important gothic styled buildings. The construction of the building begun in 1208 and was eventually completed and opened to worship in 1326. The Lusignan Kings were crowned in this building. Later on in the Ottoman Era, the Cathedral was converted into a mosque with the addition of two minarets.
The Othello Castle
The main entrance to the Othello Castle which was built in the 14th Century by the Lusignans bears the embossment of the St. Mark Lion above it. The Castle became to be known by its current name in the English Colonial era. Part of Shakespeare’s famous play took part in one of Cyprus’ port towns, and therefore the castle was named after the hero of the play.
The Ancient City of Soli
The Ancient City of Soli is located along the coast of Lefke. It was one of the ten Kingdoms on Cyprus, but it was deserted as a result of Arab raids. There is a theatre as well as one of the first churches known to be built in Cyprus, the Soli Basilica, found within the Ancient City of Soli.
The Vuni Palace
The Vuni Palace, which was built in about 500 BC in order to maintain control over the city of Soli, was inhabited by the people of Soli until it was destroyed by a fire in 380 BC when it was deserted. The Palace complex, which consists of a total of 137 rooms lining three sides of the central courtyard, is located on a high hilltop to the east of the Ancient City of Soli.
St. Hilarion Castle
St. Hilarion Castle is one of the three castles set upon the Beşparmak Mountains and is located towards the west of the mountains at a height of 700 meters from sea level. In the 10th Century a monastery and a church were added to the castle, which was named after a saint who migrated from Jerusalem to Cyprus and spent the last years of his life praying there. It is said that the famous Walt Disney was also inspired by the St. Hilarion Castle and that the location of the renowned cartoon “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was based in the this Castle.
St. Mamas Church and Monastery
The St. Mamas Monastery is located in Güzelyurt, and the church within the monastery was built by the Byzantines. There are many stories about St. Mamas but the most common one is that of a Christian Saint who lived in the Güzelyurt area. The Monastery is now being used as a museum.
Hz. Ömer Tekke
The Hz. Ömer Tekke, dating back to the Arab raids which took place between the 7th and 10th centuries, is one of the most important votive places for Muslims to visit in Cyprus. The Tekke is located approximately 4 km to the east of Girne.
St. Barnabas Monastery and Icon Museum
St. Barnabas Monastery was built in the memory of St. Barnabas, who was the son of a Jewish family from Salamis. After going to Jerusalem to study, he converted to Christianity and returned to Cyprus preaching Christianity all over the Island together with St. Paul. The Monastery consists of a church, courtyard, monastery rooms and the Chapel in which St. Barnabas’ tomb lies. The Monastery is being currently used as a museum.
Derviş Pasha Mansion
The owner, of the two storied classical Ottoman mansion, which was built in the 19th Century, was Dervish Pasha, who was also the publisher of the ‘Zaman’ newspaper which was one of the first Turkish newspapers printed in Cyprus. The mansion is located in the well preserved neighbourhood of Arabahmet within the walled city of Lefkoşa. The mansion was opened to the public in 1988 as the Ethnographic Museum.
The Bufavento Castle sits astride the BeşparmakMountains towards the east of Girne and it is the highest of the three castles, with St. Hilarion Castle to the west and Kantara Castle to the east. It was named ‘Bufavento’, because the mount that it was built on is very windy and Bufavento literally means “defier of winds” in Latin. Looking towards the south from the Castle, you will be met with the beautiful panoramic view ofLefkoşa.
The Mevlevi Tekke
The Mevlevi Tekke is situated at the south of the Girne Gate in Lefkoşa, it is one most important and historical buildings in Cyprus. It is believed that the Mevlevi sect came to Cyprus with the Ottoman Conquest. The Mevlevi Tekke, where the tombs of 16 prominent Mevlevi’s are laid to rest, is currently being used as a museum.
The Bellapais Abbey and Lawrence Durell
The Medieval Bellapais Abbey is located at the foot of the BeşparmakMountains to the east of Girne where it fascinates visiting tourists from all over the world with its unique gothic styled architecture and astonishing scenery.
The world famous English author Lawrence Durell, who wrote his book the “Bitter Lemons” whilst living in Bellapais Village between 1953-1956, constantly mentioned his admiration for the Abbey. The house in which he lived in next to the Abbey, also attracts many visitors.
The wonderful Golden Beach is one of the Mediterranean Sea’s virgin beaches; it stretches 2 km along the Karpaz Peninsula with its clear blue water and golden sandy shoreline. All along Golden Beach you will have the captivating opportunity of walking bare footed for kilometres and refreshing yourselves by taking a dive in to the cool blue waters.
The Beşparmak Peak
The Beşparmak Mountains stretch 160 kilometres in length, running parallel to Cyprus’ northern coastline. The name ‘Beşparmaklar’ comes from the five finger-like projections of the mountain towards Girne’s east. There are many legends about the Beşparmak Mountains. The most common one tells the story of two young men who fought a deadly duel over a girl they had both fallen in love with. The virtuous young man who won the duel by killing the selfish young man and throwing him into the nearby swamp also drowned in the swamp as a result of the injuries he had sustained. Reaching out for his loved one as he drowned, only his hand up to his wrist remained outside the swamp, it turned into stone as time passed on and eventually became today’s ‘Beşparmak’ peak.
Migrating and Endemic Bird Species
Due to Cyprus’ location, it is a site on the route of birds migrating between Europe and Africa. In addition to this, the island also plays host to endemic bird species such as the Cyprus Wheatear and the Cyprus Warbler. Both of these species have evolved through the years adapting to the environment and weather conditions of Cyprus, thus differentiating from similar species.
The Island of Cyprus has been visited for hundreds of millions of years by Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta) and Green Turtles. These astonishing creatures visit Cyprus’ shores every year in order to nest along the golden sands of ‘Alagadi (Turtle) Beach’ on the northern coastline and ‘Golden Beach’ and ‘Ronnas Beach’ in the Karpaz Peninsula of Northern Cyprus.
With approximately 1900 different plants housed in its natural environment, the Island of Cyprus fascinates all visitors. Almost 1600 of these species are commonly seen all around Northern Cyprus. Of the 120 different plants that are unique to the Island, the ‘Brossica Hilarionis’, ‘Dianthus Cyprius’ and ‘Silene Fraudatrix’ are a few of the 19 endemic species which are distinctly found in their natural habitats only in Northern Cyprus. Whereas the ‘Tulipa Cypria’ and the Cyprus Bee Orchid are a couple of the most commonly found species of the 40 endemic plants throughout the Island.
The Cyprus donkey is one of the many animals that are indigenous to the Island and they have attracted a lot of attention as the symbol of the island. Generally roaming around in groups, they have managed to create a wild habitat for themselves in the nature of the Karpaz Peninsula. It is highly likely to see the donkeys in their natural habitats especially around the village of ‘Dipkarpaz’ and Cape ‘Zafer’ in the Karpaz
It is believed that some, of the almost 2000 monumental olive trees in the Güzelyurt-Kalkanlı area that are currently under protection, are around a thousand years old. Scientists acknowledge that these trees are evidence that Cyprus was the source in spreading the olive tree all around the Mediterranean.
The Karpaz Peninsula, with its historical and natural beauty, is the most unspoiled area in Cyprus. Karpaz plays host to North Cyprus’ only National Park as well as many ancient cities, monasteries and the traces of various civilizations.
Baf Chewing Gum
Cyprus’ traditional Baf Chewing Gum is a natural gum, harvested from the trunk of Pistacia terebinthus, the terebinth tree. The gum is amber in colour and is very tough. The gum sticks are wrapped in thin paper packages. Even though lately the gum has lost popularity, it is still a favourite amongst locals and tourists.
Hellim is a traditional Cyprus cheese made generally from sheep or goat milk. This delicious white cheese can be consumed at breakfast, grilled on a barbecue or fried in a pan. A traditional pastry is also made with hellim and grated hellim mixed with dried mint is also used as a garnish on top of macaroni.
Traditional Fırın Kebap
Cyprus’ traditional ‘Fırın Kebap’ is also known as ‘Thieves Kebap’ and is made from chunks of lamb’s meat or young goat’s meat being cooked together with potatoes in traditional jar shaped ovens. ‘Fırın Kebap’ is one of Cypriot cuisine’s most important dishes and it is served with strained yoghurt, onions, cracked wheat pilaf and seasonal salad.
Cyprus Ekmek Kadayıfı
This traditional bread pudding is made from two layers of bread filled with a mixture of soft nor cheese, crushed almonds and cinnamon. It is then cooked on low heat as syrup is slowly poured over it. ‘Ekmek Kadayıfı’ which is one of Cypriot cuisine’s most esteemed deserts is then allowed to cool in the refrigerator and served cold.
The Cyprus Patato and Kolokas
The Cyprus potato is one of the renowned potatoes in the whole of Europe and especially in the UK. The Cyprus potato which flourishes in our Islands climate and soil, adds rich tastes to meals as well as maintaining its taste and shape under all cooking circumstances.
‘Kolokas’ or colocasia, on the other hand is a potato like vegetable, grown especially in the Karpaz and Yeşilırmak regions. With its large leaves the plant enjoys lots of water. It is another favourite meal in the Cypriot cuisine when cooked with either chicken or lamb. The baby kolokas sprouts are called ‘bullez’ and these can also be deep fried with potatoes.
Pirohu is another traditional Cypriot pastry dish loved by both locals and tourists alike. It is made of a mixture of Cypriot nor cheese and dried mint stuffed into small pastry sacks which are then boiled and served with grated hellim sprinkled on top.
Traditional Seles,Sestas and Baskets
‘Sele’s (flat wicker baskets) and ‘Sesta’s (wicker trays) are kitchen utensils made from woven wheat straw which are either naturally coloured or dyed. The stronger wicker baskets are more generally made from woven bamboo canes and tree stems and are used for carrying harvested fruits. These products were more commonly used in the past, however nowadays they are locally used as decorations and are very popular as souvenirs for tourists.
Pastry Dishes and Pies
Pastry dishes hold a very important place in Cypriot cuisine, as it has been influenced by many different cultures through the years. The most important pastry delicacies can be listed as; ‘Tatar böreği’, ‘pirohu’, ‘nor böreği’ (whey cheese pie), ‘kiyma böreği’ (minced meat pie), ‘ıspanak böreği’ (spinach pie), ‘kabak böreği’ (pumpkin pie), ‘mantar böreği’ (mushroom pie), ‘zeytinli’ (olive bread), ‘hellimli’ (hellim cheese bread), ‘bidda’ bread, ‘çörek’ (rounded sweet bread), ‘tahınlı’ (tahini bread) and ‘pilavuna’ (a salty-sweet bun filled with mixed cheese)
Another important savoury in the Cypriot cuisine is the mezes. Mezes are a mixed variety of cold and hot dishes generally served as appetizers prior to a meal. ‘Humus’, ‘cacık’, ‘tahın’, pickled caper and celery, ‘samarella’ (cured sheep with salt and oregano), fried ‘hellim’, ‘çakıstes’ (cracked green olives marinated in olive oil, lemon, garlic and coriander seeds), tongue, brain and ‘pastırma’ (spicy sausages).
The tasty ‘şeftali’ kebap is an authentic Cypriot sausage made from a mixture of ground goat or sheep meat, finely chopped onions, parsley and various herbs which are then wrapped into the caul fat. The delicious final product is then cooked on the charcoal or grilled until they turn golden brown.
Babutsa (Prickly Pears)
The prickly pear or ‘Babutsa’, as it is more commonly known amongst Cypriot locals, is the fruit of a cactus plant which grows wildly in natural circumstances all over Cyprus. This tasty Mediterranean fruit is commonly found on the market and it is generally found and harvested from the area of Serdarlı Village.
Lefkara Lace Embroidery
There are many historical examples showing the qualities of Cypriot handicrafts such as the belief that Alexander the Great’s sword was made in Cyprus and that Leonardo Da Vinci admired Cypriot embroidery. Lefkara Lace embroidery is named after the village it originated from and dates back to the 14th century. Even though it was produced for personal needs in the past, it is now produced as a commercial product for tourists as a souvenir.
‘Molehiya’ is a traditional Cypriot dish that is made from either fresh or dried leaves of the ‘molehiya’ plant. Although the dish originates from the Arabs, it has eventually become a delicious national dish.
‘Zivaniya’ is a traditional Cypriot beverage, which is distilled from pomace (or marcs), the residue of grapes that are pressed during the winemaking process (including the stems and seeds). The mixture is then distilled to produce Zivaniya. The colorless and strong alcoholic drink has a light aroma of raisins and is characterized by its typical taste. It is advised that you drink it cold and sip by sip.
‘Ceviz macunu’ (Green walnuts in syrup) are one of the most popular Turkish Cypriot delicacies. The fresh walnuts are kept in fresh water for a week and then almonds and cloves are placed in the middle which is carved out. The sweets are then boiled and sugar is added. The sweet is generally served after Turkish coffee.
The Coffee Culture
Social relationships and family ties play an important part in the Turkish Cypriot community. The culture of serving coffee enhances social ties in the Turkish Cypriot culture and generally Turkish coffee is a preference for any local household family. Another common social activity for women in the Turkish Cypriot community is fortune telling from the coffee residue left in the cups.
Due to its mild climate Cyprus is a suitable site for the sport of golf to be played all year round. Top quality facilities which have recently been built increase the attraction to the sport on the Island.
Yachts setting sail from the Girne and Gazimağusa harbours offer various tempting voyages in the clear warm Mediterranean waters that surround our beautiful Island. The well endowed marine culture naturally becomes a way of life with Cyprus being an Island.
Cyprus’ unique and mild climate provides the possibility for trekking all throughout the year. Whilst trekking along the many paths prepared along the Beşparmak Mountains you will enjoy the beautiful scenery and nature as well as stumbling upon historical treasures such as St. Hilarion Castle which pop out of the natural environment as if they spring out of story books.
For those who seek an adrenalin rush, paragliding is another sporting attraction available to those who visit Northern Cyprus between April and October. It is also the perfect chance to take some great photographs of the fascinating scenery with a birds-eye view.
For those who would like to try their luck under the dazzling array of lights, North Cyprus has the finest of top quality casinos legally operating live, just as in countries such as USA, Germany, China and Australia.
The warm and crystal clear waters surrounding Northern Cyprus offer the perfect opportunity for divers from all over the world to discover the fascinating marine life. Owing to the fact that the water temperature in November is about 20o C the diving season lasts from April up until December.