North Cyprus – an island which throughout its history, has been sought after for strategic, political, commercial and religious reasons and which has never lost its attraction…
This is North Cyprus, with its Neolithic settlement sites, where civilisation was born, its ancient city kingdoms reflecting the glory of the Roman period, a place of refuge for Crusaders, the prized possession of the French Lusignan lords, the most important eastern harbour of the Venetian traders, with the strongest Ottoman castle of the Eastern Mediterranean.
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.
North Cyprus is the place where:
*** The fortified port which inspired the British playwright William Shakespeare when he wrote his tragedy “Othello.
*** Site of the Castle of St Hilarion, model for the castle in Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”.
*** Leonardo Da Vinci contributed to the plans for the defence of Gazimağusa, and included the “River Motif” from Lefkara lacework in the design of the tablecloth in his peerless work “The Last Supper”.
*** Lawrence Durrell wrote “Bitter Lemons”, an intercontinental crossroads of faith, the island which the Knights Templar of “Da Vinci Code” fame purchased from Richard the Lionheart for 100,000 Byzantine gold pieces and managed to rule for the space of one year.
*** Island of immortal mythic love, birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of Beauty and Love, where the artist King Pygmalion created a statue of a perfect woman and fell in love with her.
*** 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.
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.
HISTORY OF CYPRUS
The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean 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, and 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.
AREA: 3,355 km2
POPULATION: 294,906 (2011)
NATIONALITY: Turkish Cypriots
LANGUAGES: Turkish is an official language & English is spoken almost everywhere
CURRENCY: Turkish Lira (YTL); Currencies (USD & EURO & POUND) are useable
VISA: Visa for the entrance to North Cyprus is free of charge, can be done in airport while passport control. Up on your request a visa-stamp can be put on the separate paper sheet which you have to fill before going to the passport control.
EDUCATION: There are eight international universities in Northern Cyprus. More than 40,000 students are coming all around the world for studying. Universities such as Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) and Near East University (NEU) are full individual members of the European University Association.
CLIMATE: 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.
FLORA & FAUNA
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cuisine: 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. 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.
Scuba Diving: 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.
Trekking: North Cyprus is ready to offer you something splendid whatever season of the year you come. Trekking 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.
Paragliding: The year-round warm climate of North Cyprus makes it an ideal for paragliding. The most professional paragliding companies offer both tandems-flying for beginners and longer paragliding holidays, where you can enjoy the fantastic beauty of North Cyprus and the freedom of the skies. Also, very professional team of people who have years of experience of their work will take care of your safety.
Golfing: Golfing in North Cyprus is rapidly growing and has a professionaly designed golf course country golf club in Esentepe, Kyrenia. Because of the perfect weather of North Cyprus, golf players can play all year round and enjoy the views of the Medeterranean Sea and Five-Fingers Mountains. Korineum Golf Course and Country Club offers 21 professional designed holes, 3 of holes are used for golf a training and 18 for a professional play of golf. Also, it is offering what to expect from a world class, professional golf holiday.
CITIES OF NORTHERN CYPRUS
NICOSIA: Capital City of the Civilizations.
The capital city Nicosia (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 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; 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.
KYRENIA: Pearl of the Mediterranean
Kyrenia is the centre of tourism in North Cyprus and bears the unmistakable characteristics of a Mediterranean city and of an island city. Kyrenia 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 Kyrenia 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.
ISKELE & 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.
GUZELYURT & LEFKE: A Harmony of Colour
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.