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Major Towns

Kyrenia (Girne)

This fascinating town is situated on the northern coast of Cyprus. Its horseshoe shaped harbour with backdrop of the Besparmak Mountains make Kyrenia one of the most beautiful areas on the island. The old carob warehouses which border the harbour have been converted into attractive cafes, restaurants, bars and private residences with the fishing boats and colourful yachts making this the ideal place to wile away the hours. The harbour is overlooked by Kyrenia castle, constructed in the 9th century to ward off Arab invaders. The castle is now home to many historical artefacts and is the current resting-place of the world's oldest shipwreck. There are plenty of places of interest in the area for those days when you want to do more than laze in the sun, including: Shipwreck Museum, Folklore Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Cafer Pasha Mosque, Bellapais Abbey and St.Hilarion Castle.

A short drive into the mountains, lies the fairy-tale castle of St.Hilarion. Rumoured to be the original inspiration for Walt Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty'. St Hilarion was built during the crusades and a long walk to its battlements will be rewarded with stunning views of Kyrenia and the whole of the island's northern coastline.

Bellapais

This historic village is located about 3 miles to the west of Kyrenia in an elevated position with wonderful views to Kyrenia and the coast. The village is dominated by Bellapais Abbey which was originally founded in the twelfth century by monks of the Augustinian order and is the most impressive Gothic building in Cyprus. The abbey is situated on a natural terrace overlooking the village of Ozankoy with a good selection of restaurants with local and international cuisine.

The author Lawrence Durrell once owned a house in the Village and immortalised Bellapais in his book 'Bitter lemons'. In his book he mentions the tree of idleness which can still be found on the corner of the road in front of the Abbey.

Bellapais is an ideal starting point for hill-walking.

Famagusta (Gazimagusa)

Founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt in the 3rd Century BC. Originally a fishing village Famagusta was grown by the influx of refugees first from Salamis in 648 then by the Christian Refugees after the invasion of the Holy Lands.(1291 AD). It soon became one of the most important and wealthy cities in the region. At one time (early 14th Century) about 350 churches and many trading posts were built within the area later fortified with impressive defensive walls by the Venetians.

In 1372 The Genoese invaded the island and the City sacking most of its wealth. In 1571 under the long siege by the Ottoman Turks many buildings were damaged by the cannon balls. The British used the stones to build the Suez Canal and the Quays of Port Said. In 1974 the City was again under siege by Greek Cypriots, with 11,000 Turkish Cypriots defending the City until it was ended by the arrival of the Turkish Troops. The important Historical monuments worth visiting are: The Walls and Bastions, Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Nicholas Cathedral) Othello Tower, Remains of Countless Mediaeval Churches. Salamis, Kings Tombs, St. Barnabas Monastery, The Ruins of Enkomi. The visitor will enjoy many fine beaches stretching miles along the coast of ancient Salamis.

Nicosia (Lefkosha)

This is the capital of Northern Cyprus and is where the main administration and business centres are to be found. Nicosia has a population of approximately 35,000.

The foundation of the city dates back around 2250 years and it is now the capital of the island with a population of around 110,000 and was developed mainly during the Lusignan period. The city is divided into Turkish and Greek sectors by a boundary known as the green line which runs in an east - west direction. The ramparts, which were built by the Venetians in 1570 to protect the city from the Turks, are thick and high. They encircle the city and are 4.5km in length with 11 towers. Inside the city walls are numerous remains of the Middle Ages and later periods.

Outside the walls are no remains whatsoever of the Middle Ages since materials from building outside of the walls have been used in the restoration of the ramparts at various times. Inside the city walls are beautiful examples of Gothic and Ottoman architectural forms, among which are the Selimiye Mosque (St.Sophia Cathedral), Bedesten (covered bazaar - St. George Cathedral), a Lapidary Museum set in an old Venetian house and an obelisk, while belonging to the Ottoman period are the Arabahmet Mosque, the Buyuk Han (Grand Inn), the Kumarcilar Han (Gamblers` Inn), the Sultan Mahmut II Library, and countless other monuments. Like the other towns of Cyprus which remained under Ottoman rule for more than 300 years, Nicosia too is typically Turkish in character.

For more information on places to see in Northern Cyprus it is worth visiting  the Cyprusive web site:

Cyprusive web site places to visit

Cypnet web site places to visit

(Click on cities in list to see details)

The Buyuk Han (Big Inn)  in Lefkosha

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