Northern Cyprus Cities - Famagusta


In many ways, the walled mediaeval city of Famagusta encapsulates the history of Northern Cyprus. One of the finest examples of mediaeval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean, it rivals the old cities of Carcassonne and Dubrovnik.

Few written records of the city's history remain, but some believe it was founded as early as 285 BC. By the fourteenth century, it was one of the eastern Mediterranean's main market towns and a focal point for a number of Christian denominations during the Crusades. Throughout the Middle Ages it was fought over by Genoese and Venetian merchants and then became part of the Ottoman Empire after a year-long siege in the late sixteenth century and remained so until 1878 when it passed under British rule until 1960.

In many ways, Famagusta is one large outdoor museum. The Harbour Citadel, better known as "Othello’s Tower” is the best way to get a view of the city. Churches still remain, left in ruins after the Ottomans arrived, many of them were converted into mosques but can still be visited. For example, the great cathedral of St Nicholas is now the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque in the centre of the city.

The new town of Famagusta has grown beyond the old walled city and is now home to Cyprus's oldest and largest university, the Eastern Mediterranean University.

Famagusta is a shoppers’ haven with many stores and small artisan shops in the old city. In scenes that can hardly have changed in centuries, you can stroll through the mediaeval city looking for souvenirs or trinkets, sip Turkish coffee or just wonder along the Laguna Beach Marina at sunset.

Outside the town, apart from the golden beaches, you can explore the extensive ruins of the Roman town of Salamis, discover the Karpas peninsular and its famous wild donkeys and the capital Nicosia is only a car ride away