Famagusta Walled City, North Cyprus.
Famagusta in Northern Cyprus is a fascinating medieval walled city with oodles of charm and there is are lots to explore. When you enter the city you can’t miss the historic walled city of Famagusta with its mposing towers that encircle the old city and protect the harbour.
The Lusignan kings of Cyprus first built walls around Famagusta, then the Venetians improved them, possibly with the help of Leonardo da Vinci! These massive walls are eight metres thick and fifteen metres wide, with bastions and towers guarding very corner. The Turkish invaders who came in 1571 besieged the city and pounded it with cannon balls; you can still see these missiles littered around the old city amongst the ruins of churches damaged in the siege. The Turks found it tricky to breach the walls, defended by a large wide moat that you can actually drive along today.
The hungry and disease-ridden Venetians eventually surrendered, by waving a flag from the Ravelin, or White Tower, one of two entrances to Famagusta. The Ravelin houses the Akkule ören Yeri attraction, and kids will love the maze of corridors and guard rooms that twist and turn throughout the building. Look up, and you can see the smoke holes, where the bitter smoke from the mighty cannons escaped.
The best way to explore the walled city of Famagusta is on foot. As you wander amongst the narrow streets of the old city, every turn reveals a magnificent building or ruined church that bears the scars of that historic siege. It’s also a great way to shop where the locals do, or that unusual gift or holiday souvenir. Suddenly you emerge into the sunlight of the main square, so stop and have a real Turkish coffee at a café and admire the impressive former St Nicholas Cathedral, now a mosque. Walk towards the sea, and you can climb Othello’s Tower, and view the sea from the top of Famagusta’s walls.
Nicosia North Cyprus.
Nicosia, or Lefkoşa (called so by local Turkish Cypriot population), is the capital and the largest city of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It is situated at 35°10' north, 33°21' east, which is in the centre of the island, in Mesaoria plain. This geographical position has defined the destiny of Lefkosa as the economic, political, and cultural centre of the island. Nicosia hosts the main government headquarters and foreign representatives. It is also the seat for the United Nations and the European Commission offices. It is the most commercialized city of North cyprus. Most of the main business and organizations are based in the city.
Lefkoşa is currently the only divided capital city in the world, with the northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) parts divided by the "green line", a demilitarized zone maintained by the United Nations.
At present there are 3 main order crossings between South and North Nicosia. These borders are Ledra Palace check point (for pedestrians) and Lokmacı check point. Both borders are in the center of Nicosia and you can only cross on foot. Other check point is Metehan Border (Ayios Dhometios) which you can cross on foot and with motor vehicles.
It is necessary to have your passport/ID card presented to the authorities at the checkpoints. If you are an EU passport holder or have a visa to cross the border, you need fill a little white visa slip with your name, passport number and nationality, then you will be allowed to pass.
Kyrenia, North Cyprus.
Originally a small fishing village Kyrenia was founded in the 10th century BC and has developed and expanded into a beautiful and bustling harbour town - a perfect location for the first time traveller or regular visitor to North Cyprus. The horseshoe harbour with its bars, restaurants and colourful yachts dominates the town and is the heart of Kyrenia for both tourists and local alike.
The streets of Kyrenia are full of shops selling jewellery, wooden crafts, designer clothes as well as souvenirs to remind of your holiday in North Cyprus. A visit to the 7th century Byzantine Kyrenia Castle is a must as well as one to the world famous shipwreck museum located in the castle grounds where the oldest ever shipwreck to be discovered is on display.
A short distance from Kyrenia is beautiful monastery village of Bellapais with its fantastic panoramic views and the spectacular ruins of the 11th century Gothic Abbey where in the summer months an impressive classical music festival is held. Do not miss the bird watch view Kyrenia from here.
Named after a saint who escaped from Jeruslaem after the Arab conquests, St Hilarion Castle, which is a short distance from Kyrenia, offers the most spectacular views of both the mediterranean and the surrounding countryside. All the Kyrenia town centre attractions are easily accessible by foot and all other areas by taxi, dolmush (local minbus system) or by car rental.