CYPRUS TOURISM CENTRE
English Türkçe Greek German Spanish Italian French Chinese Russian Japanese Finnish Dutch Danish Portuguese Sweedish Hebrew Arabic Persian Polish Czech Norwegian Magyar
» Home
» Why Cyprus
» Holidays
» About Cyprus
» Getting to Cyprus
» History of Cyprus
» Things To Do
» Hotels
» Bars & Clubs
» Restaurants
» Beaches & Beach Clubs
» Places To Visit
» Car Hire
» Universities
» Short & Long Term Rentals
» Golf
» Events
» News
» Maps
» Images
» Properties in North Cyprus
» Contact Us
» Forum
» Blog
» Site Map
» Payment
 
 
 
 
       
 
 

Famagusta City-Walls
In the Lusignan period, Famagusta increased in importance to the Eastern Mediterranean due to its natural harbour and the walls that protected its inner town. Famagusta became the centre of commerce for both the East and West in the 13th Century. The belief that people’s wealth could be measured by the churches they built inspired the merchants to have churches built in carrying styles. These churches were the reason Famagusta came to be known as “the district of churches”. These churches still exist today and can be seen in the old town of Famagusta, near the harbour.
The city-walls built by the Lusignans were very high but thin and encompass the entire old city of Famagusta. The walls are punctuated by 15 bastions and gates. After the Venetians captured the island from the Lusignans, they brought over specialists from Venice to fortify the walls against artillery fire particularly to protect themselves from the Ottomans.
There is a big wall on the sea front, the Mantinengo bastion and the Kara (Land) Gate. These walls were built during the Venetian period. A ditch 46 metres wide was dug on the outer flanks of the wall and was filled with water. The wall built of ashlar is 3 kilometres in length and reaches 9 metres in width at some points. The city-walls have bastions, gates, ramps, embrasures, arms depots, depots and stables. The towers of the walls are as follows: · Arsenal (Canbulat) · Mare (The Sea Gate Bastion) · Castella (The Othello tower) · Signonia (The Ringed Embrasure) · Diamete (The Karpaz Bastion) · Mozzo (The Martyr Bastion) · Martinengo (Arsenal) · Pulacazaro · Moratto · Diocare · Ravelin (The Land Gate, The White Tower) · Santa Napa (The Golden Bastion) · Andurizzi (The water bastion) · Campo Santa (The Ringed Bastion) There is also the Othello building as an interior castle, the two original entrances; Ravelin (The Land Gate) and Porta del Mare (The Sea Gate). The Ottomans later restored the walls that were destroyed during the invasion of Famagusta.  

Churches in Famagusta
Famagusta became the centre of commerce for both the East and West in the 13th Century. The belief that people’s wealth could be measured by the churches they built inspired the merchants to have churches built in carrying styles. These churches were the reason Famagusta came to be known as “the district of churches”. These churches still exist today and can be seen in the old town of Famagusta, near the harbour.

Greek St. George Church
The architectural style of the church is a mixture of the Byzantine and Gothic styles. It belongs to the Orthodox order and was built in the 15th century. The church consists of a central nave flanked by chapels on either side with a three-part apsis at the end. The ceiling has Gothic vaulting. It is evident from the structure of the building that it was a bishopric church. The top part collapsed during the Ottoman siege in 1571. It is possible to see cannon marks on the walls
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Sophia Cathedral)
The building which was constructed between the years 1298-1312 in the Lusignan period is one of the most beautiful Gothic structures of the Mediterranean region. The Lusignan kings would be inaugurated as the King of Cyprus at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia first, and following this they would be crowned as the King of Jerusalem at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta. These ceremonies continued to be held until 1571 when the cathedral was turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks. The architecture of the western front of the building has been influenced by the architecture of the Reims Cathedral. It has an unparalleled window with Gothic style tracery. The 16th century Venetian gallery in the courtyard is today used as a reservoir for ablutions. A Venetian insignia can be seen above the circular windows at the entrance. The relief ornamented with animal figures is thought to have been brought from a temple in Salamis. The apsis of the cathedral is in the Eastern style and is composed of three parts as in most Cyprus churches. The windows in the top part have been well preserved. There are two chapels at the side. The cumbez tree in front -a tropical fig tree- is a rare tree in the north of the island. 

s3500090.jpgLatin St. George Church
Constructed in the late 13th century, the church is one of the beautiful examples of the Gothic style of architecture. Material from the Salamis ruins was used in its construction. It is thought to have been modelled on the St. Chapelle church in Paris. It has a nave with five sections and a chancel. The only part that has survived throughout the years is this chancel and the northern wall. The wide, tall windows once had Gothic traceries. That the church had been constructed before the city-walls is evident from the rampart like structure of the building. 

nestorian-church.jpgNestorian Church
Nestorian Church was built by a Syrian merchant for the Syrians living in Famagusta in 1339. There are frescoes of camels and texts in Syrian – the language used by the Nestorians in their religious ceremonies. The belfry and the attachments are later additions. The entrance is very plain with a pretty rose window over it. The vaulted ceiling is supported by pillars with ornamented shafts. 

The Panaya Kanakaria Church
Although there is no trace here of the first church thought to have belonged to the early Byzantine period, the second church is believed to have been constructed in the 5th century A.D. or early 6th century. The entrance section is separated into three sections by two rows of columns. The church was destroyed by the Arab pirates in the 8th century. A new one on stilts was constructed but as this one was destroyed as well in an earthquake in 1169, it was reconstructed as a multi-dome church which could only be completed in the 14th century. Some sections of the present church like the capitals of the columns and the apsis belong to the former buildings. The mosaics in the apsis representing Christ as a child sitting in Mary’s lap, surrounded with the archangel and apostles are some of the most noteworthy examples of early Byzantine art. Unfortunately, the part which shows child Christ, St. Mathews, St. James and the archangel is no longer there. The frescoes of the church and the mural of Mary have been made at a later date and restored several times. 

sinan pasha mosque.JPGSinan Pasa Mosque (St. Peter & St. Paul Church)
The inscription on the wall indicating that the church was constructed by a Syrian merchant named Simone Nostrano is thought to have been due to misinformation, as it is now known that the church had been built by a Nestorian Christian named Simon. It has survived the 1571 bombardment because of its strong structure. The North entrance with its unequalled masonry is thought to have been transferred from another place. The interior of the building is quite plain; the ceiling resting on pillars with a flat capital. After conquering the island the Ottomans started to use the church as a mosque. 

St. Francis Church
This church is part of a monastery built by the monks of the Franciscan order in the first decade of the fourteenth century. Henry II, the King of Cyprus, contributed to the construction of the building. It comprises a nave with three sections leading to a beautiful chancel

s3500299.jpgch-twintemplars00.jpgThe Twin Churches (Templar & Hospitaler Churches)
The larger of the two churches built in the 14th century belonged to the Knights Templars. When the last grand master and their other leaders were burned as heretics in 1313, the order came to an end and the church was left over to the Knights Hospitalers who owned the adjoining building. The building has been restored and is now being used by the Cyprus Art Society. 

The Land Gate (Ravelin)
It is one of the two original gates to enter the city. Its original name was ‘Ravelin’ which means ‘the demilune lunette - or the bastion in the shape of a crescent’. The Land Gate is the second oldest part of the walls after the Othello tower.

The bridge which is used today to enter the city is new. Before, the  entrance to the city would be through a cannon emplacement at the side of the gate. The original gate with a drawbridge was to the left of the entrance used today. On the front facing the city is an arched passageway. On either side of the passageway there are frescoes, insignias and a small church. As a result of excavations made here passageways, cannon emplacements and interesting sections and galleries have been uncovered. On the city front of the arched passageway, underground chambers used as dungeons in the Venetian period have been discovered. 

namikkemalmuseum01.jpgNamik Kemal Dungeon
The dungeon is situated in the courtyard of the Venetian Palace and has been constructed with ashlars. Namik Kemal, playwright and poet, stayed in this building for 38 months during his exile in Cyprus because of a play he had written criticizing the Ottoman rulers. The ground floor has a door opening to the courtyard of the palace and a window with grating. A steep ashlar staircase leads to the room on the upper floor in which documents belonging to Namik Kemal are being exhibited. This room has two windows.  

The Othello Castle & Tower
The castle was built by the Lusignans in the 14th century as a fort to protect the city from attacks and was being used as one of the main entrances to Famagusta. It is surrounded with a deep ditch. The castle comprises towers and corridors leading to artillery batteries.
Othello's tower in Famagusta.
Inside the caste, there is a refectory and a dormitory dating back to the Lusignan times. There are cannons, and iron and stone cannon balls belonging to the Spaniards and Ottomans in the castle yard. After Cyprus was conquered by the merchant city of Venice in the 15th Century, the Othello tower was rebuilt in 1492. The new rulers placed their insignia, a lion of St. Marcus in relief – the symbol of the city of Venice – above the entrance of the castle. The name Nicolo Forscarini and the year 1492 are inscribed below the lion. Forscarini was the captain whi was in charge of the rebuilding of the fort.  Part of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, ‘Othello’, takes place in a harbour town in Cyprus. The main character of the play, Othello, is introduced as an Algerian (Moor). The playwright is thought to have been misled by the name of the governor of the period: Christophora Moro. 

The Sea Gate (Porta Del Mare)
It is the second of the two original entrances to the city. It is well preserved and it has a beautiful architectural structure. It was constructed by the Venetian Nicolo Prioli in 1496. The gate with iron grating dates back to the Venetian period, whereas the wooden, ironclad gate was made by the Ottomans. Over the gate is the emblem of the Venetian Republic – ‘the winged lion’, the name of ‘Nicolo Prioli’ and his insignia and the year ‘1496’ carved on marble. The marble is thought to have been brought from Salamis. 

 Venetian Palace
The Venetian Palace was a royal palace built by the Venetians on the ruins of a palace built by the Lusignans in the 13th century. The front which has survived was built in the 16th century and the columns used here were brought from the Salamis ruins. On the arch in the middle there is an insignia belonging to the Venetian ruler Giovanni Reiner.

The Venetian Palace was destroyed by the Ottomans leaving only its grand facade intact. The castle was then used as a prison during the Ottoman Empire. Among the prisoners was Namik Kemal, the National poet of the Ottoman Empire, who was held there between 1873 and 1876, after having been exiled to Cyprus by the Sultan

 

Arsenal (Martinengo Bastion)
The bastion was built by the Venetian architect Giovanni Sammianelli from 1550 until 1559. Its walls are 13-20 feet thick. With its triangular design it is one of the good examples of military architecture. It is named after Martinengo, the leader of the Venetian reinforcement troops sent to the relief of Cyprus during the Ottoman siege.

In the vaulted chambers of the Bastion there are chimneys for gunpowder smoke to escape and for ventilation to take place. On its walls there are niches for gunpowder barrels and cannon balls. When commander Martinengo, the popular commander of the Venetian troops to Cyprus, died on his way to Cyprus, his body was brought to Cyprus and buried here and his name is given to the bastion. 
 Enkomi (Alasia)
The antique city of Enkomi, also known as Alasia, situated close to the present day Enkomi (Tuzla) village, dates back to around 2000 BC. The excavations have revealed that the city was under the influence of Egypt first, and Mycenae later, and that it was surrounded with walls, and the dead were buried under the floors of the houses with their death presents. It is observed that the grate plan was applied to the city and that writing was first used here. Copper was transported to Enkomi, were it was melted and shipped for export. At this time, the river was navigable, and Enkomi had an inland harbour.

The bronze "Horned God Statue" which seems to be under strong Hittite influence, and considered to be a cult statue was found in this district. About 1200 BC, earthquakes destroyed most of the city, but it was rebuilt. Most of the surviving ruins are from the rebuilt city, which never really recovered its ancient grandeur. The region was abandoned never to be used again, when the Pedios River (Kanlidere) flowing by the city filled the harbour with alluvia, and an earthquake in 1075 BC further raised the river bed. Its last inhabitants are thought to have moved colder to the sea to found Salamis.
Aphendrika
Aphendrika was known as one of the six important cities of Cyprus at the beginning of the 2nd Century BC. Research has brought to light the remains of citadel, a necropolis with rock-cut tombs, the site of a temple, and the ancient harbour of this settlement. By the 8th Century three new churches were built close to Aphendrika: Saint Georgios, Panaya Chrysiotissa and Panaya Asomatos.

By the 8th Century Cyrus seems to have recovered from the Arab raids, as three ruin groups of churches were discovered that were built in this period. The first of these is Saint Georgios which was originally a single-domed Byzantine structure erected in the 10th century. The Panaya Chrysiotissa was built in the 6th century. It was renewed at the end of the 10th century as its original wooden roof had been destroyed as a result of Arab raids. The church was destroyed once again during the middle ages and was reconstructed for the last time in the 16th century. The third church is in the best condition, the Panaya Asomatos church built in the 6th century. This church too was reconstructed in the 10th century after being destroyed during the Arab raids. 

Salamis Ruins
Salamis is one of Cyprus’ main archaeological sites, located about 9km north of Famagusta. The ancient city of Salamis was one of the 10 city kingdoms in Cyprus and goes back to the 11th Century BC. The founder of the city is Teucer– the son of Telamon who was a Trojan hero and the king of Salamis Island near Attica, who named it Salamis after his fatherland.


Image:Salamis kyprou.jpgFounded in the 11th Century BC by Teucer – the son of Telamon, who could not return home after the Trojan was because he failed to avenge his brother Ajax. The city rose to prominence in the 6th Century BC with a royal court and a mint of its own coins. The area of prosperity continues up until King Evagoras of Salamis loses control over the island around 300 BC to the Persians. Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire and took over the island. Ptolemy I of Egypt ruled the island of Cyprus and Salamis remained the seat of the governor. The Romans defeated Ptolemy I of Egypt. Salamis flourished again under the Romans from about 60 BC. Several earthquakes led to the destruction of Salamis at the beginning of the 4th Century. The town was rebuilt under the name Contstantius and became Episcopal seat, the famous of which was Saint Epiphanius. Emperor Contstantius II helped the Salaminians not only with the reconstruction of their city but also helped them by relieving them from paying taxes for a short period and thus the new city, rebuilt on a smaller scale, was named Constantia. Salamis was finally abandoned during the Arab invasions of the 7th Century A after destructions by Muawija. The inhabitants moved to Arsinoe (Famagusta).

Royal Tombs – Salamis Necropolis
The Salamis Necropolis covers an area of roughly 4 square miles and stretches from Enkomi to the West end of the Salamis forest and to the St. Barnabas Monastery. Because of the structural styles and the rich findings of some of the tombs that have been uncovered they have been named as the Royal Tombs. Their main architectural feature is the long, wide, sloping ground in front of the burial chamber. This is where the horses pulling the hearse were sacrificed in honour of the deceased, and earthenware jars of oil, wine and honey were lined. Studies indicate that the tombs were made in the 8th century B.C. and were used until the 4th century A.D. Tombs numbered 47, 50 and 79 in particular contained rich findings. The tomb numbered 50 was also used as a small church dedicated to St. Catherine. It is also known with the name ‘St. Catherine prison’ as St. Catherine is believed to have been kept here after converting to Christianity by his uncle who was the Salamis administrator. A lot of earthenware pots and pans, things made of bronze and ivory and the skeletons of the sacrificed horses have been uncovered during excavations

Cellarga Mass-Graves
The mass-graves are the mass necropolis of the poor people of the period. They constitute part of the Salamis Necropolis, and lie 500 metres to the South-east of the Royal Tombs. The area in which around 120 graves have been found is known to have been used between 8th century B.C. and 4th century B.C. The entrances to the tombs are closed with stone slabs; and there steps carved into the rock. New graves with chimney shaped zones were dug up on the area where the former mass-graves which were filled up in time used to be. They were not used after the 4th century B.C. The remains of animals, statues, pots and pans found among the ashes of the fires burnt in front of the graves suggest that ceremonies of sacrifice and feasts were held here.

The Nikokreon Monument
This monument which is within the Salamis Necropolis is thought to have been erected in the name of Nikokreon, the last king of Salamis. It is stated that Nikokreon chose to commit suicide rather than surrender to Ptolemaios. Before killing himself, he killed his wife and family, and set fire to the palace. In the middle of the platform that can be reached by climbing a set of echeloned steps, there is a kiln in which iron bars and statues made of stone and clay belonging to that era were found. The statues made of half baked clay have the characteristics of the late Classical Greek sculpture

The St. Barnabas Monastery
St. Barnabas is first mentioned in chapter 4 of the New Testament’s Act of the Apostles and in later chapters, as the story of these acts unfolds. St. Barnabas’ original name was Joseph, but he was renamed by the Apostles because Luke interpreted the word Barnabas as ‘son of encouragement’. St. Barnabas came to Cyprus in 45 AD to spread Christianity. Arriving at Salamis, they travelled across to Paphos, where Sergius Paulus was the first Roman official to convert to Christianity. In 50 AD St. Barnabas accompanied by St. Mark set up a base in Salamis. He is considered to be the first Archbishop of Cyprus.

St. Barnabas returned to Cyprus after his studies in Jerusalem and in 50 AD starts to work with St. Paul as a missionary for Christianity. By tradition, St. Barnabas is the founder of the Cypriot Church and legend asserts that because he was stoned outside Salamis by the Jews of Salamis. His burial site was forgotten for centuries, and while the site was a place of healing, no one knew why. In 448, St. Barnabas appeared three times in a dream to Archbishop Anthemius of Cyprus and told him where the relics were buried. On digging, Christians found the incorrupt body of the saint, with the Gospel on his chest. Based on finding the body of an apostle buried there, the Church of Cyprus was regarded as Apostolic and received the right of choosing its own head ('autocephalous').

The St. Barnabas Icon & Archaeology Museum
The St. Barnabas church has a rich collection of icons mostly dating from the 18th century. The basalt mill in the courtyard is from the Enkomi settlement and the other columns and stones are from Salamis. The rooms where the priests lived have been restored and turned into an archaeological museum. It is possible to see a variety of works of art from a wide range of historical spectrum from the Neolithic Period to the Roman period. Bronze and marble pieces are also being exhibited at the museum. 

Kantara Castle
The easternmost of the three castles on the Kyrenia Mountains, the Kantara castle, is about 700 metres above sea level and is well positioned to control the entrance to the Karpaz peninsula and The Mesaria plain. Although it is thought to have been constructed by the Byzantines following the Arab raids on the island like the other two castles, St. Hilarion and Buffavento, the written sources only make a mention of the castle in the year 1191, when Richard Lion-Heart captured the island. When the impostor king of Cyprus Isaac Comnenus was defeated by the former Palestine King, Guy de Lusignan, who submitted to Richard Lion Heart, took refuge in the Kantara Castle.

During both the Lusignan and Venetian periods Kantara Castle was frequently mentioned. The castle was involved in many battles during these periods. Although the Genoese conquer Nicosia and Famagusta in 1373, the castle stays in the hands of the supporters of the King of Cyprus, Peter I. It is known that, when the king’s brother, Prince John, escapes from captivity of the Genoese and takes refuge in the castle. The castle was surrounded with walls by King James in 1391. After the Venetians gained control of the island, this castle too loses its importance, like the other castles away from the coastline. The castle has sections like a defence line, dormitories, a cistern, vaulted rooms, and a signal tower

The Apostolos Andreas Monastery
The monastery, situated on the point known as the Cape of Saint Andrea, is dedicated to Saint Andrew (Apostle Andreas). According to the holy books, he was the first person to be called for induction to priesthood by Jesus Christ, His title was O Protoklitos meaning: ‘the one fist called’.

The monastery is one of the pilgrimage centres of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as the ‘Lordes of Cyprus’, served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing groups of volunteer priests and laymen.
The room under the modern church in which there are wells containing drinking water is thought to have been a chapel belonging to the old monastery buildings. On the bust in the courtyard of the monastery the monastery is stated to have been built by Pope Ionnis Oicoromus. A fortified monastery stood here in the 12th Century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lion Heart, though the chapel built in the 15th Century is the oldest surviving building.

The Kertikli Bath
The Kertikli Bath is a building to the North of the city constructed by the Ottomans. This bath is notable for its domes. The building comprises six domed rooms, a reservoir covered with a vault, and a section believed to be the dressing room, the ceiling of which has collapsed. 

The Aya Trias Bazilica
The Basilica dates back to the 6th century AD. Probably because it was destroyed in mid-7th century, a small church and some annexes were added to its southern flank. As these buildings were destroyed in the ninth and tenth centuries AD., this settlement abandoned. The basilica has three sections: to the west is the exterior, atrium; to the southeast are the annexes and the baptistery. The floor is covered with mosaics with motifs of geometric shapes, leaves and crosses. It is recorded in the inscription on the mosaics that they were made by Heraclos, one of the assistants of the priest. 

 The Ayios Philon Church
It has been constructed on ruins dating from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Philon is the saint who converted the people of Karpaz to Christianity in the 4th century. The church comprises a three-part apsis and a courtyard surrounded with columns. There are colourful mosaics on the floor. A domed church was built in the 12th century on the ruins of the old building destroyed by the Arab pirates. It also has a cistern and a baptising room. The region it is in is the vicinity of the town of Karpasia in the Phoenician period.

 The Canbulat Tomb & Museum
Canbulat, the Bey (a provincial governor in the Ottoman Empire) of Kilis, was included in the Ottoman forces that were going to conquer Cyprus. As he was extremely successful during the capture of Nicosia, he was appointed to the Ottoman army laying siege to Famagusta along with Iskender Pasha and Deniz Pasha. As he is believed to have been killed in the vicinity of the Arsenal Bastion his tomb is under this bastion. The building was restored in 1968 and the front section was turned into an ethnographic and archaeological museum.

 
   

 
Copyright © 2008 Cyprus Tourism Centre Privacy | Terms & Conditions