North Cyprus Museums

North Cyprus is an historical wonderland, having its past steeped in legends and the influence bought about by many different civilisations and nationalities.  If you are interested in learning more about the island’s past then there are numerous ways to go about it.

One way is to visit the museums in North Cyprus which can be found dotted around the cities and major towns, some of which are housed in the historical buildings themselves.  You can find out about shipwrecks, excavation discoveries, folklore and much, much more.

In this article we will detail some of the major museums in each area which really must be visited if you’re interested in the history of Cyprus.

Lefkoşa

Mevlevi Tekke Museum (Museum of the Whirling Dervishes)

Located on the left hand side just as you have passed through the Kyrenia Gate leading into the city of Lefkoşa is this six domed building.  Built back in the 17th century it was originally a monastery of the dervish (meaning humble) sect, which was subsequently banned by Ataturk in 1925.  Here you can see the original dance floor that was used, as well a range of cultural memorabilia and ruins such as pillars and gravestones from the Roman and Ottoman periods.  You can also see the whirling dervishes perform at certain times of the year here too.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Mevlvi Tekke Museum, Lefkosa

Mevlevi Tekke Museum, Lefkosa

Library of Sultan Mahmoud II

Located within the Bedesten (covered market) is this domed room within the wonderful rectagonal building.  The architecture of this building is superb and is decorated with calligraphy and friezes in blue and gold.  It also houses around 1,700 books, some of which are over 700 years old!

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Dr Fazıl Küçük Museum

A local Turkish Cypriot born in 1906 who became famous both as a physician and the first Vice President of Cyprus upon independence from British rule in 1960. He formed his own political party and newspaper, Halkın Sesi, and this museum is dedicated to his memory and is also where he lived and worked. You can see his study full of books and journals as well as the patients waiting and treatment rooms, but the museum is actually still used as a research office too, so opening hours cannot be set in stone!

Bedesten Museum of Statues

This is a very small museum attached to St. Nicholas Church, which was originally constructed during the British rule. Here you can see medieval grave stones and statues, and it also houses a room for actually making statues too.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Dervish Pasha Mansion (Ethnographical Museum)

This building located in the centre of Lefkoşa in Belig Pasha Street, is one of the few remaining examples of Ottoman architecture and is now home to a wonderful array of artefacts and examples of glassware, clothing, metal-ware, agricultural tools and much more.  It really does house some very fine examples of Ottoman culture and is well worth a visit.

Opening hours are 9am-1pm, 2.30-5pm Monday – Friday and on Saturdays 9am-1pm.

Museum of National Struggle

Built as a reminder to the people with regard to the struggles of Turkish Cypriots from the late 1800’s to the recent day, this museum features various artefacts since the British rule up to the divide of the island after EOKAs attempt to rid themselves of the British and Turkish Cypriots and annexe themselves to Greece. You can see weapons used by both sides, as well as various tanks and armoured vehicles. You will need to take identification such as your passport as this museum is located within a designated army area.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

The Museum of Barbarism

This is one of the very few places in North Cyprus which shows the horrendous effects of the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.  This is a house located in the Kumsal District of the city and it was the home of Dr. Nihat Ilhan, an army major who was serving in the Cyprus Turkish Contingent in 1963.  This museum depicts the story of how his wife and three children were brutally murdered in their bathroom where they had sought shelter from Greek Cypriot fighters.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Lapidary Museum

Located a short walk from the central Selimiye Mosque, this is a museum housed in 14th century Venetian home and is full of pieces recovered from demolished buildings, many of which were destroyed during the Venetian period.  You can see stained glass gothic style windows, sculptures, stone gargoyles, marble carvings and much more.  It’s a very interesting place to visit as it gives a real feel of the city’s history through the ages.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

 

Kyrenia

Shipwreck Museum

Housed in Kyrenia Castle in the harbour area of the town, this is a fascinating insight into a shipwreck salvaged back in 1968.  Believed to be over 2,300 years old this ship was found to have been carrying cargo from Greece containing amphorae (pottery) and millstones.  You can see the remains of the 27ft long boat along with many of the salvaged items such as jars of almonds, all very well preserved.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Folk Art Museum

Located in the harbour area again, this museum is housed in an old granary building and has been used to reconstruct a traditional Cypriot house displaying various tools, furniture, embroidery and carvings.  It gives an interesting insight into the simple everyday life that was the norm of days gone by.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Icon Museum

Icon Museum, Kyrenia

Formally known as the Archangelos Church, this pretty and well preserved building on the western end of the harbour now houses various decorated icons and rich paintings from various periods gathered from various churches and displayed here.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Fine Arts Museum

Located on the western side of Kyrenia, this building was originally built in the 1930s by a wealthy Brit and is now home to paintings from Europe, oriental art, porcelain and embroidery.  Note that this is not a museum for all things Cypriot!

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

National Archives

Whilst not exactly a museum as it used for research, this valuable building is home to many historical documents dating back to before the Ottoman era.  The public are welcome to visit and you can find it located on the main road heading east out of Kyrenia toward the new harbour roundabout.  You can see some of the books which have been preserved from the Sultan Mahmoud II library in Lefkoşa as well as documents from the British Colonial rule.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Peace & Freedom Museum

This small museum is located on the main road heading west from Kyrenia next to the Freedom Monument, erected to honour the Turkish landings in 1974.  Here you can see some of the weapons that were captured from Greek Cypriot fighters, uniforms and other remnants of the struggle.  It also tells the stories of some of the Turkish soldiers and sailors who lost their lives in the intervention, including that of Col. Karaoglanoglu, who now has the neighbouring town named in his honour.  Outside the museum there is also an interesting collection of tanks and personnel carriers and other weaponry which had been abandoned after the borders were drawn.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

 

Famagusta

Namik Kemal Dungeon & Museum

This is a museum dedicated to the Turkish poet Namik Kemal who was exiled to Cyprus in the 1870s after having insulted the incumbent Ottoman Sultan.  He spent some of his 38 months within a dungeon in the remains of a Venetian Palace which was turned into a prison during the Ottoman era.  Here you can see where he was imprisoned and the remains of the prison.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Djanboulat’s Bastion (Arsenale) and Museum (Canbulat Museum)

This museum can form part of a visit to Othello’s Tower, and it is dedicated to the famous Ottoman officer who managed to defeat the Venetians by flaying himself and his horse onto a wheel of knives which protected the entrance to the city, thus allowing the Ottoman army to enter the walls of Famagusta during the invasion in 1570.  His tomb is located within the Bastion and you can also see plans of a planned siege in 1974 as well as examples of Cypriot culture.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

 

Güzelyurt

Archaeology and Nature Museum

A fascinating museum located in the centre of the town, it features various artefacts from the surrounding areas from as far back as the Neolithic period.  You can see examples of jewellery from the Byzantine era, pottery and bronze-ware

Archaeology Museum, Güzelyurt

from the late Bronze Age, and much, much more.  It’s a very interesting visit, not least because of the ground floor exhibits featuring two headed lambs and various other strange animal mutations which have been stuffed and preserved!

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

 

Iskele

Icon museum

This little gem is located on the exit from Iskele to Gecitkale.  Formally the Panayia Theotokos church and built in the 12th century, it is home to some original and well preserved frescoes and various other more modern icons.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

 

Salamis

St Barnabas Monastery

This is a well preserved church building built in honour of St Barnabas, a Salamis born Christian who died a martyr in his birthplace.  He was said to have been one of the founders of early Christianity who spent his life travelling the world to preach and spread the word of religion.  Here you can see frescoes, sculptures, icons and other artefacts from various places in the surrounding areas, some dating back to the 2nd century.

St Barnabas Monastery, Famagusta

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

Icon Museum

Previously the Agios Ioannis Church, this is museum features a range of around 120 different icons from various periods such as the 18th century, and items have been collected from a variety of churches in the surrounding area.

Opening hours are 09.00-14.00 in summer and 09.00-13.00 / 14.00-16.45 in winter.

If you would like to learn about more places of interest, the regions mentioned, or are interested in going on a tour of some of these museums, please check our related article for more information as well as following any of the links within the article.

Comments

  1. It is very helpful to have the details you give of the opening times of sites. However, they all have “summer” and “winter” hours and you don’t give dates. I am taking a group to Northern Cyprus from 21-28 March and would like to know whether that counts as summer or winter for the purpose of opening times. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      Hi there Stephanie – we would like to able to give you concrete facts but they so sometimes differ which is why we don’t list the months! However, you should safely assume that toward the end of March you should be fine – April really is the start of things in North Cyprus and finishes around end of September to mid October. Officially winter starts at the end of October but some of the museums won’t be open until then. Hope this helps. Ed

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