Esentepe, North Cyprus

Esentepe, (meaning windy hill), is a village located on the north coast to the east of Kyrenia probably dating back to the Byzantine era when the village was first established.

If you’re looking to leave the hustle and bustle of Kyrenia behind and you want to venture out further into the ‘real North Cyprus,’ then head east along the coastal road and you’ll come to pretty Esentepe – your gateway to the Karpaz region, the coast and the foothills of the Kyrenia range.  At its centre is a charming old village, which is so laid back it makes you want to sit down and while away the day over a coffee or perhaps a glass of local wine! The central village population is mainly made up of mainland Turkish people from the Black Sea region, who moved to North Cyprus post 1974.

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Karaman, North Cyprus

The extremely attractive and peaceful village of Karaman, (or Karmi, which is the Greek name for the settlement), sits around 1,000 feet above sea level and is located on the lower slopes of the Kyrenia mountain range.  The gothic castle of St. Hilarion sits majestically above it, and is easily viewed from any spot in the village.

To visit Karmi take the coastal main road from Kyrenia until you reach Karaoğlanoğlu, and take a left turn signposted for Edremit and Karaman.  You will make your way up the mountain passing through the village of Edremit and its popular little Basket Shop, up past the small and private Hilarion Holiday Village and then Treasure Restaurant, bending round sharply to the right, and then on into the village.

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Ozanköy, North Cyprus

Located around 3 miles East of Kyrenia, Ozanköy, (previously known as Kazpahani), is one of the prettiest villages in Northern Cyprus and is home to a small but truly multi national population – it has a real community feel to it.  It is easy to find, being signposted from both the west and east coast roads, as well as from the centre of Kyrenia town from where it is about a 15 minute drive.

Despite Ozanköy’s lowland setting it does not detract from the fact that it has one of the best views of the Bellapais Abbey which sits precariously high above the village on a natural plinth on the mountainside.  At night time when the Abbey is all lit up it’s a favourite sight for visitors and residents of Ozanköy alike.

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KARPAZ, North Cyprus

The Karpaz peninsula is located on the far eastern stretch of North Cyprus, and it stretches right up to the tip of the peninsula, it’s often referred to as the ‘panhandle.’  You may even hear or see the peninsula being called Karpasia, Karpas, Kirpasha, Carpasia or Dipkarpaz – in fact Dipkarpaz is a present day town, and Carpasia was the ancient city where the ruin of Ayios Philon stands.  It was once a very densely populated area during both the Roman and Luisignan times, but now it is far less so.

The Karpaz peninsula has some breathtaking beaches, wonderful walks and is littered with ancient churches, monuments, remains and ruins.  Part of the area is also now a designated National Park, where feral donkeys are allowed to roam free and nature is pretty much left alone.  The Karpaz is also largely an agricultural area producing crops, and you will find that most local inhabitants have animals and land, but tourism also obviously plays a large part in the economy too.

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GÜZELYURT, North Cyprus

Güzelyurt is almost the last major town on North Cyprus’s north west coast – although Lefke sits slightly further west and inland.  You will also find Güzelyurt referred to as Morphou, which is the Greek name for the town.  The translation of Güzelyurt depends on the sources you read and the people you speak to, but it basically means ‘beautiful native country’ or ‘fatherland’ – while neither is a perfect literal translation, both meanings get right to heart of the matter and that is that Güzelyurt and the surrounding villages in North West Cyprus are stunningly beautiful, rich and fertile.

Güzelyurt is said to have been inhabited since Bronze Age times, and it was also a major centre for copper mining during its history.  Today, it is more commonly associated with being the citrus growing centre of North Cyprus.  Under the British rule the town was also a major part of the transportation network, it was connected by rail to Lefkoşa and Famagusta  mainly for transporting of copper.

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Koruçam, North Cyprus

Koruçam, (pronounced Korucham), or Kormacit in North Cyprus is located in the Güzelyurt region on the north west coast of the island and it lies slightly inland in between the villages of Kayalar and Çamlıbel.  It is mainly a Maronite settlement with people from the Greek Orthodox Christian faith making up the majority of the population.  Koruçam seems to sit in a basin, so a short walk above the town will give a good view of the surrounding areas, and you can also see out to sea.

Koruçam can be reached by travelling west on the coast road, turning right at the signs for Kayalar, and following the scenic coastal road before turning left inland at signs for Koruçam, or alternatively follow the main mountain road for Güzelyurt and turn right at the signs for Koruçam.

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FAMAGUSTA, North Cyprus

Famagusta, situated on the south east coast of Northern Cyprus, is a place where you can really feel the magic of Cyprus’ colourful past; so much so that when you visit you feel as if you can almost reach out and touch the island’s rich history.

You will also hear and see Famagusta being referred to as Mağosa, Mağusa or Gazimağusa (Gazi meaning unconquered).

Once one of the world’s most famous and richest cities when it was under the rule of the Lusignans, Famagusta is also rich in architecture from the Venetian period when it was fortified against the invading Turks.

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Boğaz, North Cyprus

The pretty coastal harbour town of Boğaz is located on the south east coastal road next to the main town of Iskele in North Cyprus.  It can be reached from Kyrenia for example by the Gecitkale road via Lefkoşa, you turn left at the coastal junction and then just a few miles afterwards you will find the town as the road narrows as you’re passing through it.  Alternatively, for a more scenic journey take the north west coast road from Kyrenia via Esentepe, turning inland at Mersinlik or Kaplıca, and following the signs for Iskele and Boğaz.

Boğaz, whilst a small town, is a bustling place and is home to a pretty harbour, some small hotels and b&bs as well as harbour restaurants, with fish obviously playing a large part in the menu on offer at any establishment!  It’s a pleasant place to while away a day, and has some nice little stretches of beach either side of the town to enjoy.  The quayside of the harbour is also a busy little place with pleasant well-tended gardens that are a joy to visit.

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Iskele, North Cyprus

The town of Iskele, (also known as Yeni Iskele or Trikomo), is located on the south east coastal area of Northern Cyprus and on the main road which heads towards the Karpaz Peninsula area.  It’s close to  the harbour town of Boğaz, which is a very pretty old fishing village that still retains some of its authenticity whilst also being able to accommodate tourism.

Iskele can be reached by the Gecitkale road via Lefkoşa, turn left at the coastal junction and after just a few miles you will find the town.  Alternatively, for a more scenic journey from Kyrenia, take the north west coast road via Esentepe turning inland at Mersinlik or Kaplıca, following the signs for Iskele and Boğaz.

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Religion in North Cyprus

Although North Cyprus is a completely secular state, with therefore no official religion, it is predominantly populated by people of the Islamic faith.  However, there are other religions and ethnic groups which are active on the island, and are descendents from the various cultures that make North Cyprus such a mixed and special place to be.

Muslim

Islam in Cypruswas introduced when Uthmanthe 3rd Caliphconquered Cyprus in 649.  Turkish Muslims then settled in Cyprus during the Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878.  The Ottoman Empire gave land grants to its soldiers under the condition that they and their families would stay there permanently. [Read more...]