Büyük Han, Lefkoşa, North Cyprus

One historical sight that you have to see when visiting North Cyprus is the wonderful and vibrant Büyük Han in Lefkoşa. It’s one the main attractions for tourists, but also has its own local community feel, with residents and tourists alike spending time soaking up its unique atmosphere.

The Büyük Han (or Great Inn), located within the city walls, was commissioned by the first Ottoman Pasha to Cyprus, Musafer, in 1752, shortly after the Ottoman occupation of Cyprus. It was a familiar sight for travelling tradesman, as these types of Hans (Inns) were common in Turkey, especially in Anatolia. They were also known as ‘caravanserai’ which literally means a centre where people would commune. Apparently this Han is similar in design to only two others in the whole of Turkey, and is often compared with the Kosa (or cocoon) Han in Bursa.

[Read more...]

LEFKOŞA, North Cyprus

Lefkoşa, Nicosia or Lefkosia …all names for the last remaining divided city in the world, located in the centre of Cyprus.  Lefkoşa is a large city with many districts, and we’ll give you a brief introduction to the heart of the city and its history.

Lefkoşa has been the capital of Cyprus since the 7th century and was once a prosperous and prominent city for many.  Buildings, monasteries and churches have been built in a prolific fashion during the city’s long history, but Lefkoşa has also unfortunately been a place of many conflicts – such as the invasion by the Marmelukes in 1426 and the subsequent arrival of the Venetians.  They reduced the city in size and fortified it with the walls that still remain to this day.  In the process of altering the city the Venetians also destroyed many fine examples of architecture spanning hundreds of years, including the resting place of the Lusignan monarchs.

[Read more...]

Kalavaç, North Cyprus

Kalavaç is a neat little village to visit if you are aroundabout the Gecitkale or Ercan area, perhaps you may be on an airport run and fancy taking a detour.  It has recently been touted in the local media as one of several villages to undergo renovation and restoration with funds donated in 2006 by the EU Commission and UNDP (United Nations Development Project).

It can be reached along the Geçitkale to Boğaz main road, and you will see signs around 10 miles after turning off the main junction in Lefkoşa.  Turning left you travel up a long straight road through green fields (well it was winter when we visited!) and up into the village which itself sits on the lowland slopes of the Mesaoria Plain.

[Read more...]

KYRENIA, North Cyprus

Kyrenia, or Girne – Girne being the Turkish name for the town, although most people still call it Kyrenia – is probably the most popular town in North Cyprus, and it’s located in the middle of the north coast.  Kyrenia is where all visitors to the island are naturally drawn due to the famous pretty horseshoe shaped harbour, along which you’ll find many bars and restaurants, and which is dominated by an immense Byzantine castle.

It is said that the town was founded in the 10th century, and was called Corineum during the Roman period.  As can be seen by the many tall buildings surrounding the harbour, it was once a bustling trade port, the buildings used for storage of goods such as carob.  Under the British rule many improvements were made to the harbour area and also to the road system, allowing easy access through to Lefkoşa.  Kyrenia also boasts the New Harbour to the east of the town, which is a central departure point for passengers wishing to travel to and from Turkey. [Read more...]

Bellapais, North Cyprus

The village of Bellapais, (also known as Bellapaix or even sometimes Beylerberi), sits majestically on the slopes of the Kyrenia mountain range and can be reached from the eastern side of Kyrenia by turning right at the traffic lights and following signs for Doğanköy and Beylerbeyi.  It is about a 15 minute drive from Kyrenia.  You can’t really miss the village actually, given the sight of the glorious Bellapais Abbey sitting in the centre of it!

The outskirts of Bellapais are also home to the Early Bronze Age necropolis of Vounous, although this site has now been pilfered and robbed by many and is no longer really the experience it should be. [Read more...]

Çatalköy North Cyprus

Çatalköy, (meaning forked village), is located around 15 minutes to the east of central Kyrenia, and spreads from the coast right up into the low lying mountains.

Nowadays Çatalköy is a busy large town with a bustling centre, and it’s home to a number of expats who have fallen in love with this area and its surrounds.  It has expanded in recent years to incorporate a busy coastal road area with plenty of shops to cater for pretty much everything, the Malpas Resort Hotel has been built on its low lying mountain slopes, and the growing property market in the area has also seen its borders extend both to the east and west.  The town is also a popular place to eat out with several quality restaurants and bars, it is home to the well known Çatalköy Riding Stables, and it offers both peace and entertainment in equal measure.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

Lapta, North Cyprus

Lapta, or Lapithos, is located about 10 kilometres west of Kyrenia and the town actually begins just before you hit the main ‘Lapta strip’ on the coastal road.  It rises up into the mountains and is a local tourist hotspot with some excellent hotels and general accommodation options for visitors to North Cyprus.

The more modern side of Lapta is obviously the coastal section, home to a number of bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes and hotels.  You have casinos, water sports, beach access, live music and a really good holiday feel along the strip.  Tourists of all ages are very well catered for, and Lapta in this respect offers a lot of entertainment options.  During the main summer season the area triples its population, such is the popularity of the resort.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]