No, not an incorrect spelling of Ramadan which is the term most of us will recognise! Unfortunately we have not really been given an explanation of why it’s called Ramazan in North Cyprus – it just is! The month of fasting for all practising Muslims who choose to follow this religious event will culminate in family gatherings, visiting the graves of love ones past and generally having a few days holiday to get the body and mind back to its previous state.
Traditional Turkish Cypriot cuisine is full of healthy ingredients, and if you perhaps enjoy the thought of trying lots of different dishes in small amounts then you need to visit one of the many quality Turkish Cypriot restaurants so that you can familiarise yourselves with all the culinary options available, and rest assured there are many to try!
If you’re not familiar with Turkish Cypriot cuisine then you’re in for a treat as you will experience dishes influenced by Mediterranean, Southern European and Middle Eastern cooking, with plenty of variation to keep your interest going throughout the whole meal.
North Cyprus has a large festival scene, and there are more and more festivals being formed every year it seems! You can attend village festivals that play on the particular speciality that the village lends its name to, or you can feast on the international music and culture festivals at some of the great historical venues in TRNC.
The festival season spans roughly six to seven months of the year, with the first events being held around April time and the last ones finishing off in late October, early November. So you can try to catch one when you’re visiting, or even attend a few if you’re living here on the island!
Folk dancing has very deep roots here in North Cyprus and in fact, across Cyprus as a whole. The rich history of this island means that its culture and arts such dancing have been influenced by many centuries and the traditions of the latter are being kept alive and well with folk dancing displays being given to the pubic on a regular basis. Attend any of the yearly festivals and you will no doubt be treated to a wonderful example of traditional dancing.
Dances were usually performed on big occasions such as at weddings and harvest days, but because of their popularity with the visiting public, and due to efforts by local folk arts organisation HASDER, dancing has now become something of an international ‘sport,’ with folk dancing competitions taking place in TRNC in which countries from all over the world participate.
North Cyprus has a healthy regard for art, and perhaps due to the island’s centuries long history, there is a surviving enthusiasm for culture that has lasted down the ages, keeping it alive and well amongst the local population. What’s more, Cypriot art and culture is equally popular and of interest to visitors, and some of this interest has resulted in foreign artists producing their own books about art in North Cyprus.
Lefkoşa is the main centre for all things art related in North Cyprus, and you will find a host of galleries and exhibitions to attend in the city throughout the year. You can also find out about what’s on in the arts scene in Cyprus Today, which has its own culture reporter Heidi Trautmann who often enthuses about several exhibitions at once! You can find art exhibitions featuring everything from painting, sculpture, ceramics and photography, often with bi-communal participation confirming that art really does have no borders.
The village of Büyükkonuk, (formerly Komi Kebir), in North Cyprus is located in the lowland foothills of the Beşparmak mountain range on the far east of the island. It’s situated about 6km north-east of Boğaz, just before the start of the Karpaz Peninsula region. It is also a village of some note due to it recently being designated as an area for eco-tourism, and has subsequently even been filmed by foreign film crews for international culture programmes.
It is accessible from taking the very scenic coastal road past Esentepe and onto the partially finished new road which will take you to Kaplıca. You will then venture on to older roads turning right inland signposted for Büyükkonuk and Sazlıköy. Alternatively you can take the inland Geçitkale road to Iskele and Boğaz, turning left at the costal junction, following the coastal road for a few miles until you reach turnings for Tuzluca and Büyükkonuk.
We don’t mean to be pushy but we will say that you cannot come to North Cyprus and not partake of some traditional Turkish Cypriot meze! Meze is the mainstay of traditional cuisine in North Cyprus, and basically means appetisers or starters. More often than not, there is so much of it that depending on your own appetite, you may not require a main course!
Meze are served in various forms and variations all over the Middle East and certainly the Turkish Cypriot variety have influences which may be recognisable if you have ever eaten meze in another country. However, there are also some which are definitely unique to this part of the world. You will also find that depending on the time of year, the offerings will differ slightly due to the seasonal produce on offer, which is nice as you will know that everything is fresh to the table.
Cyprus has been an island invaded and inhabited by many different nations and people throughout its history, and as a result Cypriot cuisine owes a great deal to the external influences that have directly affected it.
Unsurprisingly most of the traditional food and drink in North Cyprus nowadays is very similar to mainland Turkish cuisine, though more modern European influences are now beginning to become apparent, as are Asian influences. You can also find traces of tradition in the food and drink of Northern Cyprus today from as far away as the Balkans and Northern Africa.