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.
Once an EOKA stronghold, it is now home to a varied foreign population from Europe and North America. The once dilapidated and derelict properties of Karaman were taken under the wing of the Ministry of Interior and Housing in 1979, and were given away for nominal amounts to foreigners on a lease basis, in return for their restoration. Leaseholders were also subject to rules and guidelines to keep the village’s originality when restoring property. In the 1980’s the Ministry of Tourism took over the running of Karaman and the rebuilding of the village as a whole, they also took over the development of infrastructure such as the electric, mains water, street lighting and roads.
There are around 160 houses in the village, mostly now used as holiday homes or part time residences, although there are a few full time residents in Karaman. There are also still some freehold properties in the village, meaning that they had foreign pre-1974 title and as such are not subject to the same lease agreement. You will find that the ground floors of these houses in Karaman are often referred to as ‘donkey rooms,’ and indeed they were just that in times past! Being a mountain village, donkeys were a valuable source of labour, as well as heat, and they were housed on the ground floor overnight meaning their heat rose to keep those sleeping above warm.
The centre of the village houses an old Greek Cypriot Orthodox church, although it appears it was never consecrated as such. It is open to the public at various times of the year, such as at Christmas for carol singing and on some Sundays, but the local village shop may be able to open it for you should you find it closed when you choose to visit Karaman.
You can find local shops such as the village shop which also serves as social meeting place, providing postal services and internet access should the need arise when you are visiting. There is also the local pub, The Crows Nest, where you can view local art for sale whilst having a well-earned pint. A gallery opposite the shop sells locally produced art as well as photography prints by well-known Karaman resident and photographer Jean Clark.
There is also the Spot Bar which is open in the summer months, it has a wonderful view over to St Hilarion in the evenings. The central village restaurant is called Levant and it reopened in the summer of 2008 and has proved very popular with visitors and locals alike. It would also be worthwhile mentioning the Halfway House restaurant which is located on the main road just a short distance before the village, it’s run by a young Turkish Cypriot man, Mehmet and his mother, Yaşın. The Halfway House is a small but very popular eatery serving delicious mezes along with meat and fish dishes, all freshly prepared and very more-ish!
Karaman is an extremely popular place for those who wish to be away from the hustle and bustle of the main coastal towns, and it’s also a great place to stay for those who wish to be as close to nature as possible. There are plenty of walks to be had up into the mountains and across to the village of Ilgaz further west, but a stroll around the village, with its pretty individual houses, back streets and cobbled paths may be enough for some. The local pond, lovingly cared for by local residents, has its own colony of terrapins which are a delight to see if you can spot them sunbathing on the water lilies!
Needless to say that Karaman and its surrounds are a place where you can find a wide variety of flora, and its also a great place from which to see many of the migratory birds as they cross the Kyrenia mountain range as they head southwards in autumn.
Karaman is sadly however being slowly encroached upon by the inevitable property development, together with a new and rather unsightly restaurant, with developers keen to play on the village and its idyllic location to encourage property buyers to purchase nearby. However, the village itself will hopefully be allowed to retain its rustic charm and continue to attract visitors for years to come.
Hi All at Karaman-Karmi
Its sad to see the development at Karaman which was once the most attractive village in North Cyprus-it was unknown to most of the tourists who visited the trnc and those who found it were enthralled by its peacefullness and beauty. The renovation and reestablishment of the village as a whole should be allowed to remain unmolested by poltics and be protected ftom further development. Those who took the chance to live there and take up the task of restoring the village should be praised and protected.
well done and good luck for the future
hear hear Peter, well said!
We have visited Karaman for our holidays for past few years, staying in a villa near the old Treasure Restaurant.
We are unaware of the development referred to in the article and would be grateful if anyone could advise us where this development is taking place
Hi Peter – it is a development by Eurocoast, well respected developer here – it is now finished and is called Selvi Hill Village – it’s on the right hand side as you go up the last stretch of straight road before hitting Karmi itself. Pretty much opposite the Hilarion Holiday Village. Hope that helps! It’s not an eyesore actually, although its a big site they have tried to make it feel authentic as you might say! Ed
Was very sad on my recent visit to find the Treasure restaurant closed and up for sale as that is what we came looking for after our last visit about 20 years ago. Also the Crows Nest pub was shut when we visited. There was a nice little restaurant called Levant, I think. It is still a very beautiful village and I will visit again very soon I hope. I would very much like to stay there for a couple of weeks.
That’s a shame for you. Sadly Mustafa Şeker who ran the restaurant for years with an English lady Jan passed away in 2004 and it closed a couple of years later if we remember correctly. It is still for sale. Many a good night was had there as Mustafa was a great host.
Here here, many a wonderful night spent there. Mustafa, as you say, was a wonderful host. Karen
I visited Karaman a few years ago and went in to the Crows Nest.
What happened to the prevous owner Ginny Nye?
Hi there T Blowfield,
Sadly Ginny passed away a few years ago now. She had passed on her interest in the Crows Nest to a new owner prior to that.
Hi, I visited my Godparents, Gordon and Kathy NYE in the Karajan Village in 1993, Ginny and I were best friends. I knew that ‘Mr Gordon’ had passes away but had no idea that Ginny had also passed. Is it too much to hope that Kathy is still with us, she would be about 90 now.
Does their other daughter Georgina still visit the village?
I first visited Karaman in 1984, but haven’t been since the late 80’s. Barry and Judy ran The Crows Nest, The Treasure opened somewhere during that time and so did Spot. Cyprus has always held special memories for me having lived there as a child between 1971 and 1974. Karaman in the 80’s was a delightful gem on an island where tourism was already taking a stronghold. I would love to return but sadly fear I may be disappointed as inevitably there will have been building work. I am so pleased I visited this special corner of the earth when I did.
Thats lovely to hear Alison!! Judy has sadly passed away and Barry is now in the UK, but the pub is still alive and kicking! Indeed you will see a lot of change, sadly in the form of buildings, however, the village itself does retain its charm, although no one swims in the pond anymore! If you can get your hands on a copy, there is a wonderful book called From Karaman to Karmi which documents its history very well with loads of old photos and stories. Its a great read!