Fancy a bit of a shopping trip whilst visiting North Cyprus? Why not make a visit to Arasta in the heart of the walled city of Lefkoşa to experience some modern shopping, located in a wonderfully historical location! Arasta is located at the top end of Girne Caddesi which is the main road leading up from the Kyrenia Gate – keep walking and you will come upon it one way or another! You will know you have arrived when you enter a vibrant and busy shopping district.
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.
One must see on your list of historical sights in North Cyprus should definitely be the ruins of Salamis in Famagusta, not just because it’s a great place to walk around and explore but also because it is undoubtedly the most important archaeological site on Cyprus to have been unearthed to date. Spanning at least one square mile, only a small part of the area has been excavated so far and it is believed that up to 90% is still lying underground.
Recently when thinking about going for a day out, and then finding that it was the afternoon before we actually committed to doing something, a friend suggested we take a trip to the Lambousa tombs and the surrounding areas, which are still very much intact and an interesting site to spend some time exploring.
You can find the ruins of Lambousa by taking the main coastal road from Kyrenia to the west towards Lapta, and upon seeing the signs for the now closed
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.
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.
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.
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.