Kyrenia Cyprus / Famagusta Cyprus / Güzelyurt Cyprus / Smaller Towns in Cyprus
Famagusta Cyprus is one of the most important, greatly fortified ports on the shores of the Mediterranean. Famagusta Cyprus the historical capital of TRNC, represents a walled town built on the ruins of the ancient city of Arseon, which itself was built to replace the city of Salamis. The city and the areas around it are covered with ruins of ancient and medieval civilisations. Famagusta Cyprus, as well as Kyrenia Cyprus, represents a sea-side resort with numerous beaches. Its population is 54,000.
The city is also home to the Eastern Mediterranean University. The current Mayor of Famagusta Cyprus (in exile) is Yannakis Skordis. Visit in Famagusta the ruins of Salamis city.
Famagusta Cyprus has a lot of names: Magosa, Magusa, Gazi Magusa. The town was known as Arsinoë (after Arsinoe of Egypt) in antiquity, then Ammochostos (meaning "hidden in sand") which is how it is today referred to in Greek. This name developed into Famagusta, used in Western European languages and the Turkish name of Gazi Magusa or Gazi Magosa (Gazi is a Turkish prefix meaning veteran or simply ghazi, given officially after 1974).
Famagusta Cyprus was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Arseon, which itself was built to replace the city of Salamis. Salamis is believed to have been founded in the 11th century BC. After the influences of the many conquering nations Salamis was abandoned in 648 A.D., and the population moved to Famagusta Cyprus.
During Lusignan rule Famagusta increased in importance in the Eastern Mediterranean due to its natural harbour, and the walls that protected its inner town. In the 13th century Salamis became a centre of commerce.
In 1291 an influx of Christian refugees fleeing the downfall of Acre in Palestine transformed it from a small fishing village into one of the richest cities in Christendom. Famagusta became the obligatory entry port for all commercial transactions between West and East. The wealth of Famagusta was proverbial between 1300 and 1370. In 1350 Ludolf of Sudheim was astonished by a local bride whose dress and jewellery ware were richer than those of all the brides of France put together.
In 1373 the Genoese invaded Famagusta by surprise, taking from the citizens everything they had, amounting to two million ducats. During the Genoese period, until 1464, the town was exploited only for military purposes and lost its role as a commercial centre.
In 1489 Famagusta was seized by Venice. The town remained being a military base. The Venetians brought a number of Venetian features to Famagusta Cyprus. The most important of these was the official symbol of the Venetian Empire - The Winged Lion to be found at the entrances of both the Othello Tower and the sea gate. But the magnificence and glory of Famagusta faded further, the town became very poor, and few merchants lived there.
In 1571 Famagusta fell to the Turks. The city resisted siege and bombardment for thirteen months, until finally it was occupied by the Turks. In the Ottoman period, the palaces and mansions were demolished and the commercial activity of the island shifted to Larnaca.
In the 17th century Famagusta was practically deserted. The Turks used to sell the materials of the houses; when one of the Pashas forbade them to sell the stones they satisfied themselves with carrying off the timbers until the time when the construction of Port Said, Larnaca and the Suez Canal brought a new demand for materials from the quarry that Famagusta had become.
Under the Turkish regime Christians were not permitted to live in Famagusta. Non-Islamic population inhabited the regions outside the city walls: the town began to develop in the lower and upper Varosha (Maras) districts. The Turkish population generally settled in the inner town while the Greek population settled in lower and upper Varosha.
During British occupation in 1878-1960, the port regained significance. The British set up an administrative base between the Turkish and Greek quarters. The enlargement of the town was increasingly centred around the Varosha district. New residential districts were built, incorporating new housing, commercial, tourist and recreational areas. Varosha developed into a fashionable tourist resort.
The city was also the site for a British internment camp for Jewish survivors of the Holocaust trying to immigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine.
Since independence in 1960 Famagusta had flourished both culturally and economically. The town developed towards the south west of Varosha as a tourist centre. By 1970 Famagusta Cyprus became one of the world's best-known entertainment and tourist centres, contributing greatly to the country's economic development. Apart from possessing over 50% of the total accommodation of Cyprus it also offered the most substantial deep-water port handling: 83% of the total general cargo and 49% of the total passenger traffic to and from the island. Besides, Famagusta Cyprus produced high quality products ranging from food, beverages and tobacco to clothing, footwear, plastics, small machinery and transport equipment.
The population of the town in 1974 was estimated to be around 60,000. The population reached almost 100,000 during summer tourist period with the influx of tourists mainly from England, France, Germany and Scandinavia.
Before the Turkish Army came to Famagusta in 1974, the town had been completely evacuated by its Greek population.
Varosha - the "Ghost Town"
The major part of the south town of Famagusta, Varosha, was sealed off by the Turkish army immediately after being captured and no one was allowed to enter that part of the town. Varosha became a closed-off military zone, which persists to this day. Today it is under UN-administration.
The term "ghost town" was used by a Swedish journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson, who visited the Swedish UN battalion in Famagusta port and saw the sealed off part of the town from the battalion's observation post. He wrote: "The asphalt on the roads has cracked in the warm sun and along the sidewalks bushes are growing. Today, September 1977, the breakfast tables are still set, the laundry still hanging and the lamps still burning. Famagusta Cyprus is a ghost-town".
Sites of Interest
The spectacular buildings give a fascinating insight into long-lost civilizations and include the Lala Mustapha Pasa Mosque (former St. Nicholas Cathedral), the church and monastery dedicated to St. Barnabas (not far away from Famagusta), the city's harbour, and much more.
The impression which is made by Famagusta harbour is reinforced by great citadel, otherwise known as Othello's Tower that reminds the visitors of the most famous play written by William Shakespeare.
Outside of the town you can visit two ancient towns, Enkomi and Salamis. Enkomi was one of the first settlements in the east of Cyprus, specialised in the production and export of copper during the Bronze Age. Salamis was the greatest commercial centre of the Emporium in the East during the Roman rule. In the 4th century A.D. it was destroyed by earthquake, and rebuilt by the Emperor Costantin who renamed the town into Costantia. In 648 it was destroyed by Arab invaders and has never been rebuilt.
To know more about the main sites of interest in Famagusta visit this page.