Famagusta – Time Travel in a North Cyprus Car Hire
The ancient city of Farmagusta provides some of the finest maintained and restored architecture from medieval times to be found in the entire eastern Mediterranean region. The city’s remarkable reminders of ancient days are exhilarating and remind many travelers of some of the world’s best maintained medieval cities.Although the early history of the town remains shrouded in mystery, many historians believe the first settlements occurred here around the 3rd century B.C. Later, during the time of the Crusades, the town became a principal market of commerce located along the popular trade routes through the Eastern Mediterranean region.
North Cyprus Car Hire – Things to See in Famagusta
Much like the walled city of Carcassone, France, the ancient city of Farmagusta remains encircled by the defensive walls that were originally built in the 12th century by the Lusignan family of western France. Later, while the city was under the control of the Venetian forces, the walls were improved and strengthened. These walls are huge, averaging 60 feet high and 30 feet thick or 18 meters high and 9 meters thick. One particularly interesting section of the wall is the original 15th century iron covered gate to the city, Porta del Mare or Sea Gate, that still maintains its original appearance. The Venetian control over, and improvements to, the town are evidenced in the statue of the winged lion of Venice that can be seen at the Porta del Mare as well as prominently elsewhere throughout the old town. The largest medieval building in the city is the impressive Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque building that dates from the 14th century. This building was the Cathedral of St. Nicholas until the Ottomans conquered the island in the 16th century and converted the cathedral to a mosque. Many visitors have noted that the style of the building is reminiscent of the great medieval cathedrals of France. This is not an unexpected comparison since French families ruled the island of Cyprus from the 12th to the 15th century and it was here in the cathedral that various French family members were crowned as King of Cyprus. This French influence is also obvious in the great rose window that is located above the building’s main entry doors.
Today, located just south of the old town, the forbidden city of Varosha can only be seen through the wire fence that surrounds it. Prior to the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish forces in 1974, this modern Varosha neighborhood of Farmagusta was the number one tourist area in Cyprus. Many high rise hotels had been built here to accommodate the large number of international travelers that visited the city in the early 1970s. But when the Turkish army seized control of the city in 1974 they fenced the area off and no one was admitted. Even today only members of the Turkish military and United Nations personnel are allowed to enter the abandoned city. After 34 years of abandonment the once-modern buildings are nowfalling apart and many stores and restaurants look as if they were just abandoned, with tables still set for diners and clothing still on the shelves.
North Cyprus Car Hire – Things to See near Famagusta
One advantage of having a North Cyprus car hire is that it gives you the ability to visit more remote sites that are located near larger towns like Farmagusta. For example, the excavated ruins of ancient Salamis are located just a short drive up the coast and include a Greek theater that seated as many as 20,000 people as well as many Roman structures and classical monuments. Another outstanding site in Salamis is the 4th century Kampanopetra Basilica located at a spot near the harbor and overlooking the sea. The Basilica’s elaborate floor pattern, consisting of 2,400 individual diamond shaped stones, is exquisite. This important city of ancient Cyprus may have originally been settled by Greek colonists following the end of the Trojan War. Later, it was visited by Saint Paul during his first journey as a missionary.
With your North Cyprus car hire you can also visit the nearby ruins of Engomi, a powerful city that existed during the Bronze Age around the year 2,000 B.C. Treasures that have been recovered from the tombs found here have included gold and ivory as well as glass vases and rare pottery. The settlement of Engomi is believed to have been abandoned around 1000 B.C. when an earthquake destroyed many of the buildings and the residents moved to the nearby town of Salamis. Whether walking through the city of Farmagusta on foot or driving through the surrounding area in your North Cyprus hire car, the time spent in this fascinating town of ancient Cyprus may be the highlight of your trip to North Cyprus.