The nature and the locals of Northern Cyprus are still untouched by the tourism. Here are many reasons to see the lonesome island that takes life easy from its long beaches to fragrant orange orchards, from snowy mountains to green valleys, from quiet monasteries to mysterious castles, and from endless plains to remote villages…
Watch the old harbor from Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia is the tourism capital of Northern Cyprus. The coast that faces the Turkish coast, which is 70 kilometers away, has one of the best atmospheres of Mediterranean with its harbor resembling a horseshoe where Kyrenia Castle, cafes, restaurants, and old harbor structures that are turned into hotels are located. The harbor is the liveliest location of the city. The tourists and locals visit the place in the evenings, especially during summers. They sit at the waterfront cafes or restaurants and enjoy the view of the fishing boats.
Do not miss the chance to visit Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia Castle, which is located at one end of the harbor, is the most impressive structure of Kyrenia. In addition, you can take the best shots of the harbor from the castle. The most interesting artifact, which is on display at the castle, is a 2300 years old shipwreck. It was found under water which is 18 m deep and 1.5 km away from the cost in 1965 by a Kyrenian fisherman. The ship is made of Aleppo pine and displayed in a room where the air temperature is controlled carefully. It has been believed that it was a Syrian trade ship and sunk during a storm.
Watch north and south from Nicosia Palace Hotel
Nicosia is the world’s last divided city. Green Line divides the city into two sections as north and south. North is the Turkish side and south is the Greek side. When you look from the top of the Palace Hotel, it is possible to see the both sides. Nicosia is in the middle of the island and it is the trade and politics capital of Northern Cyprus. Northern Nicosia looks more modest when it is compared to the southern side that owns high buildings and a large population. The borderline, which is known as the Green Line today, has taken its name as the result of a British commander drawing the borderline with a green pen on a map.
Stroll around the historical neighborhoods of Nicosia
You should go sightseeing in Nicosia on foot. The most interesting places to see in Northern Nicosia are located in Korkut Efendi and Selimiye regions. There is also another region worth seeing in south where the shops and cafes close to the Green Line are and that part is closed to the traffic. Karamanzade and Arabahmet neighborhoods are also worth seeing. The Ottoman caravansaries Büyük Inn and Kumarcılar Inn are among the rare middle age structures, which were able to last until today. Restaurants that serve special Cyprus dishes, cafes, and handcraft shops are located around the beautiful alley of Büyük In. Bedesten (covered bazaar), which was converted from a 14th century gothic church, is right across the Belediye Bazaar. Another bazaar is called Kapalı Çarşı, which serves dishes from the Northern Cyprus cuisine. The structure is from the British colony period. Hagia Sophia Cathedral, which is known as the Selimiye Mosque today, is one of the most important gothic structures from the Lusignans period and it is a must see.
Become mesmerized by the Lala Pasha Mosque
If Kyrenia is the ‘tourism capital’ of Northern Cyprus, then Famagusta is the ‘history capital.’ This place is one of the most important Mediterranean harbors that are surrounded by walls. The St. Nicholas Cathedral, which is today’s the Lala Pasha Mosque, can be seen from anywhere of the old city in Famagusta and it is the best example of the Lusignan gothic architecture in Cyprus. The structure had been built for the crowning ceremonies of kings of Jerusalem between 1298-1326. It was called as Famagusta Hagia Sophia until 1954 but after that year, it was named after Lala Mustafa Pasha also known as ‘the Cyprus Conqueror.’ The square where the mosque is located is a lively location with its cafes and bazaars.
Watch Famagusta Harbor from the Othello Tower
The most mounting evidence to the long history of Famagusta is the magnificent protective walls that mark the borders of the old city. It is possible to observe this important and rich town by walking along the walls. The Othello Tower, which was built to extend the walls by Venetians in 1492, was actually built to protect the Sea Gate and the harbor.
Ride on a bike through the untouched Karpass Peninsula
Cyprus Island resembles a small saucepan and the handle of that pan, which is 180 km away from Kyrenia, is Karpass Peninsula National Park. This region, which is untouched since 1974, almost tries to reach Syria in the east. You can run into wild donkeys, herding shepherds along the way. The peninsula has vast plains, remote villages, a few huts, and quiet beaches that are preferred by turtles to lay eggs. This place has the best beaches and the sunsets of Northern Cyprus.
MEET WITH THE CYPRUS CUISINE
Before even you act to order, your table gets to be covered with appetizers in Cyprus: Cyprus olives marinated with garlic and lemon, tzatziki, pigweed pickle, sugar beets pickle, coriander seeds, and famous Hellim cheese. Molohiya is an herb that only grows in Cyprus and along the cost of the Nile. It has the smell of mint, looks of basil, and it tastes like okra. It is used in lamb, or chicken stews. Another interesting plant is called kolokas, which looks like celery roots and tastes like potatoes only it is sweeter than potatoes. Kolokas isn’t heard of much around the world except Cyprus. Stuffed squash flowers are among the famous appetizers. Cyprus women get up very early in the morning to pick them.
MAKE TIME FOR THE MUSEUMS
The museums that bring the history of Cyprus to light are worth seeing. The Dervish House that is open to visitors as a Dervish Museum today, Dervish Pasha Mansion Ethnography Museum that was converted from Dervish Pasha’s mansion, Saçaklı Ev, Lusignan House in gothic style, and Barbarian Museum that is among the 260 Ottoman structures located in the city can also be seen in Nicosia. The Blue Mansion on the route to Güzelyurt that was built in 1965 belongs to a Greek named Pavilides that is originally from Italy and who is the lawyer of Makarios and the biggest guns trader of the Middle East. The Namık Kemal Prison and Museum, where Namık Kemal was kept as a prisoner for 36 years, faces the alley of the Venetian Palace in Famagusta.