The Caretta Caretta Turtle

The Karpaz peninsula, north-eastern tip of Cyprus, is well known as a sanctuary for sea turtles. Indeed, every year from June to September, Karpaz beaches host the Caretta Caretta turtles (as well as Green turtles), coming ashore to lay their eggs.

The Caretta Caretta is a marine turtle also called loggerhead turtle. It weights an average of 105 kg for approximately 90 cm diameter.

Caretta CarettaIn the Mediterranean Sea, loggerheads mate from late March to early June. Between late May and early September, they come to Cyprus sandy beaches to lay their eggs. They can undertake very long trips to nest on the exact same beach where they were born.

Turtle at nightLaying eggs is a whole process for the Caretta Caretta. The female exits the water, slowly climbs the beach, and scrapes away the surface sand to form a body pit. With her back limbs, she digs a cavity in which the eggs are dumped. The turtle then covers the egg chamber and body pit with sand, and finally returns to the sea.

Turtle PitThe loggerhead sea turtle has a low reproductive rate; females lay between 4 to 7 times per season (with an average of 70 eggs each time) and then become quiescent, producing no eggs for two or three years.

Turtle LeavingIncubation lasts around 50 days. The female does not come back to the nesting place to pick the hatchlings. Instead, the baby turtles need to find their way to the sea themselves, drawn towards the brighter area over the water which is the reflection of the moon and star light. Unfortunately, artificial lighting often interferes with the hatchlings’ ability to reach the water edge. Overall, very few hatchlings survive.

HatchlingsCaretta Caretta turtles are protected in North Cyprus since they are classified as an endangered species, threatened by pollution and industrial fishing. For example, they tend to eat plastic bags, thinking they are jellyfish, one of their favourite meals. Turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls.

During summer, nesting beaches of North Cyprus are closed to public at night, for the turtles not to be disturbed by human activity.

Hatchling SeaIn Alagadi Beach (East of Kyrenia), a group of biology students is looking after the turtles during the nesting period. They ensure the nests are safe and help the hatchlings reach the sea. From June to September, at night, you have the amazing opportunity to watch the females nest, or to see the hatchlings get out!

© Olkan Erguler Bilisim Hizmetleri LTD

© Olkan Erguler Bilisim Hizmetleri LTD

Find all information on turtle watching on

Golfing in North Cyprus

Beginners, amateurs, pros … If you want to play golf, come to North Cyprus. And if you are not planning on playing golf, then you should, just so that you can enjoy the wonderful setting of Korineum Golf & Beach Resort, “the Mediterranean’s Golf Paradise.”

KorineumOpened in 2007 and designed by David Hemstock, the golf course offers not only a stunning 18-holes course but also a wonderful environment.  The golf course, spread over 65 hectares of olive, pine and carob tree scrubland, offers spectacular views over the Mediterranean Sea and Kyrenia Mountains, and this from every hole.

Here is how to spend the perfect day of leisure in a marvellous, yet tranquil environment.

Start with a champion’s breakfast in the panoramic Carob Island restaurant. Relish the breakfast buffet while watching the Five Fingers Mountain or the early golfers getting on the course.

10th GreenFilled with energy, visit the Pro Shop for check-in, pick your equipment, and get ready for a delightful day of golf activities. You will find everything you may need in the Pro Shop, from clubs and shoes to rent until the trendy polo you will take home as a souvenir from North Cyprus. Trolleys and buggies are, of course, also available.

Once fully equipped, what happens next depends on you.

If you are new to golf, you might need a good lesson to get familiar with the sport. Then, pass through the lush gardens to reach the Academy. Two teaching pros (Turkish, English and German-speaking) will turn you into a great golfer. There are several options for you to choose from, from a one-time lesson to full packages.

The Korineum Golf Academy also allows you to practice on the 34-bays driving range or on the putting, while enjoying the sea view. Beginners can also practice at their own pace on the 3 full-length holes of the Academy Course.

Driving RangeFinally, if you are an experienced golfer, just get on the course! Here are some of the characteristics of the 18-holes Korineum Golf course:

Handicap: Women 36, Men 28.

Greens: Average per green 500 sq. m.

Tees: Average 5 per hole, approximately 600 sq. m.

The fairways are challenging, undulating and strategically shaped. The bunkers are made of white sand and crushed marble. The landscape of the course is naturally levelled, providing a difference of 110m between the highest and lowest points of the course. The walking from Green to Tee is short, and the greens are marvellously contoured.

MapWhen time for a lunch break comes, head to the gorgeous à-la-carte restaurant in the Club House and have a good time with other golfers before getting back to the course. At sunset, take a seat on the Club House’s terrace and sip a beer or one of the best cappuccino on the island while enjoying the silence and the landscape.

If you came with non-golfers, do not worry about them; they will have plenty of activities to choose from. Between the nearby beach, the tennis courts (equipment as well as lessons are available), the swimming pool and the spa, they will enjoy the place as much as golfers do.

PoolAfter a nice dinner, you might want to enjoy live music in the Club House (once a week) or attend the entertaining Cypriot Night (in summer) with a show of traditional dance and music.

If you need accommodation, the most convenient is to stay at Korineum Golf & Beach Resort’s Boutique hotel (on the same site as the golf). The rooms are very comfortable and tastefully decorated and benefit from really still surroundings. Wake up the next day with the sunset over the Mediterranean through your window, and start a new day of golf!

If you come at some particular time of the month, you may assist or take part to one of the many Open Tournaments. Every year in September, a Golf Festival is held, during which several tournaments are organised. On this occasion, Korineum Golf & Beach Resort offers special packages that include golf activities and accommodation.

17thGreenThe best seasons for playing golf in North Cyprus are spring (April – May) and autumn (October – November). Nevertheless, you are welcome all year round.


For more information on Korineum Golf & Beach Resort and special packages, please check the resort’s website

To book a golfing trip, please check our website

For German residents, please check our partners’ offers on their websites and

North Cyprus: A resting place

North Cyprus has been spared the worst effects of mass tourism and big beachside building, making it a quiet, slow-paced and relax holiday destination. The Cypriots themselves will welcome you in a very easy fashion. On the list of things you can do for having a real break are slow-paced villages, majestic Crusader castles, historic harbours, great mountain views and some of the Mediterranean best beaches. Here are some keys for a most chilled out time in North Cyprus.

– Laze under the idle tree

The Tree of IdlenessBellapais is the perfect short trip from Kyrenia, and not too far from other resorts. The village’s marvel is the 13th century Bellapais Abbey, standing above a sheer 30m drop. You enter one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in the region down a promenade of palms, through a fortified gateway. British author Lawrence Durrell lived in this pretty village of narrow streets and renamed the tree on the main square ‘The Tree of Idleness’ in its novel Bitter Lemons. Have a sit in its shade; have a drink and let time pass by…

– Walk around

WalkingA coast-to-coast mountain range spans North Cyprus, ending in the Karpaz peninsula. The Kyrenia Mountain Trail runs the 230-km length of the range through hills of cypress and pine, offering tremendous views upon the coastline. It is a ten-day walk in total, but you can pick only a section of it. Spring and autumn are the best times as it is cooler. Yet in summer, when it is hot down on the coast, the mountains are a refreshing retreat.

– Go up

KantaraNorth Cyprus has some of the best Crusader castles in the Mediterranean. St Hilarion castle was taken by Richard the Lionheart on his way to the Third Crusade. Some say it is the inspiration for Disney’s Snow White castle, a mixture of walls and towers. While Buffavento castle is worth it for a stupendous view, perhaps the finest of all is Kantara castle, in the neck of that distinctive narrow finger of land, the Karpaz peninsula. In any of the three castles, you will love exploring the hidden corners, the secret tracks and the remnants of these wonders at your own pace.

–  Lay down on the sand

Golden BeachNorth Cyprus has some of the most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean. Plus, they are also, for most, desert. While the Eastern coast of the country (Karpaz and Famagusta regions) consists of golden sandy beach over kilometres, the Northern and Western coasts are rockier, yet as stunning. Although their beauty makes the beaches popular, you will never feel like they are busy, and will always find an isolated spot to settle on the sand. With 340 days of sunshine per year on the island, you’ll undoubtedly find a chance to have a warm sunbath and swim in the turquoise waters.

– Eat fish on the seaside

TerraceWhat better time than enjoying a fresh grilled fish while seating right next to the sea? In North Cyprus, the whole coastline is scattered with small fish restaurants, where you will find the most charming service and the best mezes. You’ll hear nothing more than the sound of the waves. Take your time to savour your meal!

– Play backgammon on Kyrenia harbour

BackgammonYou can literally spend a whole day sitting at one of Kyrenia harbour’s cafe, watching life go by. Boats come and go, people walk around, with the maritime fortress as a background. The ‘national’ game of Cyprus is the backgammon (very easy to learn). You’ll find a set in every bar of cafe, and can play while sipping a coffee or local brandy sour.

– Shop in Nicosia old town

Buyuk HanThe atmosphere of Nicosia old town makes it mellow to wander around its streets and visit the local stores. You’ll find there many small shops that offer local handicrafts (embroidery, copper items, jewellery, souvenirs etc.). The caravansary, particularly, has been restored as to offer Cypriot art crafts and every rooms around the edifice is now a charming little boutique. End up your promenade with a Turkish Coffee and some local sweets, seating in the courtyard’s cafe.

– Pause time in St Barnabas

St Barnabas St Barnabas Monastery is one of the most spiritual places in North Cyprus. Coming to the monastery is like entering a sanctuary. Very quiet most of the time, the place has its walls telling history. After exploring its gorgeous church, its archaeology and icon museums as well as its lovely gardens, take a sit at the small terrace in the courtyard and listen to the silence. The Cypriot man will make you the best Turkish coffee and go back to sit on the shade, leaving you feel alone in the world.

– Roam around Salamis ruins

SalamisAlthough the most touristic part of Salamis is restricted to the theatre and baths, the site actually stretches over kilometres. You can spend a whole day walking around the old city, with few chances to meet anyone on the way, except maybe a gardener. Here and there, you’ll unexpectedly reach an old temple or cistern. There are tracks to follow to discover the hidden places of Salamis. At some point, you’ll probably reach the beach and feel like finishing up your smooth day with a nice swim.

– Hop on a boat

BoatOn Kyrenia harbour, many boats are waiting for taking you to sea. Several companies offer cruises along Kyrenia coast and will slowly take you from beach to beach, halt for a swim or just for the view. Depending on the boat, you will benefit from a deck where to lie down and enjoy the sun, a bar or even a lunch served on board. No rush, you just need to register the day before.

– Cheer up on the West Coast

KitesurfOne of the most popular sports these days is the adrenalin-filled Kite Surfing. The West Coast beaches are most suitable for kitesurfers. The perfect winds enable  you to practice this exciting sport all year round.

– Warble the Beatles

StrawberriesWhen going to Yeşilirmak village, you think it should be what inspired the Beatles when they wrote wrote the song “Strawberry Fields forever”. The village is surrounded by strawberry fields, taking you to a red world

“Let me take you down

‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever”

An archaeologist expedition in Cyprus

What better destination than Cyprus for a group of archaeologists? With its numerous and significant historical sites, the island is a little heaven for specialists.

Northern Travel Ltd., incoming agent in North Cyprus, organised a study trip on the island for archaeology students from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. As part of the NTL team, I kindly asked to join the group during one day of their exploration. I was curious to see how they would apprehend all these wonders.

SalamisI was warmly welcomed by Prof. Dr. Summerer, who organised the trip for her students. A study trip is organised every year as part of their course (the university pays 80% of the trip, making it affordable to any student willing to go). The Classical period (Greek and Roman times) being their specialty, Cyprus is more than relevant to their study program. The group consisted of students but also of several professors (Germans and Italians alike) as well as a Swiss architect interested in conducting archaeological projects on the island. There is no need to be an archaeologist to be keen on archaeology.

After they visited several sites in the Southern part of the island, the group was to discover the most important historical sites in North Cyprus. Today, we are exploring Famagusta region, namely Salamis, St Barnabas and Enkomi.

EnkomiAlthough Prof. Dr. Summerer was conducting the most part of the visits, the intervention of students was as much significant. They had prepared an informative folder to accompany them during the trip (they studied Cyprus archaeology for two semesters in class) and each of them intervened on a specific topic. It seemed to me that, more than enunciating established facts the “expedition” mostly consisted of discussion and argumentation among the specialists. For instance, in Salamis, the theory advanced by the local guide regarding the use of semi-circular platforms made the students laugh out loud altogether. Indeed, there are some elements or places of which the use is still unknown, even by archaeologists.

Salamis 2Away from the “guided” visit, the students enjoyed exploring the sites on their own. Seating here and there, drawing, reading and converging back to their professors when a question arose, their excitation reminded me of kids in a toys shop.

Royal TombsAfter observing the archaeologists-to-be during the day (surprisingly they forgot about having lunch, totally absorbed in their exploration), I decided to question them, not about archaeological facts that would be above my knowledge, but about their perception of the state of archaeology in Cyprus. Julian (student) began by explaining the importance of Cyprus as a link between the Eastern parts of the Hellenistic kingdoms and hence, the importance in the old times to control the island. When I asked what would be the most interesting site they had seen so far, the students said they could not pick one, as all of them are different and present exciting features. Yet, Salamis was elected unanimously as the site where they would carry archaeological research if they were to work in Cyprus. As we were discussing about Salamis, I risked myself asking how much time and money it would cost to excavate the vast part of the site still covered with sand. The group replied to me with a genuine laughter. According to Prof. Dr. Schneider, “it would take hundreds of years. There is the need for an important team of Turkish, Greek and international specialists because this would be a huge enterprise”. As to what is laying underneath the sand: “lots of surprises”.

Salamis 3The topic that created most reactions in our discussion was the actual condition of the sites. Anastasia (student) explained: “The major issue at the moment is that vegetation is invading the ruins. For example in Enkomi, you cannot really appreciate the layout of the site because it is all covered with plants. It is taking away a lot of visual impact.” In other words, a clearer field would allow any visitor to comprehend the sites more easily. Her classmate added: “Very often, it is not clearly stated what is original and what has been restored”. This lack of indication made it difficult even for them, specialists, to dissociate what was original. Hence it would be very difficult for “regular” visitors to recognize what is original and what is not, which is extremely important according to the archaeologist group. Indeed, as Prof. Dr. Schneider pointed out, “we often reconstruct our fantasies.”

Birdwatching in North Cyprus

By Cyprus Wildlife Ecology

Throughout the year North Cyprus has plenty to offer to birds and birders alike. In spring the scrublands, forests, plains and wetlands are brimming with life after wet winters, and over 70 species of birds are able to raise their young in Cyprus, in these bio-diverse habitats. In fact, two of Cyprus regular breeders, the Cyprus warbler and Cyprus wheatear, are endemic to Cyprus, i.e. they can be found breeding only on the island. Not only does this make Cyprus instantly important for bird conservation as Europe’s only designated Endemic Bird Area, but it also makes the island a very attractive destination to birders globally, whose one pursuit in life is to tick off each and every species.

Cyprus Warbler

Cyprus Warbler

And whilst birders are here in pursuit of endemics and other restricted-range species, opportunities for them to stumble upon other birds on their “to do” list are plentiful. For much of the year, Cyprus hosts more than 200 passage migrant species, some of them very rare. They use the island as a fuelling station as they pass to and from their breeding grounds, stretching from the Turkish coast to the high Arctic and their wintering grounds in the Middle East and throughout Africa. Cyprus mild winters also attract more than 90 winter visitor species, who flock to Cyprus to escape the cold. Hence, at any time of year you can find interesting birds if you know where to look at.

Cyprus Wheatear

Cyprus Wheatear

Cyprus Wildlife Ecology ( offers experienced professional guides who have worked professionally with birds and other wildlife in North Cyprus and around the world. They will get you to the most appropriate sites according to the season, conditions and recent sightings to ensure that your birding experience with them is most memorable and rewarding.


Copyright: Cyprus Wildlife Ecology


Hiking Trails in North Cyprus

By Tuğberk Emirzade

“Your goal is to relax and enjoy the nature in North Cyprus”


There are thousands of websites, guidebooks and people talking about how beautiful North Cyprus is, blurting out endless praises for this beautiful nature. What about enjoying, experiencing, tasting this beauty? The easiest way of enjoying the nature may very well be to get on a trail and go for a hike straight into the wild. Get a pair of sturdy hiking shoes, a pair of good socks and you are set. A sandwich and some juice prepared the night before allows you to head out early in the morning to hit the trails. Hiking on a narrow footpath under a green canopy of magnificent pines or a narrow dirt road winding through magical olive trees with the Mediterranean in the backdrop is a truly satisfying experience.

Anthemis Tricolor - a Cyprus endemic

Anthemis Tricolor – a Cyprus endemic

Although the main seasons for the outdoor activities are the spring and autumn, the subtropical climate of North Cyprus makes it possible to hike the whole year round. Even in the hot summer days it is pleasant to go on hiking early in the morning or in the evening. A two hour walk along the shores will reward you with the flowers of sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) blossoming only in the summer, or the sword-like leaves of Sand Lilly (Pancratum maritimum) piercing through the wavy blanket of sands of the seemingly benign dune formations. To be in the nature is always rewarding. A short break on a flat rock reveals the sounds of nature surprisingly harmonious. For the educated ear, it may indicate the presence of a male Cyprus Warbler or a Cyprus Wheatear both endemic to Cyprus. The only thing around you is the oxygen enriched air passing thorough the pine needles, pistacias, rock roses, sages loaded with terpenes and other volatile essential oils of the aromatic plants. Wherever you are on North Cyprus, the trails stretching across North Cyprus, from Cape Kormakitis to end of Cape Karpas are not far from you.

North Cyprus trail network

North Cyprus trail network

The trail network in North Cyprus is comprised of more than 600 kilometers of marked routes. Nearly 510 kilometers of the network is in the form of wider dirt roads, and about 90 kilometers are only narrow footpaths. It is up to the visitor to use these trails for hiking, trail running, or biking.


The most interesting part of the trail network is that the whole 600 kilometers of trails are connected to each other. In order to ease the rough landscape for the hikers, the trails are marked with white and green coloured paint, fitted with stone and wooden steps, wooden bridges and information boards with maps on them. The trail infrastructure was designed after the successful work of an NGO called Mountaineering and Sports Association (, which has been opening and maintaining hiking trails for many years. Especially the trails in Alevkayası are popular during the orchid season. The network offers a very wide selection of trails with varying landscapes, altitudes, and difficulty levels. The Dikmen Canyon requires climbing on sheer rock faces of 8 to 10 meters high.


If you are not in the mood for rock climbing, you may prefer to walk on flatter areas like the ring trails around Geçitköy Reservoir, or ride bikes around the Kalkanlı Reservoir with bird watching possibilities. The trails in the forests of Akdeniz are also fairly flat and easy ride for hobby cyclists. For the archaeologically enthusiastic people the trails in Avtepe and Kaleburnu of Karpas are ideal. The ruins on the Kings Hill, and the rock cut caves near Avtepe still hide unresolved mysteries. The only thing you need to do is to get on a trail, relax and let yourself free…

For more information, you may visit “Agama Outdoor Equipment” shop on the main road to Bellapais.

Copyright: Tuğberk Emirzade



The National Costumes of Cyprus

The national costumes of Cyprus used to be sightly different according to the regions of the island. The garments found in every region each displayed the rich variety of local fabric as well as the creative skills of Cypriots.

Traditional CostumesUntil the 19th century, women from all parts of the island wore the Sayia, a long-sleeved tunic open at the front and sides, with long baggy trousers caught around the ankle, a blouse and leather boots.

The Sayia was made in a wide variety of fabrics, from simple spun flax, through woven striped cotton, to fine silk. The Sayia was usually slightly shorter than the blouse, so that the smocked embroidery around the trousers’ hem was exposed. Cyprus was famous for its gold-embroidered silk in the Middle Ages, particularly during the reign of the Lusignan kings.

Traditional CostumeThe female headdress consisted in one scarf that held the hair in place, and a second that covered the head. The latter was a square kerchief folded diagonally, the triangle behind. It was made of fine cotton in different colours; dark green for the young women and brown for the older ones. The two loose ends were turned back and tied high up at the side so that their lace edging was displayed.

Traditional CostumeThe female costume in the region of Karpaz was the richest and most singular of all Cypriot rural costumes. Indeed it developed its own local costumes, and these were the most elaborate of all the rural areas. The Sayia was designed according to the work of the wearer, and a beautifully embroidered apron was worn to protect the material. The women working in the fields in the summer lifted up the hem of their Sayia and tucked it in at the waist. Some just wore a diagonally folded dark kerchief, tied round the waist with the pointed end behind. The women of Karpaz have always been renowed for the skill with which they embellished their Sayias.

A plainer version of the Karpaz Sayia was worn in the region of Paphos until quite recently. It was made of striped cotton and simple embroidered decoration around the cuffs. The cut of the Paphos Sayia was somehow different: the gores in the side slits widened the skirt. The bottom of the long trousers was richly worked with embroidery.

Traditional Costume

In the mountain villages of the Troodos range, the earliest costume may have been the Panna. The Panna was a kind of skirt that consisted of a cloth wrapped round the waist and fastened at the front with a buckle. A long chemise was worn underneath and the front of the Panna was covered with an apron. The bottom of the trousers was decorated with beads and sequins.

The basic components of the male costume were densely pleated baggy trousers, a shirt and a jacket. A broad cummerbund was worn around the waist, black for older men and of bright colour for the younger ones. The male costume was formerly completed by a fez, either worn alone or with a kerchief tied with the triangle at the side. The size and shape of the trousers, the colour of the cloth used for the jacket as well as its cut varied according to the locality in the island. These differences would allow indicate the wearer’s origin. It is said that the embellishments from the Mesaoria region were the most elaborate.

Male Costume


The Ottoman houses of Nicosia

The walled city of Nicosia has preserved to a great extent its historic charm with buildings typical of the Ottoman era in Cyprus. After their conquest of the island in 1570 the Ottomans made several changes to the island’s architecture, in order to adapt the buildings to their own culture. Ottoman domestic architecture saw the most prominent transformations during the late 18th century. The most obvious new exterior characteristics were the house facades with broad eaves, carved doors and high windows that became widespread in the townhouses.

Arabahmet Quarter in Nicosia

The cumba (facade protuberance) was a notable architectural expression of the Ottoman culture. Forming a sequence of projected structures in the streets, it is possibly the most distinctive feature of the Arabahmet quarter. The cumba was allowing views from different angles into the street side to its inhabitants; a person seated in the corner of the upper floor could see, without standing up, who was knocking at the door. Moreover, the cumba also provided shelter to the people passing in the street.

Ottoman House

Set within the modest elevations of the majority of traditional houses, the door was the facade element to present its owner’s social status to the outside world. All symbolic attributes of the house inhabitant could therefore be found miniaturized in the door. The importance of the door’s size represented wealth, while its decoration reflected taste for aesthetics or religious ideas. The doors of the houses belonging to the rich were embellished and carved, while those belonging to the less prosperous were rather plain and modest without much detail or decoration.


Additionally, in the traditional Cyprus Ottoman houses windows on the ground floor were commonly high above the eye-level. This was to provide privacy to the women from the men passing by the street. Indeed, in the Muslim tradition a woman’s face could be seen only by her husband. As the women were staying at home to take care of the house and the children, the windows were set high not to allow any stranger to interact with them.

Ottoman House

Despite the very own decorative arts of the Ottomans in designing houses, the houses of Nicosia also show a combination of Venetian and Lusignan characteristics, stemming from the previous rules on the island. This can be seen for example in the use of broken arches above the doors in some houses.

Lusignan House

With time, and particularly from the early British period on the island, the traditional Cyprus Ottoman houses transformed into more extroverted house forms and became more open to street life. As a consequence, the cumba was often converted into balcony, and the number and size of windows on the ground floor increased.


The Lusignan Dynasty in Cyprus (1192 – 1489)

The Lusignan family originated in Poitou (western France) in the early 10th century. In the late 12th century, Guy de Lusignan became king of the crusader state of Jerusalem by right of marriage to Sybilla of Jerusalem, cousin of Richard the Lionheart. Yet, after the death of Sybilla, Guy de Lusignan’s claim to the crown of Jerusalem weakened, and he was deposed by the barons.

Guy de Lusignan

Meanwhile, Richard the Lionheart was on his way to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. Several ships of his fleet, one of which carrying his bride-to-be Berengère de Navarre, accidentally ran aground the shores of Cyprus. The local Byzantine despot, Isaac Comnenus, seized the ships and imprisoned Berengère. Outraged at his fiancée’s treatment, Richard attacked and conquered the island.

Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade

In 1192, Richard compensated Guy for the dispossession of his crown of Jerusalem by giving him lordship of Cyprus.

Guy de Luisgnan lived only two years after assuming control of the island and died in 1194. He was succeeded by his brother Amaury. Unlike Guy who was never crowned king of Cyprus (his title was merely lord of Cyprus) Amaury obtained a crown from the Holy Roman Emperor, and in 1197 became the first Lusignan king of Cyprus.

Cyprus, Jerusalem and Lusignan coats of arms

The years passed and the Lusignan kings succeeded to each other. Since most kings were living in a perilous way, often at war or threatened of being murdered, the question of producing an heir was of high importance. For the same reasons, many Lusignan kings died at an early age and their descendants became kings as they were still underage. When the heir was too young to reign, then the closest relative to the former king was appointed to rule the island (brother, cousin…).

This issue resulted in plots and murders. In 1369 King Pierre I was assassinated. His brother Prince Jean, who was living in St Hilarion castle, was to become his successor. He had with him his faithful guard of 35 Bulgarian mercenaries. Queen Eleanor, Pierre’s wife, sought to avenge herself against Prince Jean for his certain part in the assassination of her husband. Persuaded by the Queen that his Bulgarians were plotting to kill him, the Prince called them one by one to the top tower of the castle (today called Prince Jean Tower) and had them thrown into the abyss below. Yet, when the last guard was to reach the tower, Eleanor warned him about his fate. Upon such a threat, the Bulgarian went up to the tower and killed Jean.

Prince Jean Tower tragedy

It is the reign of Eleanor’s son Pierre II that marked the beginning of the island’s decline. Pierre was crowned king of Cyprus in Nicosia in 1371. During the following ceremony in Famagusta, a dispute arose between the representatives of Genoa and Venice as to who should lead the king’s horse . The hostilities continued after the celebrations when the Venetians attacked the Genoese, killing several and destroying their property. The Genoese responded with an iron fist and seized Famagusta and Nicosia, along with the young king.

The dispute between Genoese and Venetians in Famagusta

The king’s mother, Eleanor, retired to Kyrenia castle. Eventually, a treaty in 1374 restored Pierre to the throne.

Difficulties continued under Jean II. A dispute arose over the succession to the throne, as Jean had a daughter, Charlotte, and an illegitimate son, Jacques. When the king died, Charlotte was crowned Queen. Yet, in 1460 her half-brother nicknamed Jacques the Bastard usurped the throne, forcing Charlotte to retire to the West.

The new king, Jacques II, was confronted to many difficulties, including plots hatched by Charlotte’s followers. Under pressure from Venice, he married Caterina Cornaro in 1471. If Caterina had no children, Cyprus would have been ceded to the Republic of Venice. It is no surprise that Jacques died, poisoned, several months after his marriage. Caterina Cornaro was appointed queen until the birth of an heir, which was shortly expected.

Caterina Cornaro

Her son King Jacques III was born in 1473 but lived only one year. The Venetians, who had long coveted the island, soon persuaded the queen to leave Cyprus and relinquish her position in their favour. On 26 February 1489, the banner of St Mark floated over the castles of Cyprus and the Lusignan dynasty came to an end.

7 Orthodox Churches to See in North Cyprus

North Cyprus is scattered with churches that used to be the place of worship for the Greek Orthodox community. The very first churches in Cyprus were built with the beginning of Christianity on the island in the 1st century AD. After the Great Schism that took place between Rome and Constantinople in the 11th century, Cyprus Church was tied to the Eastern Byzantine denomination, now called Orthodox Church. Therefore most churches that can be seen on the island include Orthodox features such as beautiful iconostasis, frescos, bishop thrones and carved pulpits. Although the majority of North Cyprus population is Muslim, most Orthodox churches have been extremely well preserved, some of them turned into museums or historical sites.

St Mary of the Mountain – Bellapais

The Gothic-style church is a well-preserved part of Bellapais Abbey, and dates from the 13th century. Built as a Catholic church, it was later used by the Greek Orthodox community from the 16th century until 1976. The remains of a 15th century fresco can be seen above the entrance. Several Lusignan kings are thought to be entombed under the church’s floor.

Panagia Theotokos  – Iskele

Panagia Theotokos was built in the 12th century as a domed church, a style common in Cyprus for churches built around the time. The church was expanded in the 15th century and completely restored in 1804. Most of the 12th century wall paintings, which are rare examples of this style of art decoration, are well preserved. Today the church houses a rich icon museum.

Archangel Michael – Kyrenia

The Greek Orthodox church of Archangel Michael was built in 1860 and its bell tower added about 25 years later. The church was restored, and opened as an icon museum in 1990. The large collection offers an assortment of 17th to 19th century icons, rescued from unspecified churches in the district.

St Andrew – Karpaz

The church of St Andrew Monastery was built in 1740 on the seaside. It is one of the last Orthodox churches in North Cyprus that still functions as such, with the Pope officiating everyday in the church, whether they are attenders or not. Many pilgrims, of all confessions, come to pray St Andrew to heal their diseases, and leave wax items representing their ill body part.

St Barnabas – Tuzla

The first church on the site was built in the 5th century when Cyprus Church obtained its independence thanks to Barnabas. The church was reconstructed during the 18th century and in 1991 it was turned into an icon museum, housing a rich collection of icons mostly dating from the 18th century. On one of the walls, frescoes from the 20th century tell the story of Cyprus Church independence.

Ayios Synesios – Dipkarpaz

Dipkarpaz is a mixed village in North Cyprus. Both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots live there. St Synesios church is an example of the typical Cypriot mixed style, combining features of Lusignan Gothic style with the Orthodox Byzantine style. It is one of the few Christian churches to operate in North Cyprus. Every Sunday a mass is hold for Dipkarpaz Greek Cypriot community.

St Mamas – Güzelyurt

The church of St Mamas Monastery was originally a Byzantine building. It was reconstructed several times over the centuries and the large central dome was added during the 18th century. The church has been an important worship place in Cyprus. It houses St Mamas tomb, surrounded with ear-shaped offerings. Indeed, it is believed that the saint can heal earaches.