The Mediterranean as it used to be
A long summer season and charming village are among the many delights of Northern Cyprus, as Jane Walsh reveals
WHEN the sun has packed its bag at the end of the summer and migrated south, there is no reason why you need to say farewell too.
Northern Cyprus remains open for business until the end of October so iff you would like some autumnal sunshine then why not head to this jewel located in the Mediterranean. Cyprus is an historical crossroads of the ancient world where remains of monuments and great civilizations to its varied and historical past are in evidence in the ancient cities, castles, mosques and abbeys which are scattered throughout the island.
In 1974 the island was divided, the North being home to the Turkish Cypriot population and crossing into the North is akin to time travel. Gone are the busy resorts, malls and international chain stores of the south. Instead you will find remote villages and a slower pace of life ‘the Mediterranean as it used to be’, retaining charm, beauty and remains full of character. Karpaz Beach
Turkish is the local language and the currency is the Turkish lira, although many traces of the British remain as many speak good English and driving is on the left-hand side of the road.
Kyrenia is a pretty horseshoeshaped harbour, dominated by the Venetian castle, where you can visit the world’s oldest shipwreck. This enchanting harbour is perfect for an evening promenade. In days gone by carob warehouses stood harbour side but now they have all been changed into charming seafront restaurants, cafes and bars. The coastline around Kyrenia has many sandy bays and rocky coves too.
It is also a walkers paradise with many walks meandering through the foothills of the mountains where the natural habitat produces rare wild orchids that grow in the Spring. Nestling in the foothills are sleepy villages where centuries old traditions still continue today. One of the most charming villages is Bellapais, made famous by Lawrence Durrell in his book ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’, describing Cypriot village life.
Famagusta boasts miles of fine golden sandy beaches, known as the best on the island. The importance and wealth of Famagusta was displayed in the Middle Ages in its 365 churches built to prevent the wrath of god in this prosperous city. The narrow streets of the old quarter and maze of tiny shops are perfect for exploring and soaking up the traditional atmosphere.
Visit the Citadel and Othello’s Tower which was said to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play.
For history lovers, don’t miss visiting the ancient city of Salamis, which for more than 1,000 years was one of the most influential Kingdoms of Cyprus and now one of the best preserved sites in the Mediterranean. You can still swim among the ruins of the harbour and there are still tiny fragments of mosaic partially buried in the earth.
Just another thing to treasure.
The beautiful horseshoe harbour of Kyrenia in North Cyprus – above and right
The Bellapais Gardens Hotel