Famagusta - Northern Cyprus

Famagusta is a city on the east coast of Cyprus, located in a bay between Capes Greco and Eloea, east of Nicosia. It has the deepest harbour in the island and claims some of the finest examples of mediaeval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean. The city is protected by ramparts which encircle the town and the citadel castle guarding the harbour. Since the 1974 Turkish invasion the city has resided in the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognised only by Turkey). Famagusta contains spectacular ruins, including a magnificent amphitheatre, Roman baths, a gymnasium and royal tombs. Famagusta harbour is dominated by a great citadel sometimes known as Othello's Tower in reference to the (fictional) play by Shakespeare. It contains a splendid 14th century Gothic Hall. The Venetian Palace was used during the Ottoman Empire as a prison, after its destruction in 1571. Just inland from Famagusta are the church and monastery dedicated to St. Barnabas, the founder of the apostolic Cypriot Orthodox Church in 45 AD. There is a collection of 18th century icons and the monastery cloisters now house an archaeological museum. It is believed that the city occupies the site of ancient town of Arsinoe. Famagusta prospered through the destruction of the neighbouring Salamis, the former capital of the island. By the year 1300 A.D. the town was one of the principal markets of the Eastern Mediterranean. After 1400, the Venetians ruled Cyprus and transferred the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta in 1489. By 1571 not only Famagusta, but all Cyprus was under Ottoman Turkish rule and remained so until 1878. The end of British colonial rule in 1960 led to the intensification of inter-communal strife between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots which concluded in 1974 with the Turkish-Cypriot rule in North Cyprus.