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Sights of Northern Cyprus

Sights of Northern Cyprus

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus appeared on the world map recently. At the end of the last century, the island was divided into two parts as a result of the military conflict. In its southern half is the Republic of Cyprus. Both countries have popular resorts and famous landmarks that can compete with other architectural monuments.

Northern Cyprus invites guests to visit the medieval castles, temples, monasteries, museums, as well as the ruins of ancient cities, numbering more than one millennium. The state is divided into five districts or districts: Gazimagusa, Girne, Guzelyurt, Iskele and Levkosh. And in each of them there are magnificent examples of ancient architecture, some of which were included in the UNESCO heritage lists.

Lefkosa (Nicosia)

Lefkosa — so in Nicosia is called in Turkish, the main city of two Cypriot states at once, divided by a buffer zone. The capital of the island is located at a distance from the sea coast at the foot of the mountain Beshparmak. The unique city has magnificent architectural monuments, ancient buildings organically fit into modernity with our usual shops, offices, cafes.

Sophia Cathedral

In fact, it is no longer a cathedral, but a mosque, named after Sultan Selim II. But it was built as a Gothic temple. His construction had a difficult period in the history of Cyprus. Europe and Asia were torn apart by strife. Crusades against Muslims were being prepared. Cyprus was also drawn into the abyss of conflicts. The English king Richard the Lionheart who seized the island sold him to Guy de Lusignan, a knight and deposed monarch of Jerusalem. The French dynasty ruled the island for several centuries. It was a time of enslavement of the local population, which was greatly contributed by the domination of the Roman Catholic Church.

At the end of the 12th century, construction of a large Gothic Hagia Sophia was begun in Nicosia. It planned the coronation of the Cypriot rulers and the burial of persons of royal blood. So, in 1194, the monarch Guy de Lusignan was buried in the cathedral, who bought the island from the British. The erection of the temple went very slowly, but Louis IX, who had been in Nicosia on the way to Jerusalem, isolated the builders from his army. Architects and artists arrived from Europe. Hagia Sophia was ready in the summer of 1326, and in November it was consecrated.

It was a real masterpiece. Even the Pope appreciated the work of the builders, promising them an indulgence for a hundred days. The cathedral looked like a similar structure in French Reims, which symbolized the power of the European state. Inside built three naves. The largest, central, has a length of 66 meters and a width of 21 meters.

High columns carry arched arches, turning into the arch. Another nave crosses the main space of the cathedral on the east side, giving the temple the shape of a cross. Inside, several small chapels were made, one of which was erected by the decree of Henry II. Several stairs led up to the upper gallery. The cathedral was decorated with large stained-glass windows.

When he was a cathedral, he had many icons and sculptures of Catholic saints. The time of Christianity in Cyprus ended in the 70s of the XVI century, when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island. At the same time, many cathedrals and churches were rebuilt to the needs of Muslims. All Christian shrines were brought out of St. Sophia Cathedral, the scenes on the stained glass windows were changed, the frescoes on the walls were painted over, and the exterior was reconstructed. Two minarets were attached to the cathedral, and a mihrab appeared on the southern wall — a special niche showing the direction of Mecca.

In the 20th century, the building in honor of Sultan Selim II became known as the “Selimiyev Mosque”. Today it is a working mosque, but, despite the redevelopment and new symbolism, the Gothic roots are still visible here.

Caravanserai Büyük Khan

A caravan-shed in eastern countries refers to buildings that serve travelers as shelter and parking. This is the old analogue of modern hotels and hotels. Büyük Khan in Nicosia was built in the 70s of the XVI century. Earlier in his place was the palace of the rulers of the French dynasty Lusignan. The Turks who seized Cyprus put their caravanserai on the ruins.

The old hotel is made in the form of four buildings connected in one large square. Inside there is a courtyard, in the center of which a small mosque and a fountain are built. Along the perimeter of the building there are verandas. The caravanserai was built like a real fortress. From the outside of the hotel, the windows are located only on the second floor, and the entrance is closed with a strong wooden gate. This was done to protect guests from thieves and gangsters.

During the British rule, prisoners were kept in Büyük Khan. For some time the hotel played the role of a shelter for the poor, and then became a warehouse of building materials. At the end of the 20th century, the caravanserai building was repaired and a center of arts was created on its basis. Today there are shops selling works of Cypriot craftsmen, Turkish sweets and coffee. In the courtyard there is a restaurant of national cuisine. In Büyük Khan you can see the performances of the Turkish Shadow Theater.

Library of Sultan Mahmud II

The youngest son of Sultan Abdul-Hamid I and the 30th Ottoman sovereign Mahmoud II ascended the Turkish throne in 1808 thanks to insurrection. Having executed his rivals, the new ruler of the empire decided to take up state reforms. By the 19th century, the military and political weakness of the Ottoman Empire was already visible. Therefore, a transformation was required along the lines of European states. To create a new order in the country, the sultan had to fight with established traditions and habits, to overcome age-old prejudices and customs. In the master’s plans was the implementation of secular education, the development of such industries as typography, journalism, literature, the opening of many libraries in the country. Sultan Mahmoud II wanted to fight corruption.

But the new reforms came with great difficulty. They were not accepted by the aristocracy, and the common people did not understand the changes being imposed. Life has become more difficult, and taxes have been growing almost every day. The army reform also stalled. The Janissary Corps was dissolved, and the new army did not appear. But the enemy did not wait, but continued to attack from all sides. At this time, there have been some positive changes. So, in the country many libraries were opened, many new buildings were built.

The library on Selimiye Meydani Street appeared in 1829, when, by decree of the Sultan, book vaults were created throughout the empire. At first, she belonged to the local madrassa and was replenished mainly with religious books. Today the library is located in one of the oldest buildings in Nicosia. The stone structure was erected by decree of the governor of Al Ruhi — a protege from Turkey, and made in the form of a cube, which is crowned with three domes. Today it is no longer a library, but a museum of old books. There are about two thousand rare folios in Turkish, Arabic, Persian, samples of calligraphy, miniatures, portraits of prominent state dignitaries of the XIX century. Most books are written by hand.

The interior of the library is decorated with various aphorisms from the Quran, made in golden paint. And the rooms are lined with glass cabinets with rare books.

Gazimagusa (Famagusta)

The city of Famagusta has always been one of the important economic centers of Cyprus. He played a big role in trade and international relations with all the rulers. The city was plundered and destroyed, rebuilt, it passed from one empire to another. The armies of Egypt and the Republic of Venice, the Genoese and British knights, Greek and Turkish soldiers marched through its streets. Today, a large number of sights reminds of its turbulent past: temples, monasteries, a fortress wall with bastions, ancient markets and amphitheatres.

Fortress walls

Famagusta is located at the crossroads of maritime trade routes between Europe, Africa, Asia, and therefore has always been well fortified. The walls of the city fortress were built several centuries. With the development of military technology, they have become increasingly unapproachable. Since Famagusta was of great importance to the economy of the island, each ruler considered the defense of the city to be his primary concern.

The first fortress appeared during the reign of the French dynasty Lusignan. In the 15th century, new monarchs from the Republic of Venice reconstructed the walls of the outpost, fortifying them and increasing their height. Now the fortress was supposed to save the inhabitants of the city from the troops of the Ottoman Empire and withstand cannon attacks. Local historians claim that Leonardo da Vinci himself took part in the design of the new citadel.

The military garrison and the inhabitants of Famagusta often had to repel pirates’ raids and attacks from neighboring states. Remains in the history of the fortress and a long siege by Turkish troops. In 1570, for ten months, the army of Lala Mustafa Pasha could not capture the citadel.

Ottoman troops suffered heavy losses, more than fifty thousand Turkish soldiers were killed by soldiers of the fortress. The garrison itself lost almost all of its defenders. Several bastions were destroyed, supplies and weapons ran out. The evidence of these battles has reached our time: on the walls of the citadel and inside it you can see damage from cannonballs.

The city had to pass. And although Mustafa Pasha made a promise to save the lives of the remaining defenders of the fortress, they were killed, and the commandant of the garrison was hanged on the mast. The fortress has reached our days practically in the form that remained after the capture of it by the Ottoman troops. In the XX century, for the convenience of traffic, three more arches appeared in the walls. The moat, previously filled with sea water and preventing siege from land, has also disappeared.

The Famagusta Citadel has 15 bastions, four of which are made in the form of large fortifications with towers. These are Dzhambulat, Othello, Rivettina, Martinengo. In the Dzhambulat bastion today there is a museum of the same name, where ancient exhibits are kept.

Above the gates of the castle of Othello there is a bas-relief of marble — the coat of arms of the Republic of Venice. Cypriots believe that the hero of the tragedy of Shakespeare of the same name served in Famagusta. Not far from the Rivettin bastion are the overland gates, and on the upper tower there is a good observation platform. Martinengo has walls with a thickness of 7 meters. At one time, the bastion was considered impregnable.

The length of the entire fortress wall is three and a half kilometers. It was built in such a convenient place that it allowed to control the entire seaport. A heavy chain stretched from the pier to the tower, which, when attacked from the sea, could block the entrance to the harbor. In the thickness of the fortress walls were located warehouses of weapons, stables, utility rooms, tunnels and passages.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

In the center of Famagusta there is an amazing building of a sacred character, which has the characteristics of two religions at once: Catholicism and Islam. Earlier it was a cathedral, erected in honor of St. Nicholas. It was built at the turn of the XIII and XIV centuries during the reign of the Lusignan dynasty, but finishing work continued for several decades. The money for the cathedral was allocated by one of the representatives of the noble Cypriot family of Ibelins.

The church had a landmark character for Cyprus. Coronations and weddings of the Jerusalem monarchs took place here, since this ceremony could not be held in the Holy Land. Hence began the procession, arranged to stop the plague spreading on the island. According to historians, after this action the disease began to decline. Built in the best traditions of Gothic architecture, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas recalls a similar temple in the city of Reims. This style is rarely found outside of France.

The length of the cathedral is 55 meters, and width — 23 meters. The high vaulted ceiling lies on 12 columns, going six pairs from the central nave. The facade of the building faces west. Here there are three peaked carved portal. Above the main entrance there is an arched window — a rose — with artfully carved bindings. The temple has two traditional bell towers that were damaged during the siege of Famagusta by the troops of Lala Mustafa Pasha and the earthquake of 1735.

After the capture of Cyprus by the Ottoman troops, many Christian cathedrals were converted into mosques. This fate befell the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, and now Ayasofiya Mosque stood in the center of Famagusta. Later she was given the name of Lala Mustafa Pasha, the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire, who commanded the siege of the city.

All Orthodox shrines were brought out of the cathedral, and the stained glass windows and frescoes depicting the righteous were simply painted over. The Christian burial places of Cypriot kings from the Lusignan family have also disappeared. Surprisingly, but a fact: the only tomb of Bishop of Famagusta, dated 1365, has been preserved. Inside the cathedral was partially redone under the canons of the Muslim religion. Outside, they built a high minaret.

On the left side of the central entrance to the temple stands a fig tree, which dates back to about 7–8 centuries. It is assumed that it was planted during the construction of the cathedral. Today, the mosque is valid. People of any faith can visit it, but every Friday a service is held here, and the entrance to tourists is allowed only after its completion.

Monastery of St. Barnabas

Today in the monastery of St. Barnabas services are no longer held, there are no monks here. Three of them lived in the monastery until 1976, caring and caring for the premises. They were made several frescoes and icons, they built a bell tower with their own forces. Later, due to age and weakness, the brothers left their cells forever. After several years of reconstruction, this place has become a center of pilgrimage for believing Christians, a museum of icons was organized here.

The name of St. Barnabas is associated with the appearance of Christianity in Cyprus. The saint himself came from a Jewish family. While studying in Jerusalem, Barnabas imbued with the teachings of Christ and decided to preach it to the people. For seven years he carried the word of God to the inhabitants of the island, helping them to come to faith.

But there were fanatics who seized the saint and killed him, throwing stones at him. The body of Barnabas was secretly buried on the outskirts of Salamis. There is a version according to which the future saint was appointed bishop of Salamis, but was executed in his homeland for preaching.

For several centuries, the townspeople did not know where the remains of the preacher were buried. The place of his burial was indicated by the saint himself, appearing in a dream to one of the Cypriot bishops. The grave was found. At this place they decided to put a small Christian church. The holy relics were placed in it, and a monastery and a shelter for pilgrims were built nearby.

The building of the church and the monastery itself was altered several times, and after the departure of the monks, the museum of icons was located in the church. In the monastic rooms is now a museum of archeology. Not far from the monastery is the tomb of St. Barnabas. Above it stands a small chapel. The sarcophagus with the body, covered with a red shroud, is stored in a cave under the ground. It is believed that if we offer prayers to the saint and attach ourselves to the sarcophagus, then all intimate requests will come true.

The archaeological museum contains exhibits of the early period of the history of Cyprus. There are several departments here. In the hall of Greek ceramics there are many ancient Greek amphoras in which they held liquids and transported grain. The hall of antique sculpture shows statues made in the era of the archaic. There is also a collection of glass products from the time of the Roman Empire.

The monastery of St. Barnabas is located 10 kilometers from Famagusta. Not far from this place are the ruins of the ancient city of Salamis. You can get here only by personal transport or by taxi, moving along the coast of the bay.

Ancient Salamis (Salamis)

On the territory of Northern Cyprus were found the remains of ancient cities. Such ancient ruins, the former village of Salamis, are located near Famagusta and occupy a large area. Here you can wander almost the whole day, trying to unravel the secrets of the ancient world. The exact date of the founding of Salamis is unknown, historians suggest that its construction began after the Trojan War. The convenient location of the city, the proximity of the mountains and the presence of sea routes made this village a center of commerce and culture.

The first mention of the city appear in the annals of the VII century BC. It is known that it was here that the first coin in Cyprus was minted. It happened under King Elevton II. For a time, Salamis was dependent on Egypt, then belonged to the Persian empire.

In the epoch of Alexander the Great a large fleet was built at the shipyards by order of the emperor. If earlier ethno-Cypriots lived in the city, then during the rule of the Roman Empire, a lot of Jews appeared who had migrated from Palestine. Under the rule of Constantine II, Salamis was rebuilt after a strong earthquake and received the name of the emperor. Here was the residence of the bishop and the capital of the island.

The city was destroyed several times. He repelled the attacks of various nations: Persians, Assyrians, Romans. Much of what has survived today among the ruins of the city appeared during the Roman rule. Here were found the remains of the gymnasium — a former school and health center.

Nearby were the Roman baths, decorated with statues of Roman gods. Some of these marble figures have survived to the present day, but all of them were devoid of heads. It is believed that this happened due to the fault of European collectors and connoisseurs of Roman art. The amphitheater of Salamis, which was once one of the largest structures of its kind in the Mediterranean, has also been preserved. It could simultaneously accommodate up to 15 thousand spectators.

Not far from the sea are the ruins of the Christian basilica of Kamnonopetra of the 4th century. Partially preserved mosaic that adorned this building. The ancient masters at the beginning of the millennium used in their patterns a huge number of shades of different colors. Not far from there was another basilica, named after Saint Epiphany. Mosaic floors have been preserved to this day, striking the beauty and brilliance of colors. Here in the basilica is the crypt of one of the bishops.

Salamis also had its own market square, Agora, one of the largest in the Roman Empire. And today the ruins of this place make an indelible impression on our contemporaries. Next to the square was a temple in honor of Zeus, where the locals went with their requests for protection and patronage. In the VII century, the island was captured and burned by the Arabs. Then the inhabitants of Salamis fled from these places, the city was empty. For 200 years, archaeological research has been carried out on the coast of the bay, but much remains unexplored.

Girne (Kyrenia)

Kyrenia or Girne is considered the most popular tourist region of Northern Cyprus. The settlement, founded around the 9th – 10th centuries BC, has always been an important transit point at the crossroads of trade routes between Asia, Europe and Africa. The history of the city is similar to the chronicle of the other settlements of Cyprus. But unlike Famagusta, Kyrenia did not undergo such a destructive raid by the warriors of the Ottoman Empire. Yes, and during the conflict between the Greeks and the Turks did not suffer losses, like the ghost city of Vorosh.

Kyrenia fortress

Construction of the city fortress began approximately in the X century. Like every city standing on the seashore, Girne needed its own citadel. The following rulers of the island devoted a lot of time to security, so the fortress in Kyrenia was increasingly strengthened and made impregnable. The appearance that the citadel has today was carried out during the Venetian rule in Cyprus. In addition to the guard and defense functions, the stone walls also served as a prison for local aristocrats.

The fortress was so reliable that no enemy army could take it by storm. In the hard years, members of the royal families of Cyprus were hiding behind its walls. During the Turkish siege, Lal Mustafa Pasha sent a message to all the cities of the island demanding to surrender without a fight. In exchange, he promised to save the lives of the garrison soldiers and the population. Kyrenia ruler Jan Mario Murazo was not a brave man, he decided to accept the offer of the pasha in exchange for a certain amount. And on September 14, 1571, Ottoman warriors entered the fortress. When the British in the walls of the citadel was located prison.

After gaining independence by Cyprus, it was decided to organize a large museum complex. On the territory of the fortress opened the Shipwreck Museum. Here are the remains of one of the merchant ships, plowing the sea under the rule of Alexander the Great. The ship, sunk two and a half thousand years ago, was discovered off the coast of Cyprus. After a long process of ascent to the surface and the scrupulous work of restorers, the remains of the vessel were installed in the museum. Not far from this room there is a recreated dwelling of ancient people.

Lusignan tower of the fortress keeps the mannequins of soldiers in robes and armor of different centuries. The torture museum is located in the local dungeon, which reminds of the prisoners tortured in prison. Within the walls of the fortress was built a small chapel of St. George, dated XII century. Ship bells, cannonballs, stone thickets, the remains of columns are stored in the courtyard. You can walk along the walls, from where a beautiful view of the sea and the city opens.

Bellapais Abbey

Bellapais Abbey is considered one of the best architectural monuments of Cyprus of global importance. Even those remnants of buildings that have survived from the once thriving community, speak of the former beauty of this place. Called the “white monastery” for the color of clothing of the local brethren, the monastery began to be built at the end of the XII century. Most of the buildings were erected under French rule, when King Hugh III sat on the throne. It is not for nothing that the coat of arms of the Lusignan dynasty hangs in the refectory above the entrance. There are also heraldic signs of the kingdoms of Cyprus and Jerusalem.

The Genoese were not set up peacefully and tried to pick up everything that was lying bad. The abbey was ravaged. The following rulers of Cyprus did not care about the moral side of the matter, and the monks of the monastery set off on their heels. Drunkenness, debauchery, theft among the brethren has become commonplace. Under Ottomans, the abbey was ceded to the Orthodox Church, but the Cypriot diocese was not interested in the newly acquired property.

All subsequent years, the lands of the monastery were used as arable land, and the empty buildings were gradually destroyed. The British government has adapted the existing buildings under the armory. Only in the Abbot church, built in the Gothic style, services continued until the 18th century.

Perhaps that is why it was preserved better than the rest of the buildings, only the iconostasis is a new part in it. Today in the church you can see frescoes, made in the XVII century. The refectory hall, the refectories, with high vaults and a small balcony, from which traditional prayer was read before the meal, also survived. This room had such an impressive size that the British in the second half of the XX century staged a shooting gallery in it.

Before the refectory there are two sarcophagi, which the monks used as a washstand. In the upper of them was collected water, which then flows out of the holes. Then, already used, it fell into the lower part and was fed from there for watering the plants of the courtyard. From the monastery buildings, three Gothic arches are preserved. Unfortunately, their openwork jewelry is lost. And the overlaps themselves have become a symbol of Cyprus, whose images can often be seen in the photographs of the island. The royal chambers of Hugh III and the monastic cells were destroyed, and the outbuildings were not preserved.

Today, only tourists and lovers of classical music visit the abbey. All summer under concerts and festivals are held under ancient vaults with magnificent acoustics.

Bellapais Abbey is located in a village with the same name, which is located 20 minutes from Kyrenia. In the 50s of the last century an Englishman lived here, the writer Lawrence Darrell, who in one of his works spoke about the Cypriot events of that time. Tourists must show and the house of the writer, and the old tree, which Darrel described in his book.

Fortresses in the Kyrenia Mountains

Three castles were built on the ridge of the Kyrenia Mountains: Kantara, Buffavento and Saint Hilarion’s castle, serving as observation and guard posts. The successful fortification position of the fortresses well served the chosen goal — to block the way to the island from the north side. Locks are in direct visibility from each other, from them it is convenient to observe the surrounding area. Today the fortresses erected by the Byzantines are partially destroyed, only ruins remain of many buildings. But these remains of former power make a great impression on tourists who want to visit them.

Cantara located at an altitude of 630 meters above sea level. Earlier on the site of the fortress there was a monastery of the Virgin Mary of Kantara, which gave the name of the highland citadel. This place is also known for the fact that behind its walls was Isaac Comnenus, the emperor of Cyprus. Earlier, according to his decree, relatives of King Richard the Lionheart, who were wrecked in a shipwreck near the island, were captured. The English monarch could not leave it unpunished, and in one of his trips to Jerusalem, he conquered Cyprus. It was then that the Comnenus had to hide.

The new rulers of Cyprus from the French dynasty of Lusignan used the castle and continued to strengthen it. But after the 15th century, the need for a high-mountainous citadel disappeared, and the fortress became empty. Occasionally local aristocrats still came here to hunt in the mountains. Today, a good asphalt serpentine leads to the castle, and you will have to climb the ancient stone staircase of 170 steps to the gate.

The next castle is called Buvavento. This word is translated into Russian as «cheerful, naughty wind.» And how else to be the wind blowing at an altitude of 950 meters above sea level? The castle was of great importance, therefore, with each ruler, the walls of the fortress were not tired of strengthening. When the British defenders of the castle did not want to obey the will of the new rulers. In addition, the daughter of Isaac Comnenus was hiding here. The problem was solved simply. One gentleman fell in love with a girl, and received her, the local treasury and the castle in addition to almost nothing and without a fight.

When Lusignan in the fortress was located prison for criminals of noble blood, called the «Castle of the Lion.» The prisoners here were condemned, in fact, to starvation. But in the Middle Ages, Bufavto, like the rest of the fortress, began to lose its purpose. Mountain castles were no longer needed, and they were empty. As in the old days, this castle was the most inaccessible, and today it is quite difficult to get into it. There is no good road here, and from the parking lot you have to walk uphill for almost 40 minutes.

The history of the third fortress — Castle of St. Hilarion — began with a small hermitage. It was built on the side of a mountain by a monk named Hilarion. Later there was already a whole monastery, and then it was turned into a fortified fortress. When Lusignan in the fortress appeared the summer residence of the king. The castle was used until the middle of the XV century, and then the need for it disappeared. And the former citadel began to collapse little by little.

Museum of Icons, Church of the Archangel Michael

For several centuries, this place was a bastion, which is part of the fortress wall. The church of Archangel Michael was erected later in 1860. Already in the 20th century, a high bell tower was attached to the main building. Before the military conflict, it was the current temple. After the separation of the island, many churches on the Turkish side of Cyprus were closed. And the temple of the Archangel Michael became an unspoken base, where the now unnecessary icons were brought to.

Using the confusion, part of the most valuable shrines was exported to other countries. Some of the icons were able to return to their homeland when trials about the disappearance of Cyprus frescoes took place in the Netherlands. In 1990, a museum was opened in the Cyrenian church of the Archangel Michael, where a collection of icons and other Cypriot shrines was assembled. Most of them are made by icon painters of Cyprus of past centuries, but there are also rare works of the XVIII century.

The high bell tower of the Church of the Archangel Michael can be seen from a distance, and the white walls of the church attract attention with its simplicity and the absence of any architectural excesses. The collection of local icons is complemented by a tracery wooden iconostasis of the XIX century.

Guzelyurt (Morphu)

The word «Morph» in translation means «beautiful.» And the village received such a name for good reason: it is immersed in greenery, and around there are many citrus plantations. Next to the city there is an old olive garden. Now there are more than two thousand trees, the oldest of which are several centuries old. These olives even have their own names: Queen, King, Fairy Tale, and so on.

Monastery of St. Mamas

Mamas is an especially revered saint of Cyprus. It is believed that he was born in prison, where his mother and father were imprisoned. They went to prison for their Christian faith, which the local authorities did not accept.

After the death of the boy’s parents, a pious widow was adopted, also raising an orphan in the worship of Christ. Already in his teens, Mamas began to preach Christianity and could influence his speeches on people. After the death of the foster mother, the boy was caught by the police and brought to the sovereign. For the firmness of the faith of a teenager should have been executed. But the angel that came down broke the guard.

After that, Mamas settled in a mountain cave and began to lead a solitary life. He continued to pray, and animals and rare passersby were his listeners. There is a legend that a hermit was caught for tax evasion. On the way they were attacked by a lion. Mamas was not afraid of him and even saddled.

So, riding a wild beast, he came to the city. The quivering governor dismissed the hermit and did not take money from him. Later, Mamas was executed, and the Cypriot church numbered him saints. Since then, the former hermit is considered the patron saint of animals and all people who evade taxes.

On the island, more than a dozen churches are dedicated to St. Mamas, and his remains are located in the temple of Guzelyurt. Previously, it was the monastery church, but the monastery was closed in the XVIII century. After Cyprus gained independence in the second half of the 20th century, the monastery began to function again, but in the 70s it was completely liquidated. And now there are different offices in his premises.

The church of St. Mamas was built in the XII century, but later rebuilt more than once. During its long history, it had a Byzantine look, then changed forms to Gothic. What tourists see today was already completed in the 17th century. At the same time a dome appeared on the roof.

You can get to the church through the side entrance. Near the door is the saint sarcophagus. The arch above it is painted with scenes from the life of Mamas. Local guides tell how the robbers tried to open the tomb with the body and drilled holes in the lid. Then they did not succeed, and through the holes the oil with healing properties constantly appears. Priests claim that it is even able to calm the raging sea. Here in the church there are many icons depicting Mamas. He sits astride a lion, and holds a lamb in his hands.

In the church itself closely intertwined Gothic and Venetian styles. The room is quite large and has three naves. Above the main of them rises the dome with elongated windows. From there hangs a large crystal chandelier. The church iconostasis dates from the 16th century. He, like balconies for sermons, decorated with openwork carvings.

Museum of Natural History and Archeology

In the 70s of the last century, the city Metropolis was located in the center of the city. But because of the military conflict, the bishop left, and the Museum of Natural History and Archeology was organized in his house. The two floors of the building are now filled with collections of Cypriot artifacts. And in the area behind the house are ancient objects found during the excavations of ancient cities.

The first floor is occupied by collections of representatives of the flora and fauna of the island of Cyprus. There are various samples of local animals, insects, birds and fish, some of them are quite rare in nature. The second floor of the museum is reserved for the repository of archaeological collections. One of the halls contains exhibits from the Bronze Age, while others exhibit items from a later period of development of Cyprus.

One of the exhibitions represents the ancient cities of Cyprus, whose age is more than three thousand years. The archaeological research conducted there helped to partially recreate the architecture of the villages, ancient household items were found. So, in the museum are shown ancient vessels in which products were stored. There are also dishes, preserved from the Byzantine rule of Cyprus, Roman and Greek vases. The most valuable exhibit is an ancient statue of the goddess of fertility Artemis, dating back to the II century of our century. A stone carved sculpture was found in the 1980s.

Iskele. Karpas Peninsula

Karpas — the eastern part of the island of Cyprus, a narrow strip stretching into the sea. There are many natural untouched landscapes, and wild sandy beaches all year round see only turtles. On the peninsula there are several farms, and small settlements along the coast attract with peace and comfort.

Monastery of Apostle Andrew the First Called

When the history of this monastery began, it is difficult to establish now. The first mentions of the monastery appeared in the notes of one of the English pilgrims. As early as the beginning of the 11th century, he described a certain monastery in the east of the island. At the end of the 12th century, the ruler of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus, captured the sister and bride of King Richard the Lionheart, which angered the monarch quite a bit.

And so he was forced to hide in a monastery on Cape Karpas. The monastery was named in honor of Saint Andrew, one of the twelve disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. He became the first man to follow Christ, and received the name of the First-Called for this.

According to legend, Andrew the First-Called sailed on one of the ships en route to Ephesus. It was a city located on the territory of modern Turkey. People on the ship were thirsty. Then Andrei advised the captain to make a stop to replenish water supplies. Having gone down to the shore together with the sailors, the saint began to read prayers. And then I found a stone, under which I beat a clean source of water. But the moisture was also life-giving. She returned sight to the captain’s sick son.

In the place where the spring of holy water was blocked, a monastery was built. Today it is one of the most famous places in Cyprus. Pilgrims come here for help. Someone asks for holy healing, someone for solving difficult life problems. The old pier, where, according to legend, the ship arrived with Andrew the First-Called, also survived.

The building of the monastery church is surrounded by cells where the monks lived. Not far from the temple there is a square with a chapel. Here a healing spring spurts from the wall. Previously, life-giving moisture poured from the cranes, but then they were cut off. Now there is only one trickle of water. Plastic bottles for water are sold nearby.

The very first buildings of the monastery are not preserved. In their place in the XV century, a church appeared. Another temple was built in the middle of the XIX century at the expense of residents of Cyprus. Today, the church has a large beautiful iconostasis, decorated with openwork carvings and gilding. Among the valuable things of the monastery are the ancient icons of the XIX century, other things related to this time.

The feast day at the monastery is celebrated on August 15th. In 1967, the relics of the saint visited Cyprus. The remains were transported to many cities of the island, accompanied by Archbishop Macarius. The monastery of St. Andrew the First-Called was very popular with believers, often come here to baptize children. After the military conflict in 1974, the flow of pilgrims decreased significantly. But the mass visits to the temple by residents of Cyprus from the Greek half of the island began only in 1997 after repeated letters to the United Nations.

On the territory of the monastery there are two graves. Father John was at peace here, collecting money for the construction of a new church in the 19th century. Aristodimos Yannaka Papapros, who bequeathed property to the monastery after his death, found here an eternal refuge. Not far from the church there is a brisk trade. Local vendors offer tourists and pilgrims souvenirs with views of the monastery, decorations, and sweets. Near the abode, wild asses are constantly grazing. Animals are quite peaceful in appearance and gladly take tribute in the form of carrots or bread.

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