The island of Cyprus in 1974 was divided into the Republic of Cyprus and the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Flag of Turkey and Northern Cyprus on a mountain near Nicosia Flag of Turkey and Northern Cyprus on a mountain near Nicosia

Visa for Northern Cyprus

You do not need a visa to visit Northern Cyprus, provided that you are entering from Turkey. This can be done by ferry from nearby Turkish cities or by plane, also only from Turkey.
You can also get here from South Cyprus. To do this, you need fly to one of the Cypriot airports – Larnaca or Paphos. There are no problems with crossing the border, but it is important to remember that you must leave the island in the same way as you arrived – through the official airport of the Republic of Cyprus (the airport of Northern Cyprus – Ercan, is not considered as such). Violation of this rule is fraught with the fact that next time you will simply not be allowed to Cyprus, and in principle, there may be problems with visiting other countries, at least Greece.
By the way, if you arrived on the Turkish side of the island, crossing the demarcation line is generally impossible, since, from the point of view of the Cypriot authorities, this is an illegal way. In case of such an attempt, you will be detained and, again, you will have problems in the future.

Northern Cyprus landmarks

There are quite a few historical architectural monuments in Northern Cyprus, and here they are mainly buildings of the period of French rule, in contrast to Southern Cyprus, with its Byzantine architecture. The first thing that catches your eye is the very poor condition of most of the buildings, even though many are actively used as mosques (it is clear that, as elsewhere, most of the churches have survived).
Moreover, since in Islam there is a prohibition on the image of people and animals, all the bas-reliefs were knocked off the facades, well, inside, of course, everything was also cleaned up. As a result, the once majestic Gothic temples look literally tattered.

Naturally, beach holidays are also developed here, however, much worse than on the Greek side. But the prices are also lower.



Famagusta (Varosha in Turkish) was once the main Cyprus resort. Now the demarcation line runs along the edge of the city and it is forbidden to enter, settle in and even take pictures from the bus in the neighborhoods adjacent to it. This is a neutral territory, which, at the suggestion of one journalist, is called a ghost town, since everything there remained in the same form (as far as it was possible to protect itself from marauders) as it was before the war. Only there are no people. It is good that the historical sites remained on the inhabited side of the city.

In order to understand that the main attraction of Famagusta was built by the French, it is not necessary to know the history of Cyprus. Externally, the main temple – the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is almost a copy of the Reims Cathedral. Since now this is the mosque of Lala Mustafa Pasha (who conquered Famagusta in 1571), a minaret sticks out on the left (even if both towers were converted into minarets, honestly).

Famagusta. Cathedral of St. NicholasFamagusta. Cathedral of St. Nicholas (XIV century)

Another well-preserved building is the Church of Peter and Paul. Also, probably because it was converted into a mosque. Now, however, the mosque is already inactive. Here, Byzantine motifs mixed with Gothic are already clearly visible. Inside, as befits a mosque, there is a complete emptiness.

Famagusta. Church of st. Peter and PaulFamagusta. Church of St. Peter and Paul (XIV century)

Famagusta. Church of St. Peter and PaulFamagusta. Church of St. Peter and Paul (XIV century)

That’s all, actually. The rest of the historic buildings are just ruins. This is, as it were, the church of St. Francis.

Famagusta. Church of St. FrancisFamagusta. Church of St. Francis (XIII-XIV century)

From the oldest church in Famagusta – St. George of Latin, as well as from the Greek Orthodox Church of the same name, only ruins remained 🙁

Yes, and, of course, there are city walls. This is, to a greater extent, the creation of the Venetians, although it is clear that they did not erect them from scratch – they simply completed the existing fortifications.
It is believed that one of the towers was the place of service of Captain Othello – the prototype of the hero of the novel by a certain Italian writer, from whom Shakespeare borrowed the plot for his play. However, no less plausible is the version according to which Captain Othello was dragged here by the British already in the 19th century, just for fun 🙂

Famagusta. Othello TowerFamagusta. Othello Tower (XVI century)


The main attraction of Kyrenia, of course, is the Kyrenia castle on a picturesque embankment with a harbor.

Kyrenia. Embankment Kyrenia. Embankment

The castle of Kyrenia, like in Famagusta, was the last to be completed by the Venetians. But here it is precisely the fortress – i.e. not just the remnants of walls, but a closed circuit with internal rooms.

Kyrenia. FortressKyrenia castle

Among other things, the Kyrenia castle had its own prison with a torture chamber, in which installations with tortured mannequins are now arranged 🙂

Kyrenia FortressKyrenia castle

The fortress contains the remains of a Greek ship found in the sea near Kyrenia. To be honest, not much remains of this ship, but this is almost the only genuine skeleton of such an ancient sea vessel.

Kyrenia. Greek merchant ship. III century. BC.Kyrenia. Greek merchant ship. III century. BC.

On the mountain above Kyrenia is the Bellapais Abbey (White Abbey), named after the white cloaks of the Augustinians who inhabited it.

Bellapais AbbeyBellapais Abbey. XIII century

The ceilings have survived only in the church and the refectory (dining room), but you can get an impression of how the whole complex looked.

Bellapais AbbeyBellapais Abbey. XIII century

Cypresses, of course, were planted later, earlier behind these arches there was a covered courtyard surrounded by a gallery.

Bellapais AbbeyBellapais Abbey. XIII century

Bellapais AbbeyBellapais Abbey. XIII century

The road to the abbey leads through the village of the same name. It is clear that all this is exhibition and made especially for tourists, but it is still beautiful and I would like to believe that this is exactly how it looked in the XIV century. 🙂

Bellapais village Bellapais village

Even further in the mountains, almost at the top, is the castle of St. Hilarion. The name is modern, in honor of a monk who in the 4th century. built a church here (of course, nothing remained of it). The Byzantines called the fortress Didemos (Gemini), and the French called Diodeamur (Cupid’s castle).In the days of the French, the royal treasury was kept here, which is not surprising, given the inaccessibility of the castle, and the king himself visited to take a break from the heat in summer. Although, I would not say that it is much cooler on the mountain than below, except that the breeze is blowing.

St. Hilarion CastleSt. Hilarion Castle. X century

The views from the Kyrenia mountain are of course amazing. 732 meters above sea level.

St. Hilarion CastleSt. Hilarion Castle. X century

St. Hilarion. Byzantine churchSt. Hilarion. Byzantine church. X century

In general, like most similar structures, the castle looks much more impressive from below than from the inside.

See also the article on the Turkish part of Nicosia.

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