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- Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque ( St. Nicholas Cathedral )
- St George Of The Latin Churce
- Salamis - Ancient Roman City
- Sinan Pasa Mosque ( St Peter & St Paul Church )
- Nestorian Church
- Engomi ( Alasia )
- Othello's Tower
- St Barnabas Monastery
- Canbulat Tomb & Museum
- St George Of The Greek Cathedral
- Namik Kemal Dungeon & Museum
- The Royal Palace

Founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt in the 3rd Century BC. Originally a fishing village Famagusta was grown by the influx of refugees first from Salamis in 648 then by the Christian Refugees after the invasion of the Holy Lands.(1291 AD.) It soon became one of the most important and wealthy cities in the region. At one time (early 14th Century) about 350 churches and many trading posts were built within the area later fortified with impressive defensive walls by the Venetians. In 1372 The Genoese invaded the island and the City sacking most of its wealth. In 1571 under the long siege by the Ottoman Turks many buildings were damaged by the cannon balls. The British used the stones to build the Suez Canal and the Quays of Port Said. In 1974 the City was again under siege by Greek Cypriots, with 11,000 Turkish Cypriots defending the City until it was ended by the arrival of the Turkish Troops. The important Historical monuments worth visiting are: The Walls and Bastions, Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St. Nicholas Cathedral) Othello Tower, Remains of Countless Mediaeval Churches. Salamis, Kings Tombs, St. Barnabas Monastery, The Ruins of Enkomi. The visitor will enjoy many fine beaches stretching miles along the coast of ancient Salamis.

Lala Mustafa Pasa

LALA MUSTAFA PASHA MOSQUE ( St. Nicholas Cathedral )
The building which was constructed between the years 1298-1312 in the Lusignan period is one of the most beautiful Gothic structures of the Meditteranean region. The Lusignan kings would be inaugurated as the King of Cyprus at the St. Sophia Cathedral in nicosia first, and following this they would be crowned as the King of Jerusalem at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in famagusta. These ceremonies continued to be held until 1571 when the cathedral was turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks. The architecture of the western front of the building has been influenced by the architecture of the Reims Cathedral. It has an unparalleled window with Gothic style tracery. The 16th century Venetian gallery in the courtyard is today used as a reservoir for ablutions.

Lala Mustafa Pasa

A Venetian insignia can be seen above the circular windows at the entrance. The relief ornamented with animal figures is thought to have been brought from a temple in Salamis. The apsis of the cathedral is in the Eastern style and is composed of three parts as in most Cyprus churches. The windows in the top part have been well preserved. There are two chapels at the side. The cumbez tree in front -a tropical fig tree- is a rare tree in the north of the island.


Constructed in the late 13th century, the church is one of the beautiful examples of the Gothic style of architecture. Material from the Salamis ruins was used in its construction. It is thought to have been modelled on the St. Chapelle church in Paris. It has a nave with five sections and a chancel. What has survived throughout the years is this chancel and the northern wall. The wide, tall windows once had Gothic traceries. That the church had been constructed before the city-walls is evident from the rampart like structure of the building.


The ancient city of Salamis became the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1100 BC. The city shared the destiny of the rest of the island during the successive occupations by the various dominant powers of the Near East, viz. the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Romans. The ancient site covers an area of one square mile extending along the sea shore. There is still a large area awaiting excavation and this is forested with mimosa, pine and eucalyptus trees.


The finding of some gold coins bearing the name of Evagoras, 411 to 374 BC, is the first genuine evidence of the city's importance. A severe earthquake destroyed the city in 76 AD after which the Gymnasium with its colonnaded Palaestra was built by Trajan and Hadrian. This is the most monumental part of the site but columns differ in size because after the second great earthquake of 331 AD, the Christians set up new columns which they dragged from the Roman theatre.

The theatre with 50 rows of seats and a seating capacity of 15,000 is the second most spectacular sight. All around the buildings that have been excavated are many niches which contained marble statues, and those that can be seen are headless. When Christianity was adopted as a state religion, all these nude statues were to them an abhorence, and were thrown into drains or were broken up. In fact, any indications of Roman pagan religion such as mosaic pictures were effaced or destroyed.


The Romans had an obsession about baths, and in the Great Hall buildings one can make out the Sudatorium (hot baths), the Caldarium (steam bath) and Frigidarium (cold baths). Before the Christian period, ie. before 400 AD, it was quite a colourful city; the marble columns were covered with coloured stucco, coloured statues, and numerous polychrome mosaics of which only a few are left. It was during the Christian period that walls with rectangular towers at regular intervals were built, but all that one can see of these today are mounds of sand dunes.

The late Roman period after 400 AD up to about 1100 AD is known as the Byzantine epoch, when the first great Christian churches, called basilicas, were built. The visitors should see the St Epiphanos and Campanopetra, for they are the largest churches in Cyprus.


About 674 AD, Arab invasion brought about the destruction of the entire city and the inhabitants fled south to build the medieval town of Famagusta (Magusa). There must have been a great change in the climate as the city was overwhelmed with sand, and only the tops of the columns peeped above. Coins of the Middle Ages, Lusignan period, were found around the basilicas, from which one can conclude that squatters lived in the ruins perhaps up to about 1300 AD.

For the next six hundred years the ancient site was looted and regarded as a quarry for building. During the Venetian occupation of Famagusta, many columns and pieces of sculpture were dragged from the site. The constant looting was not halted until 1952 AD when organised excavations by the Department of Antiquities began.

The archeological site is the most spectacular in the island because the ruins are very extensive and are in a wonderful state of preservation. For more than a thousand years, the Roman city of Salamis lay buried in sands which saved the site from wanton destruction in the Middle Ages. It must be remembered that all the ancient ruins in Europe were -free for all- quarries for the builders of the medieval castles. It was not until the late 19th century that various governments formed departments of antiquities which began keeping a watchful eye on ruins. In a similar way, Pompeii lay buried in volcanic ash, and was also saved from vandalism. As Pompeii is to Italy, so is Salamis to Cyprus.

Sinan Pasa

SINAN PASA MOSQUE (St. Peter & St. Paul Church)
The church of St. Peter and St. Paul has not only borne witness to almost seven centuries of this struggle, but stands as an icon of the rich and transient dynastic rivalries which in turn molded the identity, and therefore the appearance, of modern Cyprus. Though overshadowed, undoubtedly, by the ‘The Daughter of Notre Dame of Rheims’[St. Nicholas Cathedral], both now seem architecturally and doctrinally out of context in a Muslim (verging on secular) society, on an island in the far reaches of the Eastern Mediterranean, where their decaying remains stand as a symbol of wealth and power from long forgotten halcyon days in the island’s history.As a barometer of civic pride, refined aesthetics and Northern European engineering prowess, the church represents only a fragmented hint, a shatttered remnant, of this brief cultural zenith and period of extreme economic prosperity. Surrounding SS. Peter and Paul are the ruins of Greek and Latin churches, Venetian palaces and crusaders’ fortifications, which, though fundamentally different in doctrine and architecture, at some point in history met a similar calamitous fate. The church of St. Peter and St. Paul, whether used as a mosque, a barn, a grain store, a petroleum repository or a library in the past, has now been disused for some time. It does, however, defiantly remind us of its raison d’etre, symbolizing the intended permanence of the Medieval church and embodying the great outpouring and abundance of labour, skill, faith and wealth, so typical of the Lusignan era.

The Nestorians or Chaldeans originally came from Syria. They used the Chaldean language in their liturgy. The Nestorian Church was only one of several Semitic churches that had separated from Greek Orthodoxy in the 5th century over the contentious issue of the mixture of God and man in the person of Jesus. They are now represented by the Assyrians of Iraq (Mesopotamia).

Nestorian Church

Wealthy Syrian Christian traders occupied the high land in the north-west corner of the medieval old town of Famagusta. In 1359 during the reign of King Pierre I, the fabulously wealthy Francis Lachas and his brother began work on a church for their fellow Syrians of the Nestorian Church. The result is surprisingly modest for this pair of brothers, whose daughters wore jewellery richer than that of the kings of France. It began as a single-aisled chapel, which was then doubled in size, a porch tacked onto the central nave and courtyards added to taste. This organic growth contrasts with the neat triple apse of the east end and the clean lines of the belfry façade with its pair of lancet windows.

The interior retains only patches of its once rich and diverse frescoes, which were accompanied by Syriac script. Other peculiar features include the variegated stones of the altar arch and the Romanesque zigzag decoration cut into the arch of the original courtyard gate. It is tempting to see this as a deliberate archaic reference to the architecture common in the old Crusader states of Palestine.

ENGOMI (Alasia)
At Engomi, archeologists have uncovered the remains of a great Bronze Age city, possibly that of ancient Alasia, whose kings shipped copper to the Pharaohs of Egypt.The site contains some of the richest Bronze Age tombs ever excavated.Items discovered there include gold and ivory objects, imitation diamonds, glass vases, and rare examples of Mycenian pottery.

The evidence of an Achaean settlement at Engomi supports the legend that nearby Salamis was founded by Greek colonists led by Teucer soon after the Trojan War.It was first investigated by a British Museum Expedition in 1896, when a number of tombs containing rich finds was opened. In 1913 Sir John Myres together with Cyprus Museum and in 1930 the Swedish Cyprus Expedition led by Prof. Gjerstad excavated a score of tombs.


The earliest remains at Engomi beginning of the second millennium B.C. (2000-1700) which correspond with the Middle Bronze Age.A period of prosperity for Enkomi begins about 1550 B.C. Enkomi become an important centre of copper, where the copper worked and then exported to the East.

The most brilliant period of Engomi begins about 1450 B.C. Her cooper products were sent abroad both to the East and to the West. Its name was then Alasia and under this name Cyprus is reffered to in a correspondance between the king of Alasia and the pharaoh of Egypt, Amenophis IV (1370-1352 B. C.). During that time Engomi- Alasia was fortified with a strong wall.

Cyprus had become a part of the Hitite Empire between 1500 and 1450 B.C. It was used as an exile place of the Hitite kings upon the state archives in Bogazkoy (Hattusas).

By the end of the 1300 B.C. Engomi - Alasia was conquered and destroyed by "The people of sea". It was however rebuilt. Later in the 12th century an earthquake destroyed part of the city again. In the early 11th century B.C. the city was finally abandoned.

Othello's tower is the medieval fortress or citadel guarding both the harbour and the town of Famagusta. This is referred to in one of Shakespeare's plays in which Othello is described as a Moor. This is not so; it is the name of a Venetian governor of 1506. However, Shakespeare knew little about Cyprus and had never been there. The entrance to the tower is shown in the picture and is pierced through the Venetian fortifications which date from between 1500 and 1550.

Otello Tower

Above the gateway is a marble slab on which sculptured the badge of Venice, a winged lion, so frequently seen in other parts of Cyprus such as in Kyrenia Castle, Nicosia, and Bellapais Abbey. Inscription on the marble reads `Nicolo Foscarini, the Venetian Captain', together with the Venetian lion of St. Mark.

An aerial view would show the shell of the medieval castle inside the Venetian Walls and an imaginary sketch of this is shown here. As a result of the inventions of gunpowder and cannon, the Venetians altered the castles in order to suit the needs of their artillery. Usually they did not destroy the old walls, they were far too thick, but the old square towers were replaced with round ones.

It should be obvious that a rectangular tower could easily have its corners knocked off by gunfire. Wherever the old walls were preserved, they were pierced by gunports. On entering the courtyard of the citadel there are some interesting old cannon lying on the ground. One of them is made of bronze and is in excellent condition after being out in the wind and rain for 400 years. It is Spanish, and this kind of alloy metal was much favoured by the

Spaniards in their great galleons. Cannon were fired by a red hot poker inserted into a hole at one end, but sometimes, owing to faulty methods of casting, guns exploded and then there was a nasty accident. The Turkish cannon had iron rings along the muzzle and can be seen in the courtyard. There are some cannon balls lying about and most are of cast iron.

Otello Tower

Inside the Walls is the Great Hall, and with the large kitchen at one end, it is presumed that this was the refectory or dining hall. It dates from about 1300 and is massively constructed with a vaulted roof supported by tall Gothic arches. Windows were usually very small for defence purposes and no glass was used, pieces of cloth or carpets kept out wind and rain. However, in those times it could be a quite comfortable place with fine tapestries on the wall and huge fires blazing away at one end, where the whole carcass of a moufflon could be roasted. Not faroutside the town there is vast interior plain of Cyprus known as the Mesarya and here the nobles were hunting.

Steps lead up to the embattlements where there is a fine view of both ancient and modern harbours. Modern ships still use the same harbour entrance as it was in the golden age of Famagusta, 1300 to 1400 A.D. In those times harbours were defended by a huge iron chain slung across the water, and just by the entrance, and the opposite the Citadel, can be seen a clump of rocks on a promontory where there was the chain tower. The chain was lowered into the water when enemy ships were in the offing. The other harbour in Northern Cyprus, Kyrenia, was also defended by chain and there the chain tower still stands in the middle of the harbour.

St Barnabas

The Monastery of St. Barnabas is at the opposite side of the Salamis-Famagusta road, by the Royal Tombs. You can easily tell it by its two fairly large domes. It was built to commemorate the foremost saint of Cyprus, whose life was so intertwined with the spread of the Christian message in the years immediately following the death of Christ.Barnabas was a native of the ancient city Salamis, and was a Jew, though his family had been settled for some time in Cyprus. His real name was in fact Joses, or Joseph; Barnabas was the name given to him by the early Christian apostles because he was recognised as `a son of Prophecy', or as Luke puts it `a son of consolation'. There is no contradiction here. Luke is merely emphasising that one of the great historic functions of prophecy was to console the believer and keep him in the faith.

He was reputed to be an inspired teacher of Christianity, but more than that he played a very great role in the development of early Christianity. He was also the man to acknowledge that Paul's conversion to Christianity was absolutely sincere, and above all he recognised the genius of Paul, whom he introduced to the Christian fellowship in Jerusalem. When Barnabas was later sent to Antioch to supervise the work of the early Church there, he had Paul as his assistant. Later still, of course, he undertook his great missionary journey with Paul, visiting among other places, his own country of Cyprus.

St Barnabas

Finally, of course, we know certainly that Paul and Barnabas had a strong diffrence of opinion about Barnabas' nephew, John Mark, and the two friends parted company. Paul wrote later that the rift was healed but by that time Barnabas was probably already back in Cyprus.

The monastery which bears Barnabas' name was originally built in the last part of the fifth century, to commemorate the discovery of his body, and the dignity and the seniority it brought to the early Christian Church of Cyprus. Parts of the early building have been preserved in the more recent churh which was built by Archbishop Philotheos in 1756. The money for the purchase of the land on which the monastery was built, is supposed to have been provided by the Byzantine Emperor at the time Barnabas' body was found.

When you look carefully at the church you will notice the traces of the original fifth century building and also places it seems to have been enlarged and changed, probably in the very late mediaeval period. But in the main it is fairly conventional Greek Orthodox architecture of the eighteen century.

St Barnabas

On one of the walls, the story of how Barnabas' body was shown to the Archbishop in a dream, is rendered in small pictures. These were done in the present century, but some of the icons and statues are a good deal older.

On another wall, somewhat incongruously, hang wax replicas of limbs in a gesture of gratitude for the ailing limbs which the Apostle Barnabas is supposed to have miraculously cured. Close by, the image of st. Heraklion stares at you from every angle you choose. All these items, ancient and modern have been very well looked after and are shown with great oride by the curator of the church.

The marble columns supporting the domes are conspicuous and rather spectacular. It is impossible to be certain, but these may well have come from Salamis. In one sense, the little rock tomb in which Barnabas is supposed to have been found gives the authentic flavour of the Christian evangelist and martyr much more effectively.

The church of St Barnabas is exactly as it was when its last three monks left it in 1976. The church apparatus ; pulpits, wooden lectern, and pews are still in place. It houses a rich collection of painted and gilt icons mostly dating from the 18th century.

The carved blocks and capital blocks in the garden and cloister courtyard come from Salamis. The black basalt grinding mill come from Enkomi. The cloister of the monastery have recently been restored and at present serve as the archaeological museum. This section houses an exquisite collection of ancient pottery displayed chronologically, representing the changes in morphology and decoration of pottery in Cyprus from the Neolithic to the Roman times. The rest of the collection covers bronze and marble art objects.

The main road from Nicosia to Famagusta docks passes alongside the Canbulat's Bastion (Arsenale).

Canbulat, the Squire (Bey) of Kilis in Turkey, was one of the high-ranking Ottoman soldiers in the conquest of Cyprus in 1570-1. He took part in all of the operations, and distinguished himself by his valour, especially in the capture of Nicosia. After the capture of Nicosia, the main army moved to Famagusta, the strongest point of defence of the Venetians in Cyprus, and laid siege to it on 18th September, 1570.


Canbulat was among the officers commanding the right wing of the Turkish army, which was placed to the south of the walled city. According to an old legend about his martyrdom , Canbulat Bey drove his horse on the big grinding knife which was mounted by the Venetians to the entrance of the Arsenal Bastion in order to prevent the advance of the Turkish Army. Thus he was martyred but the doors for the conquest of Famagusta were opened for his army. He was buried in the grounds of the same bastion, for which he had given his life and a tomb was erected over his resting place. The tomb has since been restored and it is a place of pilgrimage for Turks, ranking after the Hala Sultan (Umm Haram) Tekke at Larnaca.

The precincts leading to the tomb have been converted into a museum in 1968 and it owns many fine examples of the Turkish folk art. It is a large round tower made very conspicuous by the modern lighthouse perched on top.


Outside this tower and along the moat the Ottoman Turkish artillery were encamped in 1570 and it is from here that the town was bombarded. This is the reason why so many churches within the walls show damage on the side facing this spot. Fierce fighting went on here for nearly a year, as the visitor can see today with the gaping cavities along the walls and towers.

The Ottomans tried to mine into the tower at the base and the results of their efforts are still very visible. In spite of the use of gunpowder the attempt failed, owing to the great thickness of the walls and showers of missiles hurled from the battlements above. All around the moat, one can come across pieces of iron from carts and cannon and of course many cannon balls.

This cathedral was probably built in opposition to the nearby Latin (Roman Catholic) cathedral of St. Nicholas (now Lala Mustafa Pasha mosque). An exterior view of the apse at the eastern end is shown above.

St George

Here we have the typical semicircular apse while the central part of the cathedral had a large dome which in this case has been blown off in 1571. Notice how the bombardment came from one side, and this is the side facing the distant bastion of Canbulat, where the Turkish artillery was deployed in 1570.

As you go round the various churches, it will be observed that most of the damage is on the the side facing Canbulat. One must remember, also, that the city of Famagusta suffered from two severe earthquakes in mid 18th century.

St George

With the numerous cannon balls lying about both in among the ruins and in private gardens, one gets the impression that the siege only took place a few years ago. This is why Famagusta as a historical centre unique in all Cyprus.

Inside the cathedral are some fragments of wall painting, then best being in the eastern apse. In the nave are the foundations of some Roman columns where the method of binding stones with iron ties is visible. The use of iron ties for constructing masonry without cement was often used by the Romans in harbours and jetties.

This two-storeyed hewn stone dungeon was built, during the Ottoman era, on the ruins of the old Royal Palace .

Namik Kemal (1840-1888), a distinguished nationalist poet and novelist, spent his thirty-eight months in this dungeon when he was sent into exile by the Ottoman Sultan on April 9th 1873 soon after the first performance of his play 'Vatan or Silistre' at Gedik Pasha Theatre in Istanbul on April 1, 1873.

Namik Kemal

The ground floor, with only one vaulted cell is in the shape of a rectangle and it has low arched entrance door which opens on to the courtyard of the Venetian Palace as well as the two windows in the same wall. When Namik Kemal came to Famagusta, he first stayed at the ground floor, but after a while he was taken to the second storey with the permission of the Cyprus Governor, Veysi Pasa. The steep stone stairs at the side of the building take you to the rectangular second storey which has two large windows, a landing in the front, a marble floor and a timbered ceiling.

After having been forgiven by Murat V. on June 3rd 1876, Namik Kemal returned to Istanbul on June 29th 1876.

Restoration of the Namik Kemal Dungeon and Museum was started at the beginning of 1993 and completed it within a short period of six months. Organization of the museum was made with the collaboration of the Ministry of Education and Culture.

It was originally the Royal Palace of the Lusignans, built in the 13th century, just opposite the St. Nicholas Cathedral (now Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque).

It was in this palace that the Kings and Queens of Cyprus were crowned until the reign of' Peter II in 1369. As it was ruined by an earthquake little now remains of this palace of the Lusignans.

Royal Palace

All that remains is the shell of the western portion of it, a large ''L'' shaped building of the early sixteenth century and its facade, a magnificent piece of architecture consisting of three arches supported by four grand columns brought from Salamis. Over the central arch stands the coat-of-arms of Giovanni Renier, Captain of Cyprus in 1552.
Beyond and inside the courtyard are numerous cannon balls and pieces of a large granite column.

After the Ottoman conquest in 1571, the Palace was used as a prison. Among the prisoners was Namik Kemal, the Shakespeare of the Turkish literature, who was held there between 1873 and 1876, having been exiled to Cyprus after criticising the Sultan. Next to the Namik Kemal prison is a museum about him and his works. There is a bronze bust of the poet facing the square, by the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque.

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