North Cyprus is a quiet and beautiful country with friendly
helpful people. It is easy to get carried away in Cyprus . This is Aphrodites
Island where the goddess of love drifted ashore on a sea shell.
I have scented her perfume all over the island in the
white anemones that are said to be her tears over the death of her lover,
At the baths of Aphrodite, a fresh-water pool where she
bathed, I have dipped my hands in crystal-clear water, hoping a little
of the eternal youth it promises might seep in. Cyprus has romance in
abundance, and I hope one day to spend my retirement here.
minutes drive from the villa, the old harbour of Kyrenia (Girne)
is described in guidebooks as "the jewel of Cyprus", indeed
the jewel of the Mediterranean.
The Old Harbour, which bustles
with small yachts, is a small bay enclosed by a breakwater,
with a medieval castle guarding the entrance. In the evening,
you have the choice of eating at a table next to the yachts
or on a roof top restaurant, Chennis, with a view across the
Next to the castle is the Anglican church of St Andrew,
built in 1913 on the mound created when the castle mount was dug. In 1976
the east end of the church collapsed.
Andrew's Day, 30 November 2003 the reconstructed church was reopened
with an additional room dug into the mound below. The church is
a centre for the British community and there are rarely less than
100 attending the Sunday service, an impressive number when expressed
as a percentage of the 627 Brits registered with the High Commission
as permanent residents of North Cyprus.
A short drive up the hill from Girne is the Abbey of Bellapais,
perched on the mountainside with superb views across the coastal
plain. It was in Bellapais that Laurence Durrall wrote his book
"Bitter Lemons". In the capital, Lefkosa (Nicosia), visit
the old walled city, the medieval market of Büyük Han
and the Church of St Sophia (founded in 1209), converted to Selimiye
Mosque in 1570, retaining the tombs of Christian crusaders.
If you are looking for remote, unspoilt shorelines, the
beaches on which the turtles breed (to the east of Girne) are wild and
beautiful. In the Karpas peninsula is a three mile sand beach that, when
we visited, was populated by only two people and a dog.
strategic importance of Cyprus is demonstrated by the impressive
remains of the Roman city of Salamis and the strategic importance
has continued into modern times. Until 1976, Alsancak was the site
of a large US intelligence gathering station employing 50 linguists
to listen to radio traffic in the USSR and Eastern Europe.
Vouni, a one hour drive west from the villa, you stand in
the middle of a large palace, dating from the fifth century
BC, dramatically perched on a cliff. this archaeological site
in Cyprus is the small Roman villa of Ayios Trias at Sipahi,
where you walk around rooms with beautifully preserved mosaic
floors, inhabited now just by lizards sunning themselves.
If your taste is ruined castles, there are few more dramatically
sited than the medieval castles of St Hilarion and Buffavento.
control the route through the mountain from Girne to Lefkosa. St
Hilarion was a strategic position occupied by Turkish Cypriot fighters
and the site of a battle on 25 April 1964, when Greek Cypriots tried
to storm the castle, eventually halted by UN action. Again, in July
1974, Turkish Cypriot fighters guarded the fortress of St Hilarion
until the Turkish troops joined up with them.
The first landing
of 6,000 Turkish troops on 20 July 1974 was on the beach a mile
east of Alsancak. Greeks have inhabited Cyprus since 500 BC, or
earlier. Turks have inhabited Cyprus since it became part of the
Ottoman empire in 1571. From 1931 onwards Greek Cypriots called
for uniting Cyprus with Greece and a relationship with the Turkish
minority became difficult, often violent.
that year, the British Government Villa was burnt down by
Greek agitators. Independence was given by Britain to Cyprus
in 1960, under a constitution that gave Cyprus a Greek Cypriot
president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president; the vice-president
later stated that in the following 14 years he only met the
president once. The relationship between the two communities
deteriorated until on 15 July 1974 there was a Greek coup
which ousted the president; on 20 July 1974 Turkish troops
landed in Cyprus to support the Turkish Cypriots.
Northern part of the island (34% of the land area) was, in 1983,
declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In November 2002,
the UN published a proposal for a settlement between the Turkish
community and the Greek community. In April 2003 the border between
Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus was opened. The general election
on 14 December 2003 resulted in a parliament split equally between
those for and those against the the UN plan for the creation of
a confederation of North and South Cyprus.
April 2004, separate referenda in North and in South Cyprus on this
"Annan Plan" resulted in 64.9% of the North Cyprus electorate voting
in favour of the plan, but 75.8% of the South Cyprus electorate
rejecting the plan. On 1 May 2004, South Cyprus joined the European
Union alone. Events in 2009 are awaited with interest.