Museums and sites in  Northern Cyprus

 

 

Directory

 

1.      Girne/Kyrenia region. 

 

2.      Famagusta/Magosa/Ammochostos region. 

 

3.      Güzelyurt/West coast region. 

 

4.      Karpaz peninsula region. 

 

5.      The capital Nicosia. 

 

 


 

 

1.    Girne/Kyrenia region

 

 

St. Hilarion castle

 

At a height of 730 m St Hilarion castle is the westernmost and best preserved of the three redoubts built by the Byzantines and Crusaders.

With walls and towers that appear to sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it is a fairy-tale sight living up to Rose Macaulay's much-quoted description ”a picture-book castle for elf-kings” and the rumour that Walt Disney used it as a model for the castle in Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. The legend that was spread locally says that St Hilarion housed 101 rooms, of which 100 could easily be found; the last, an enchanted garden with a magnificent treasure belonging to an elusive “queen” of Cypriot folklore, most probably a holdover of Aphrodite worship.

 

 

Bellapais Monastery 1,5h

 

Located in the majestic Five Finger Mountains in Kyrenia, the Bellapais Monastery is a fine example of Gothic architecture, and is thought to have been started between 1198 and 1205, with more sections being added after 1267 and after 1324.

 

Do not miss the refectory where you can admire a nice sample of Gothic art. Explore the priests’ rooms that are located to the east of the courtyard. You will find the dormitories and chamber of accounts on the upper level. Explore the marble tombs in the courtyard, and take in the insignias of the Jerusalem, Lusignans, and the Cyprus Kingdoms, which can be found on the door behind the tombs.

 

In addition to enjoying the historical value and architectural beauty of the Bellapais Monastery, you can also enjoy spending time in a beautiful part of Kyrenia, and enjoying stunning views and surroundings.

 

 

Kyrenia Castle 1h

 

Kyrenia castle lies to the North-East of Kyrenia town and stands at the entrance to the harbour at Kyrenia. The original castle which is thought to have been built in the 7th century A.D. by the Byzantines for the purpose of defending Kyrenia against Arab raiders and pirates in the early 7th century. The castle has had various additions made to it during the reign of the Lusignans and was given its present form by the Venetians. 

 

The castle also houses a Shipwreck Museum, which displays the remains of a 2,300-year-old Greek ship and its cargo, recovered from the sea in the 1960s. The sailors apparently lived on almonds: thousands of them were recovered from the wreck. 

 

 

Folk Arts museum at the harbour 1h

 

The Folk Arts Museum is a truly fascinating historical attraction, where you can spend time exploring fascinating architecture, textiles, and more. You will find traditional Cypriot buildings when you come to the Folk Arts Museum, and there is plenty to explore here.

 

You can enjoy taking in the traditional Cypriot houses that can be found here, and you will find a wide range of Cypriot items within the house on both the lower and upper levels. The houses are two level properties and are an example of pre-XVII architecture. The museum itself opened up in 1974.

 

 

 Antifonitis Church with short walking tour (only by full day tours) 3h

 

The Antiphonitis (alt. Antiphonitis) Church is a beautiful and unusual structure about 20 km away from Kyrenia. This church formed part of the old monastery, and many of the frescoes as well as the entrance date back to the 12th – 15th Century. We combine the visit with a light, about 4 km long walking tour in the spring, where we can observe orchids, rockrose and other botanical items of the Mediterranean Maquis.

 

 


 

 

2.    Famagusta/Magosa/Ammochostos region

 

 

St. Barnabas 1,5h

 

St Barnabas is credited with introducing Christianity to Cyprus together with Apostle Paul. His activities displeased the powerful Jewish community in Salamis and their reaction was to stone him to death. His body was buried in a secret location by his cousin Mark. The story might have ended there but, 400 years later, Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Salamis and revealed the location of his tomb. A monastery was founded on the site of the tomb in the 5th century but the present build dates from 1756. The former monk’s cells around the inner courtyard now house an archaeological collection arranged clockwise from the Bronze Age to the Venetian period. The church is now an icon museum although the best ones were stolen many years ago.

 

 

Salamis Ruins 1,5h (by special historical / archaeological interest up to 4h)

 

We visit the excavations of the antique town Salamis, which used to have 150.000 inhabitants and was the capital of Cyprus as far back as 1.100 BC. The Gymnasium, the baths and the amphitheatre with a capacity of 15.000 are preserved from its golden times. The extended excavation area covers the ruins of the St Epiphanus basilica with its wonderful mosaics, the temple of Zeus and the Forum. 

 

 

The Royal Tombs 1h

 

The Royal Tombs are a small part of the necropolis of Salamis, which has been excavated and open for public visits. The museum exhibits samples of the grave mounds, which can be viewed outdoor. The tombs, constructed in the 7th and 8th centuries BC were actually built over 500 years after the events of the Trojan War. Many fascinating finds were made such as an ivory-inland throne and bed, plus numerous objects in precious metals and ivory.

 

 

Othello Tower 0,5h

 

The Othello Tower was the last defence post on the town walls and was originally built as a moated citadel in order to protect Famagusta's harbour. The name was given later by the English in connection with Shakespeare's "Othello" theatre play.

 

 


 

 

3.    Güzelyurt/West coast region

 

 

The blue house/Mavi Kösk – closed on Mondays 1h

 

The house of Paola Pavlidis, the alleged advocate of Archbishop Makarios and more renowned for his weapon smuggle activities, is one of the most curious and interesting sightseeing in Northern Cyprus. The nicely decorated in the 50’s built property was visited by renowned celebrities such as Sofia Loren. It exhibits some peculiar architectural features worth seeing. Today it lies inside a military area and can only be visited with advanced notification and upon presentation of ID / passport.

 

 

St. Mamas and Archaeological Museum 1h

 

St Mamas is believed to be the protector of tax evaders!... and also an ear, nose and throat specialist under the Cypriot Orthodox saints. We visit the icon museum (formerly church) and the adjacent archaeological museum with its newest discoveries such as ‘’The Golden Leaves of Soli’’.

 

 

Ruins and mosaics of Soli 1h

 

The mosaics of the huge St Auxibius basilica exhibit the evolution of mosaics in the 4th and 5th century AD. The Theatre of Soli with a capacity of 5.000 visitors offers marvellous views of the Güzelyurt Bay.

 

 

Vouni Palace 1h

 

The Vouni Palace was a Persian military estate with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Troodos mountains.

 

 


 

 

4.    Karpaz peninsula region

 

 

Kantara Castle 1,5h

 

We visit the Kantara castle to enjoy the amazing panoramic views of the Besparmak Mountains, the Mesaria fields and Famagusta. By good weather we can even see the Taurus Mountains on the Turkish mainland.

 

 

Agias Trias 1h

 

The ruins of the early Christian basilica in the near of the village Sipahi (one of the last spots of Northern Cyprus, where Greek Cypriots are still living) gain their importance from the remarkable floor mosaics.

 

 

Iskele Panagía Theotókos Church 1h

 

The Panagia Theotokus Church built in the 12th Century was dedicated to St Mary and is a chief masterwork of byzantine architecture and fresco painting art.

 

 

 


 

5.    The capital Nicosia

 

 

Stone museum

 

In the stone museum we can admire the vestiges of the state palace of the Lusignans built in gothic style.

 

 

Derwisch Pascha House

 

An ethnographic museum in the house of Derwisch Pascha, who was the editor of the first newspaper in Cyprus.

 

 

Mevlevi Monastery

 

The monastery of whirling dervishes was closed in 1953 and serves today as a museum for Sufi culture.

 

 

Southern Cyprus: Ledra Museum KH Debenhams

 

Panoramic view on both parts of the town (North and South) from the 11th floor of the Debenhams’ mall

 

 

Southern Cyprus: Byzantine museum in the Archbishop’s palace

 

A stunning collection of byzantine art

 

 

Southern Cyprus:  Archaeological Museum

 

The archaeological museum exhibits the history of 10.000 years. Reserve a half day for it!

 

 

Southern Cyprus:  Dragoman house

 

Dragoman was the mediator between the Greek speaking population in Cyprus and the ottoman government.