On Wednesday we had a bus tour to visit Salamis and Famagusta in Northern Cyprus.
Salamis is an ancient city that was founded after the Trojan War. This was the first stop that St. Paul made on his first missionary journey.
It had been the capital of Cyprus back around 1100 BC. Over time it had been ruled by the Persians, Egyptians, Assyrians and Romans. It was partially destroyed by earthquakes and tidal waves.
It was completely lost during an Arab invasion in around 674 AD. Salamis was looted over the next 600 years as basically a quarry. Looting pretty much continued until 1952 when it became a proper archeological site.
Many of the pagan and Roman statues were defaced in 400 AD during the Christian period.
The ancient theatre has a seating capacity of 15,000.
|Church of St. Barnabas|
On the way to Famagusta is the Church of Saint Barnabas which until 1976 was a working monastery.
The church is now an icon museum and there is also a small archaeological museum.
Saint Barnabas founded the Cypriot Orthodox Church and the country's patron saint. He was martyred in 52 AD. There is a small mausoleum built on the site where his remains were discovered. The tomb was renovated in 1953.
Famagusta was founded in 274 BC and has a population of about 41,000. It was founded around 274 BC and I think it's the 4th largest city on Cyprus. In Turkish it is called Gazimaǧusa and in Greek it is Αμμόχωστος (pronounced Ammochostos).
|St. Francis Church|
Legend has it that the city used to have one church for every day of the year which is why the old town is nicknamed "the city of 365 churches."
|St. George's Church|
However today most of them have fallen in to disrepair.
|Sinan Pasha Mosque|
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul dates back to 1359. In 1571 it was converted to the Sinan Pasha Mosque.
After Cyprus gained independence the Famagusta's Varosha suburb became one of the best known jet set vacation destinations.
Varosha, (Βαρώσια in Greek and Maraş in Turkish), was an economic center and had more than 50% of the island's hotels until the 1974 Turkish invasion.
During the invasion Greek Cypriots evacuated. Most probably believed that they would be able to return in a few days.
The Turks fenced off the quarter and entry is still forbidden to the public. It's basically a ghost town now. Photography is prohibited which is odd considering it sits on a beautiful beach.