Last modified: 2009-04-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: northern cyprus: turkish republic of | famagusta | gazimagusa | ammokhostos |
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Flag of Famagusta - Image by Onur Özgün, 1 September 2001
Quoting the municipal website:
Famagusta is one of the most important, greatly fortified ports on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. To the north of Famagusta lie the fabulous ruins of Salamis. This once great town is believed to have been founded in the 11th century BC and after the influences of the many conquering nations - notably the Romans- the city was finally abandoned in 648 AD following the combined catastrophes of earthquake and raids by Arab pirates, when the population moved to Famagusta.
The spectacular ruins give a fascinating insight into long-lost civilizations and include a magnificent amphitheatre, Roman baths, a gymnasium and royal tombs. The mosaics are particularly beautiful. Just inland from Famagusta are the church and monastery dedicated to St. Barnabas, the founder of the apostolic church on Cyprus in 45 AD. Barnabas a Cypriot from Salamis, visited the island accompanied by St. Paul and St. Mark and was later martyred in Salamis in 52 AD. The church of St. Barnabas is preserved exactly as it was since abandoned in 1976. There is a wonderful collection of 18th century icons and the monastery cloisters now houses an archaeological museum.
The name of the town in Turkish is Gazimağusa and in Greek Ammokhostos. It lies on the east coast in a bay between Capes Greco and Eloea, east of Nicosia, and possesses the deepest harbour in Cyprus. Famagusta is a Frankish corruption of its Greek name, which means "buried in the sand", descriptive of the silted mouth of the Pedieos River north of the town. It was founded as Arsinoe by the Macedonian Egyptian King Ptolemy II (308-246 BC). An influx of Christian refugees fleeing the downfall of Acre (1291) in Palestine transformed it from a tiny village into one of the richest towns in Christendom. In 1372 the port was seized by Genoa and in 1489 by Venice, and in 1571 it fell to the Turks. Ravaged by war and earthquakes, the old walled town is now only partially inhabited, but it contains some of the finest examples of medieval military architecture extant and the 14th-century Gothic-style St. Nicholas cathedral, now a mosque.
Under the British administration (1878-1960) the modern section, called Varosha, was developed in large part as a tourist resort. After 1974, Varosha was sealed off to civilians and tourism ceased. Ferry service, begun in 1978 between Mersin, Turkey, and Latakia, Syria, includes Famagusta in its run.
Valentin Poposki, 7 December 2008
The flag of Famagusta, as seen on TV images, is white with the emblem of the town in the middle.
The building shown on the emblem is the cathedral-mosque of Famagusta. Built as the St. Nicholas (Hagios Nikolaos) cathedral in the beginning of the 14th century on the model of the Gothic cathedral of Reims (France), the cathedral lost its two towers during the siege of the town by the Ottomans in 1571. After the conquest of the town, the Muslims transformed the cathedral into the Lala Mustapha Pacha Mosque, building a minaret on the side of the church and removing most Christian elements (statues, coloured windows).
Onur Özgün & Ivan Sache, 7 December 2008.