The city of Famagusta is one of the finest examples of mediaeval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean and, in its present state of preservation, is equal to that of the old cities of Carcassone and Ragusa.
One full day spent in Famagusta will reveal the history of Cyprus in a nutshell
By the year 1300 A.D. the town was one of the principal markets of the Eastern Mediterranean. This was the time of the
Crusades and when the rich Lusignan dynasty ruled Cyprus. Lusignans fortified the town, and in the thirteenth century built the beautiful Cathedral of St. Nicholas, transformed since then into a mosque.
Famagusta was the seat of a Latin diocese from the twelfth century and had residential bishops till the end of the sixteenth. The city is protected by ramparts which encircle the town and the citadel castle guarding the harbour, the best in Cyprus. This citadel or Othello's tower is the first main
focus of attention for visitors.
The period 1300 to 1400 is known as the golden age of Famagusta and was regarded as such by visiting merchants, who brought western Europe the tales of fabulous wealth in the various places.
After 1400, rival factions of Genoese and Venetian merchants settled there. The Genoese caused much strife until finally the Venetians took command of all Cyprus and transferred the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta in 1489.
The Venetians were in command for 82 years and it was from Famagusta that the whole island was governed. The Ottoman armada arrived outside the town in 1570 and put it under siege for a year. In 1571 not only Famagusta, but all Cyprus was under Ottoman Turkish rule and remained so until 1878. The end of the British colonial rule was in 1960.
See all Famagusta Photos.