Our last two days in Northern Cyprus were spent visiting Nicosia & Famagusta. The drive from Kyrenia to Nicosia is a easy one along a nice duel carriageway and took around 40 minutes. We decided to visit the old ancient walled part of the city as the historical aspect was alluring. Walking around the old city is like a walk back in time with its narrow streets and many street cafe’s, bars and restaurants and kebab houses it’s well worth the visit in my opinion. Whilst within the city walls make sure you visit Büyük Han (Han means inn) it’s a great example of Oterman architecture and is a rare surviving example of a medieval caravanserai, which is a place where traders and travellers would come and stay and stable there horses and trade there wares. Situated in the centre of the old city it bustles with cafes, shops and traditional craft workshops. In the central courtyard is a Mescrit (Islamic chapel) which is one of only three surviving in Turkey in inns of this type. The city itself is divided completely in two between Turkey and Cyprus by what is know as the green, line but as the border restrictions were lifted in 2003 it is possible to go between the two in effect countries by means of pedestrian crossing at Ledra Palace, or Ledra Street, just make sure you have your passport with you as you will be unable to cross without it. Seeing the streets divided by just a wall between North and South and the building between the two covered in barbed wire is a surreal experience. I do hope that one day the two countries can sort out there differences and Cyprus can become one again, but I fear that having spoken to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots about the situation I detect by the deep inbreed bitterness on both sides this will be a long way off.
Famagusta lies on the east coast of the island right in the border between North and South, it too has a ancient walled city at its centre very similar in many ways to Nicosia’s old town, it too is well worth the visit. But Famagusta has a far more infamous tourist attraction and that is the abandoned town of Verosia. Once a booming seaside resort with grand hotels, shops and restaurants and miles of sandy beaches it now lies abandoned, a ghost town. All its occupants fled during the Turkish invasion in 1974 and left everything thinking that they would return in a few days once the emergency was over, but that didn’t happen and to this day 40 years on it still remains empty. A looted car showroom still stocks a 1974 model, just surreal. You cannot go into the city as its heavily guarded but you can peer through the fencing along its perimeter. A good viewpoint is to stand on the beach next to the Palm Beach Resort Hotel, and if the tide is out there is a spit of sand on which you can stand to view this remarkable sight.