Riviera Beach Bungalows, Studios & Superior Hotel Rooms, Kyrenia, North Cyprus

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ABOUT NORTH CYPRUS

North Cyprus is the Med’s best kept secret: Loved for its slow pace of life, value for money and delightful village-feel, it combines beautiful bays and enchanting sights with a sunny climate all year round, making it an ideal get-away for every season.

Located at the crossroads of three continents and just 40 miles from Turkey, North Cyprus is bursting with intriguing antiquity and a rich cultural history. The North Cyprus coastline is astonishingly beautiful with its ancient harbours where you can dine al-fresco and beaches that stretch for miles, whilst the depths of the crystal-clear azure seas offers many of the region’s best dive sites. A labyrinth of craft shops, ancient sites and family-owned restaurants await exploration in North Cyprus’ vibrant towns, whilst idyllic scenery and ancient rustic villages gently dot the countryside.

ACCOMMODATION: A wide range of accommodation is offered, ranging from 5 star Hotels, Hotel-Bungalows, Hotel-Apartments to Camping and Self Catering Studios and Villas.

COASTLINE: The beaches of Northern Cyprus are among the cleanest and safest in the Mediterranean. The average water temperature is 24 C0 between May and October. The Summer Season sees the Hotel Beaches offering an excellent service to their customers in terms of eating and drinking facilities, not failing to mention the provision of beach umbrellas and beach loungers. Some of these beaches will also offer activities such as water skiing, banana rides, jet-ski, wind surfing and scuba diving.

TRAFFIC: Please drive on the left. Traffic and road signs are international. Maximum speed is 100 km/hr. Vehicles entering Northern Cyprus must be insured upon arrival.

CAR RENTALS: This service is available in all main towns and large hotels. A British or International Driving License is required. Rental cars have red number plates.

TELEPHONE: The code for England is 00 44 and the code for Germany is 00 49 followed by the local number but omitting the first zero (0). From England and other European Countries the code is 00 90 392 followed by the local Cypriot number. Public Telephone booths are available and telephone cards can be purchased from the Telecommunications office.

POST: The outgoing postal system is reliable. Incoming mail must have “Mersin 10, Turkey” and not “Northern Cyprus” at the end of the address. The history of the postal service in Northern Cyprus will definitely be of interest to all philatelists.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: A good, inexpensive network of busses and mini-busses operates between all the main towns in addition there are Dolmuş (Shared Taxi’s) operating on the same routes. Taxis are widely available and carry taximeter.

TOURIST INFORMATION: Tourist Information Offices are available in all the major towns. Tour Guides, Hotel Receptionists, Taxi drivers and the locals are also a good source of information.

RESTAURANTS: A large selection of restaurants exists, ranging from humble Çorbaci (soup house), where truly ethnic cuisine is served, to fashionable French, Chinese, Indian Cuisine Restaurants. Prices vary accordingly there are also a number of excellent Cypriot Cuisine restaurants which offer very good value for money.

BARS: A wide range to suit all tastes, serving local beers, raki and brandy and of course imported alcohol. A must is the National cocktail, a Brandy Sour.

Geography

Located at the cross-roads of three continents, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, situated 40 miles south of Turkey at its nearest coastal point. It is smaller than Sicily and Sardinia and larger than Corsica and Crete. North Cyprus comprises a total area of 1357 square miles, with over half of the Island’s 240 miles of coastline.

Cyprus has been divided into two autonomous states since 1974. This came about by virtue of the linguistic and cultural differences, and as a result of communal friction which lasted for 11 years (see history). Greek Cypriots are situated in the southern and the Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus. A boundary known as the "Green Line" runs through Lefkosa (Nicosia), the capital of both South and North Cyprus, separating the two states. At present there are five border crossings, offering 24 hour unrestricted access for EU citizens to pass across.

The Five Regions

North Cyprus has five distinct regions offering unique experiences for everyone:

Güzelyurt and its citrus groves in the West;

The Venetian harbour town of Girne (Kyrenia) is backed by the dramatic wooded slopes of the Besparmak, or Five Finger, Mountains in the North;

The spectacular finger shaped Karpaz Panhandle in the East, in the region of Iskele;

The “outdoor museum” of Gazimagusa (Famagusta) on the eastern coastline and its surrounding sandy bays;

Lefkosa (Nicosia), is a fascinating city to explore and the only remaining divided city in the world - with the border crossing open for all EU citizens without restriction.

Geographical Highlights

The geography of North Cyprus is characterized by a unique blend of beaches, plains and mountains. The long northern coastline is backed by The Kyrenia or Besparmak (Five Finger) mountain range, forming a startling backdrop with its wooded slopes and magnificent jagged limestone peaks, the highest of which is Mount Selvili at 3357 ft. The lower hills and lowlands are alive with lush greenery, rare species of birds and butterflies, and a natural diversity of flowers that is unmatched in the Mediterranean, with an estimated 19 endemic plant species. Sandy beaches and rocky coves await discovery along the shore.

To the east of the island, the Five Finger mountain range loses height as it extends along the narrow peninsula known as Karpaz or “Panhandle”, a spectacular finger-shaped region of rolling hills and unspoilt sandy bays which points to Syria. To the south of the Five Finger range lie the plains of Mesaoria and the capital city Lefkosa. Other major centres are Güzelyurt in the west, the resort town of Girne on the northern coast, and the second resort town of Gazimagusa in the east.

Population

The population of North Cyprus is approximately 264,000 (2006 census) and 55% of the population live in urban areas. The urban population is distributed as follows: (Rounded to the nearest 1000; Census 2006)

Lefkosa (Nicosia): 73,000
Gazimagusa (Famagusta): 46,000
Girne (Kyrenia): 57,000
Guzelyurt: 20,000
Iskele: 8,000

Demographics

The urban population is employed mainly in the service industry and light industries such as beverages, clothing and construction. The rural population lives in villages. There are some 195 villages in North Cyprus. People in rural areas are mainly engaged in agriculture and produce a variety of crops such as wheat, barley, olives, carobs, melon, grapes, figs, and potatoes which are grown commercially on a moderate scale. Citrus is the main export, but exports from North Cyprus in general have been greatly restricted due to the imposed trade embargo.

Although the tourism, banking and education sectors have grown in recent years, North Cyprus’ slower commercial and industrial growth has become a distinct advantage, as it is today still relatively undiscovered and untouched by mass-tourism, with minimal pollution and plenty of peace and quiet for visitors. Education has recently developed to become one of the major sources of revenue, with its five private universities offering a good standard of international education to overseas students, including many from Turkey, Africa and the Middle East.

Climate

North Cyprus enjoys a very pleasant climate, with warm, dry summers and mild winters, and an average of 300 days of sunshine. In August, the hottest month, mean temperatures range from 21°C to 36°C and in the coldest months of January and February, the average temperature is around 10°C, with a winter average of 6 hours daily sunshine and only moderate rain, making it an ideal year-round destination.

Mean Monthly Temperature (C0)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

C0

10.9

11.0

12.9

16.5

20.8

25.1

27.8

27.7

25.0

21.2

16.2

12.3

 Mean Monthly Maximum Temperature (C0)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

C0

15.2

15.6

17.8

22.2

26.8

31.1

33.9

33.8

31.2

27.0

21.1

16.8

Mean Monthly Minimum Temperature (C0)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

C0

6.4

6.3

7.4

10.4

14.3

18.6

21.4

21.4

19.0

15.6

11.2

7.9

Mean Monthly Sunshine Duration (Hour/Day)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Hour/Day

5.5

6.2

7.1

8.6

10.0

11.8

12.2

11.4

10.0

8.2

6.6

4.9

 Mean Monthly Sea Temperature (C0)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

C0

15.9

15.4

16.2

17.6

20.4

24.3

27.0

27.9

26.8

24.2

20.8

17.7

 Mean Monthly Precipitation (mm)

Months

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

mm

64.8

60.4

46.1

21.2

15.3

6.6

1.8

1.1

3.4

22.9

48.7

77.6

Wildlife

North Cyprus is still relatively undiscovered so wildlife flourishes, with some 250 species of birds touching down on the island every year on the passage from East to West. There is also an abundance of lizards, wild donkeys and butterflies, including 19 endemic species, that is, those which are unique to the region, such as the strangely-shaped festoon and Cleopatra butterflies adorned with the colours of sunshine. They are all part of a rich natural heritage on an island of contrasts that spans from the top of Mount Selvili’s 3000 feet to the gentle slopes of the coastal waters, where the famous loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

The warm climate in North Cyprus also means visitors can enjoy beautiful flowers all year-round, making it a veritable botanic haven. In the autumn and winter golden-yellow oleanders swathe the hills, whilst multi-coloured anemones and crocuses appear before Christmas. But it is in late winter and spring that the island blooms into a rhapsody of colour with the orchid family and cherry-red poppies taking centre stage.

History

Wherever you travel in North Cyprus, the history comes alive...

For nine thousand years, Cyprus has been a melting pot of great civilizations; from the Neolithic settlements on the northern coast to the Egyptian, Persian, Roman, Venetian, Ottoman and British Empires. Its strategic location at the cross-roads of East and West has bestowed on the island with a rich and colourful history spanning centuries.

During the course of its vibrant past, the island has been visited by the Romans, Alexander the Great and Richard the Lion Heart, to name a few, each leaving its own unique footprint.

First Settlers

For a good sense of how it all began, the island’s museums are well worth a visit for their fascinating array of artefacts discovered in cave dwellings dating from 7000BC, when the first inhabitants of Cyprus are said to have settled.

From 3000-700 BC, Cyprus began to emerge as a trading centre, with copper mines drawing merchants from all across the Mediterranean. Attracted to the growing opportunities, settlers arrived from Anatolia and Phoenicians from Syria, bringing new Levantine architecture, ceramics and metal working to the island.

Melting Pot of Civilisations

The Persians first adopted Cyprus as a base for their wars with Greece in the 6th Century BC, lasting until 333 BC when Alexander the Great brought the Persian Empire to a sudden end. The Ptolemies of Egypt ruled for the next 250 years - a glorious period punctuated by Rome's invasion of the island in 48 BC. But, Roman rule only lasted a few years, as Julius Caesar bestowed the island to his lover, Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies as a gift of love. Only following her death was Emperor Augustus able to return Cyprus to the fold of the Roman Empire.

Between the 1st and 10th Centuries, multiple communities emerged on the island, with Muslim and Byzantine settlers coexisting in relative harmony - that is, until 965 AD, when the Byzantines took full control of the island after defeating the Muslim Caliphate’s Egyptian fleet.

Byzantine rule lasted until the 12th Century, when King Richard the Lion-Heart handed the island to Guy de Lusignan, a member of French Medieval Royalty, to finance his expeditions. The Lusignans, inhabited the island for 300 years, from the 12th Century until 1489, when the Venetians captured the island and bestowed upon it the impressive Girne Castle, as well as the celebrated architecture of Gazimagusa (Famagusta) and Lefkosa (Nicosia), which are all well worth a visit.

Modern Cyprus

The Ottoman period in Cyprus began in 1571 and lasted for more than three centuries, during which time the two Cypriot communities, Turkish and Greek, began to emerge. It was during the later years of Ottoman rule, in an agreement dating back to 1869, that the British were granted the right to govern Cyprus under the Sultan -lasting until the end of the First World War. Then, in the Treaty of London and Zurich were signed to grant independence to Cyprus as a partnership state between the Turkish and Greek Communities of the island. The guarantors of the new state were Britain, Greece, and Turkey. However, in 1963 relations between the two communities separated by language, culture and religion, deteriorated and civil war broke out.The United Nations sent in troops in an attempt to restore peace, creating the Green Line, which effectively divided the two communities.

In 1974, Greece attempted a military coup in conjunction with the Greek Cypriot National Guard in a bid to achieve ENOSIS (Idea of union with Greece); in response to this bid - and following a consultation with the British government - Turkey intervened to protect the Turkish Cypriot community, in exercise of its guarantor powers.

Cyprus Today

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) was formally established in 1983 and today the island remains divided. The TRNC is a fully democratic state and peace subsists across both sides of the island. On 23 April 2003, the borders between the North and South were opened and it is now also very easy to get around, making North Cyprus a truly excellent destination for those who dream of a holiday steeped in history.

As you explore the island, you will certainly enjoy the enduring echoes of the island's multicultural heritage; a country upon which countless civilizations have left their colourful and fascinating imprints, waiting for you to explore.

Culture

Language

The official language is Turkish, but English is also widely spoken as a second language.

Religion

The majority of the Turkish Cypriots are Muslim and although very few regularly attend mosque services or wear religious attire, most celebrate religious festivals.

Cuisine

The culture of a place is always reflected in its kitchen, and Northern Cyprus is no exception. Cypriot cooking, like its people, is unique. Eating out is popular amongst locals and the choice of cuisine reflects this, combining many wonderful tastes from the Mediterranean, Turkey and the Middle East. In larger towns, a range of international restaurants also offer dishes from around the world.

A typical Turkish Cypriot restaurant meal consists of meze, kebabs (lamb or chicken) or fish, followed by fruit and coffee. Meze is a selection of hot and cold appetizers - the Turkish Cypriot equivalent of Tapas – such as kofte (meatballs), hummus dips, mint yogurt, hellim (goat’s milk cheese). A Turkish Cypriot speciality is the şeftali kebab (peach kebab), made with minced meat, chopped onion and spices, wrapped in lamb fat and grilled. Other mouth-watering dishes include marinated fish and squid - and for dessert, lokma (small doughnuts in syrup), Ekmek Kadayif with Cream (Turkish Cypriot bread pudding) or baklava, as well as freshly-picked fruit such as sweet melon, oranges and figs. Wash your meal down with a glass of rakı (alcoholic aniseed drink), or there are also many good wines, beers and spirits, including the famous brandy sour drink – a cocktail made with brandy, lemon juice and angostura bitters. If you have room, you may want to finish off with a fix of thick Turkish coffee or tea.

Cypriot home cooking is delicious, but is only found in a handful of restaurants in North Cyprus, so do look out for them. Traditional cuisine makes fine use of the abundant fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices in North Cyprus that can be bought and enjoyed in the many farmer's markets and food festivals, as well as the shops and supermarkets – which means Turkish Cypriot cuisine is also packed with vegetarian dishes such as yalancı dolma (stuffed vine leaves with rice, onions and tomatoes), stuffed peppers and tomatoes, melt in the mouth aubergine meals, sigara börek (fried white-cheese rolled in pastry), bulgur koftesi (cracked wheat balls) and home made baked beans. Fresh herbs such as wild thyme, calamint, fennel, oregano and sage flourish in the mountains, ready for picking in June. 

Family Life

For Turkish Cypriots, family life is of ultimate importance and therefore a great amount of their free time is spent at family gatherings, barbeques and weddings. All towns and even some villages hold festivals many of which are in the early summer (see events).

Handicrafts

Lefkara embroidery is an old Cypriot tradition dating back to the Venetian period, where beautiful and intricate items such as bed covers, table cloths, doilies and head-scarves were weaved using drawn and counted thread embroidery on lace. It is said that on a visit to Cyprus, Leonardo da Vinci was so impressed by the Lefkara adaptation of Venetian embroidery that he took some of the embroidery bearing the “potamos” design back to Italy to drape on the altar in the Milan Cathedral. Today, this design is known as the “Leonardo da Vinci design”.

Carpet weaving is another age-old Cypriot tradition and is mostly found in the Gazimağusa region. Kilims (small floor rugs) with colourful designs and patterns make ideal souvenirs or gifts, whilst wicker basket weaving is another Cypriot art form that is popular with locals and tourists.

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