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[:RU]Famagusta: the story of how the most beautiful city of Cyprus did not become its tourist Eldorado[:]

[:RU]In the history of almost all of the ancient city there are periods of prosperity and decline. They may succeed each other indefinitely. Usually we can see evidence of these twists and turns in the museums or the few remaining ruins of the past. Much less is brought to capture the transition from wealth and recognition to the desolation and misery right in the moment.

An excellent example of this metamorphosis can serve the Cypriot city of Famagusta with more than two thousand years of history, who appeared at this time right on the border between the Greek and Turkish parts of Cyprus. He still impresses with its majestic walls, crumbling medieval churches, beautiful beaches and its ambiguous history, but tourists are now come here more often only as an attraction to take a look from a distance at the abandoned neighborhoods expelled from the Greeks, but to walk several hours in his medieval streets.

Times when Famagusta was a real tourist mecca of the Mediterranean region and most attractive resort of Cyprus ended 40 years ago with the arrival here of the Turkish army. The military and to this day remain a major power in the city, giving no chance to revive its former glory, the main tourist center of the whole island.

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How do these guys in the form of the few visitors are guests in modern Famagusta, we were convinced in their own skin, not just here having lost his camera and all the footage. But I tell everything in order.


After visiting the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, I established in his desire to leave to devote the rest of his study of the northern Turkish part. During the three days early mornings we went towards Northern Cyprus and spent the whole day here and then come back for the night back to the Greek part. Place our refuge in the town of Protaras is great for these attacks, because the border with the Turks here in all the 15 kilometers.


First we have started his trip with a visit to Famagusta. I have heard and read a lot about this city, but would like to see firsthand its uniqueness among all Cypriot cities. As time passes, I can say that Famagusta or how else it is called Gazimagusa, Ammochostos or Magus for me was the most beautiful city in Cyprus. Some features only isolated him even more on the background of other, equally famous cities of the Mediterranean island.


Superbly preserved fortifications amaze even at the entrance to the old city center.


The trip to the city for a long ancient bridge through the narrow gate, whose age is more than five centuries, could be called fascinating pastime. Somehow it reminds me of the action time travel.


Immediately outside the gates we decide to park the car and walk up to the next bastion. On the fortress walls in the morning sun old city of Famagusta appeared before us in all its beauty.


Dilapidated domed churches, narrow streets and the blue sea — the scenery is not replaced here almost five centuries. Needless to say, a walk along the fortress walls is the best opens the pages of the history of this troubled city.


Deep Bay local people used several thousand years ago. Somewhere here the Egyptian Ptolemaic kings who are the heirs of Alexander the Great, built their ancient city of Arsinoe. From him to the present time practically nothing left. Then, after a long oblivion local port began to actively use the first warriors of the Crusades.


New Famagusta finest hour struck, when there began to settle expelled from the Holy Land where wealthy knights. All they hoped soon to return their possessions and Famagusta have chosen only as a temporary shelter. History decided otherwise …

A little later, the city falls into the first possession of the Genoese and then the Venetian merchants. It was last built here, as well as in Nicosia, a powerful fortress. Against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, it is not saved, but unlike the capital of Cyprus Famagusta withstood the hardest nine-month siege, a lot of assaults and attacks arteleriyskih.


History tells us that the defenders were forced to surrender the fort is only a consequence of hunger and in return for security guarantees to go beyond fighting. Unaccustomed to defeat the Turks breached the contract and once the gate was opened, treacherously executed most of the defenders, the rest turned into slaves. Destroyed Dome of the former local Svyatotogo Nicholas Cathedral are a vivid testimony of that time.


The Turks added two to one of the towers of the minaret, and cleaned and painted over all the reminders of Christianity, turning this majestic church into a mosque, Lala Mustafa Pasha.


High Gothic arches and the long narrow windows strangely blended here with a typically Muslim parts of the interior.


A bit ridiculous looking a mihrab — indicating the direction of Mecca niche in the wall, is necessarily present in all mosques.

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In general, to attack the Turks in Famagusta was a lot of churches. To this day they survived only a few.


Next to the former Cathedral of St. Nicholas there is the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. She, too, is now converted into a mosque. A little distance among the construction debris can be seen the ruins of the church of St. George.


In Famagusta can be found in the streets still many ruins. The destruction of ancient buildings are to blame not only the Turks but also the frequent earthquakes.


Only the fortress walls at all or anything. Their length in the city is now more than three kilometers, and in the complex of the Venetian citadel includes many towers and bastions. Something which has even traditional for that era sculptures of lions.


During the reign of the Ottomans Famagusta experienced its next sunset. By the beginning of the colonization of Cyprus of the British Empire at the beginning of the last century there lived only four thousand people. The British spotted in the town of resort potential and started to gradually build up its hotels, restaurants and luxury villas.


But the real tourism boom began in the city with the arrival of the independence of Cyprus in the early 60s of the last century. Then Famagusta has experienced rapid growth.


Center tourist industry came in the Greek quarter of Varosha. Before the war with Turkey in 1974, is operated 109 hotels, shops, bars and dance floors. All of this has stopped suddenly.


After a short bombardment and capture of the city by the Turkish military during its invasion of Cyprus by local Greeks it was given only a few hours for eviction from the city. Many left with putymi hands, firmly believing that the court will return in a couple of weeks. That did not happen.


I hit area of ​​Varosha in the demilitarized zone, but the Turkish military have refused to leave him. They control Varosha, and 40 years later.


Despite the watchtowers, powerful searchlights and constant raids Greek quarter has long been completely looted.


I do not know why, but the Turks dutifully comply with the resolutions of the UN and not inhabit this once affluent area of ​​the city. At the same time, they flatly refuse to return Varosha to the Greeks. A real ghost town now serves as a kind of strange attraction Fasagusty. Tourists come here for a photo shoot, though photographs of Varosha like and is strictly prohibited.


Nearby it was built now popular hotel for unusual exotic. Great beach, wonderful climate and the grim post-apocalyptic picture of the windows of the hotel become the hallmark of this place.


We also stopped here. Despite many signs prohibiting photography, I decided to shoot the object. After all, the Internet is literally flooded frames here.


Leisurely strolling along the beach, we came closer to his fenced part of the tower with the checkpoint.


I saw sitting there on the Turkish military folding chair with tablet computer in her hands. Judging by his face he was indifferent do not care what we were doing. But soon something happened that radically changed his attitude to the curious traveler with camera in hand.

When my wife came up to the fence itself, I managed to make only one picture, which you can see below.


Literally tighter second round the bend appeared a military jeep. Apparently they noticed a camera in my hands, because after a short conversation with the guard, he became desperately yelling in broken English in our direction, «Stop! Ay yu sey stop photos! Lim w flippers half Hee! «. At the same time, he began to run around frantically in its blog post. I did not go into a long discussion, and I realized that we must get out of here away. We are, slowly, turned around and went in the direction of the hotel’s heart-rending cries of grief-guard, and who decided not to leave his post with the aim to punish the uninvited guests.


Thus ended our walk through this unusual town, still reeling after another brief war and living in hope for a better future. We have several times passed him for the next few days and see how much rebuilt his Turkish part. Now there is also a large variety of local universities and other institutions. Only resort gloss is not seen.


Famagusta lives with one foot in the past, the bright, the other foot in the uncertain future. Turks realize that Varosha once have to return it to the true owners, but retracted this moment to last, obviously not wanting to have at hand a rival and nemesis.


The next chapter in the history of this city has not turned over, frozen in stillness somewhere in the middle. But for travelers like me is a happy state of affairs. For now Famagusta not like the resort center of Paphos and a very unusual city with a taste of real adventure …


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