Inspection Trip Information
The city-state of Venice became incredibly wealthy through trade and Famagusta was the gate to the East. The town’s natural harbour is the deepest in Cyprus. At its hight the city was an international center of trade. Such was the city’s fame that the walls and towers were the setting for William Shakespeare’s Othello.
Wikipedia adds: “In 1372 the port was seized by Genoa and in 1489 by Venice. This commercial activity turned Famagusta into a place where merchants and ship owners led lives of luxury. The belief that people's wealth could be measured by the churches they built inspired these merchants to have churches built in varying styles. These churches, which still exist, were the reason Famagusta came to be known as "the district of churches". The development of the town focused on the social lives of the wealthy people and was centred upon the Lusignan palace, the cathedral, the Square and the harbour.”
It is claimed that there was a different church for each day of the year (365) at one point. Famagusta was the seat of a Latin diocese from the twelfth century and had bishops in residence until the sixteenth century.
Eventually Cyprus fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1570 and Latins were expelled. The city entered a four-hundred year period of decay. Beginning in 1573, Greek Cypriots were banished and settled in the nearby area known as Varosha. The loss of Latin & Greek merchants started the decline of the once proud city.
Famagusta lies at the very South-East corner of North Cyprus and it’s southern most suburb, Varosha is a closed town. Nobody at all lives there and the place seems to be a bargaining chip for Turkey.
This is quickly changing, Varosha may be opened for settlement again soon. There are a number of remaining obstacles but the government of North Cyprus would like to see the place repaired and re-opened. The UN, The Republic of Cyprus, and Turkey are all involved in the process so it may not come to fruition.
IF things do go to according to plan, these golden beaches and high-rise hotels may again become tourists hot spots. The original owners will want their prime properties back or to be compensated. Time will revival all.