The town of Famagusta was originally a small commercial port and fishing village. The name of the city in Turkish is Gazimagusa, and in Greek, Ammokhostos. The name Famagusta is a Frankish corruption of the Greek name. It lies on the eastern coast in a bay between capes Greco and Eloea, and possesses the deepest harbour in Cyprus.
Famagusta is thought to have been established by King Ptolemy Philadelphus II (285247 BC) around the lagoon near the coast of what are now the Salamis ruins.The modern town is built on the remains of the ancient city of Arsenoe, named after the wife of king, which was built to replace Salamis after its sacking by Arab raiders in 648 AD.
The name of the new city, Ammakhostos, means ‘hidden in the sand’, and residents hoped not to attract the raiders.The city developed after its conguest by the Crusaders in 1291.From this date onwards, Famagusta soon became a stopping off point for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and it grew in both political strength and material wealth.
St. Barnabas Monastery :
St. Barnabas of Cyprus, was killed by his compatriots and his corpse was hidden in an underground cave to the west of Salamis. The corpse remained hidden for many years, its whereabouts unknown.432 years later, Bishop Anthemios saw the grave in dream and has the place excavated.Informed about this, the Emperor of Byzantium made a donation for a monastery to be build on the location of the grave, and bestowed autonomy on the Church of Cyprus.The monastery,built in 477 AD, houses an icon museum today.
Salamis Ruins :
According to Greek mythology, the city of Salamis was founded by Teucer on his return from the Trojan wars.Another story has it that it began in the late 11thC BC after the fall of the nearby city of Alasia.The spectacular present day ruins are only 8 kilometres north of Famagusta. The ancient city of Salamis is said to have been build by the tribes who moved to Cyprus from Anatolia and Greece towards the end of the Bronze Age.Salamis,whic was the capital of Cyprus in the centuries to come,was severely damaged during the earthguakes of 76 and 77 AD. Constantine rebuilt the city in the 5th C AD and the city regained the title of the capital city once again.However, after Arab raids and more earthguakes in the 8th C, the city was completely deserted.
Othello’s Tower :
Othello's tower was originally built as a moated citadel in order to protect Famagusta's harbour, and was originally the main entrance to the town. When the Venetian arrived, they greatly strengthened the town's defences, incorporating the citadel into the main town walls. The tower was remodelled by the Venetian Captain Nicolo Foscareno in 1492. Above the main entrance, there is a sculpture of the winged lion of St Mark, the patron saint of Venice, along with an inscription crediting Nicoli Foscareno with the renovation.
Cathedral of St. Nicholas :
The Cathedral of St. Nicholas,built by the Lusignans between 1298 and 1312, is a stunning example of Gothic Cathedral in Cyprus. Right at the heart of the old walled city of Famagusta, North Cyprus, lies the Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque, the former St Nicolas Cathedral. From the 14th century, this imposing building has dominated the square at the heart of the old walled city of Famagusta, Its twin towers can be seen from all over the city, one tower topped with a minaret on one side. Both spires suffered during the Turkish bombardment in the siege of 1571, and from subsequent earthquakes, but they still stand proud on the city skyline today.
Sea Gate & Land Gate ( Akkule ) :
The Land Gate is one of the two original entries to the walled city of Famagusta, the other one being the Sea Gate, and is the most spectacular. It is the second oldest part of the walls, after the Othello's Tower. It is also the most interesting part to those interested in military fortifications.Over the centuries it has been called the Ravelin, the Rivettina Bastion and the Akkule, depending on who ruled Famagusta at the time.When the Venetians took over Famagusta in 1489, they immediately started to strengthen the walls. The Sea Gate, or Porta del Mare, was one of the earliest to be completed, in 1496. It was built by Niccolo Prioli in order to protect the entrance to the walled city from the Port of Famagusta. It was built at an angle, so that it was the first thing that mariners would see as they approached the city