The Old Town of Famagusta is filled with enough history to be called a big outdoor museum. Here you walk among ruins in a romantic ambience, filled with palm trees and bougainvillea flowers. Several countries have ruled the city through the centuries, which have left its imprints in buildings and architecture.
The Old Town is surrounded by a stone wall built by the Lusignans in the 1300’s. What makes the wall so special is that it is so well preserved and intact. If one wants to take a stroll down history lane the city wall is a good place to start. At the south west gate you can park your car and walk up the cobblestone coated incline up to the top of the wall. From here you have a magnificent view over the Old Town with the serene Mediterranean Sea in the background.
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.
Another place one should see is the field at the wall’s north west bastion. The pointed defences, which protrudes from the castle bank, is designed by a Venetian architect and build in the mid 1500’s. The Church of the Carmelite’s and the Armenian Church are standing in the middle of the field, old and beaten by time, but still beautiful to look at. If you look closely you will discover details in the architecture, in the walls and the ceiling, typical for its time.
Carmelite Church and the Armenian Church.
If you continue walking down towards the water you will soon reach the Othello Castle. The Castle is named after William Shakespeare’s tragedy that is thought to be set in Famagusta. Inside the walls of the Othello Castle the mystery is echoing through arched gates and impressive halls. The castle yard is the place where several plays are set up and performed during the summer months.
The historical sites are crammed around the castle. Across the street lies the ruins of St George’s, and the Church of the Latins casts long shadows over the lawn. And only a stone throw away you will find the magnificent Sea Gate. Next to the gate is a stone statue of a lion. According to the legend, the lion’s mouth will open one night, and the first person who lays his or her hand in the mouth will be rewarded with an enormous fortune.
If you need to take a break from the history walk, the local patisserie Petek Patisserie is across the road. It is well-known for its sweet and sticky goodies and is a tourist attraction in itself. Here you can huddle up next to the stone fireplace and admire the collection of colourful Arabic plates and costumes that adorn the walls, while trying various pistachios filled and honey dripping pastries. Round off with a cup of Turkish coffee.
You don’t have to walk far from Petek Patisserie before you reach the Old Town’s vibrant square. Here you can find the proud Lala Mustafa Pasha mosque, the biggest of all medieval buildings in Famagusta and one of the most magnificent gothic architectures around the Mediterranean. Right next to it lies the Venetian Palace and the St. George of the Greeks church.
The Famagusta outdoor museum never seems to end. There are historical places everywhere, everything from impressive and very well preserved churches, to dubious piles of stone marked by a sign. How long you want to walk and look around depends more on your level of interest and energy than the number of sights.
In many places in the Old Town there are maps with historical sights marked.