The best guide to the North.’ The Daily Telegraph
From the Back Cover
Inside you will find information on: eating and drinking; fully updated details of hotels, pensions and campsites; monasteries and churches, castles and classical ruins; natural history and conservation; watersports, walks and other activities; getting by in Turkish.
About the Author
Diana Darke has travelled extensively throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and has worked for many years in Turkey, both sides of Cyprus, and the Middle East. She is the author of Bradt’s Syria, Oman and Eastern Turkey.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Medieval Girne was a walled town, and today the narrow wiggling streets and alleys behind the harbour still retain a slightly medieval feel, the houses huddled on top of each other. The variety fascinates: one moment you walk past a workshop where wood is crafted into furniture, the next you catch a glimpse into a private arcaded courtyard with tumbling jasmine and bougainvillea. The town walls themselves have been gradually dismantled and incorporated into other buildings, but you will still come across some of the towers, tucked a little incongruously beside a butcher’s shop or a supermarket.’
On Sourp Magar Monastery:
The atmosphere and superb location, nestling into the crook of the wooded mountains with distant views of the sea, make this monastery an unforgettable spot. Yet as you step down into the terraced courtyard, the desolation that greets you is enough to make you weep. Here in the beauty and silence of the mountains lies this gutted carcass, traces of its former splendour apparent at every turn in the smashed tiles, the neglected citrus trees and the broken stairways.
Although the last monks left early in the 20th century, a resident guardian ensured, until 1974, that the place was maintained, and it was even possible for visitors and mountain wayfarers to spend the night in the monks’ old rooms. The Armenian community in Nicosia used it as a summer resort, and orphans of the 189596 massacres in Turkey were sent here to be educated by the monks. On Sourp Magar’s feast day, the first Sunday in May, the place was the scene of much festivity. The monastery used to own 10,000 donums (a donum is about a third of an acre) of land covered in carob, olive and pine trees, and crops and vegetables were grown on the terracing below, with the help of an elaborately constructed irrigation system. Now abandoned and unguarded, the monastery has been the victim of wanton vandalism. The monastery church has had its altar hacked to pieces and the Armenian tile work, the only decorative ornamentation left here, has been prised off the floor and smashed.’