The Two Sides of Cyprus

The politically divided island of Cyprus has seen its share of visitors and invaders. When GoNOMAD editor Max Hartshorne visited the country, he was able to view Greek, Roman and Turkish architecture and artifacts, as well as gain insight into the long-standing feud between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus that divide the island into two countries. His article, Cyprus: More than Divided, delves into this history, into the beauty of the island itself and the attractions Cyprus has to offer.

“Cyprus is a prosperous land where the average income is about $25,000 per year, the highest per capita wage in the region. Cyprus is in the midst of a major building boom.

Everywhere you look there are maisonettes, villas and condos being built or advertised for sale. From the look at the nation in 2006, they are poised for a huge growth in foreign investment and visitors. Great Britain leads the way with over half of the 2 million visitors who come each year. But few Americans come to Cyprus, owing perhaps to fears about its location near Syria, the long flight over and because it is not as affordable as some other hot destinations such as Croatia and Slovenia.

But Cyprus is a unique destination and few other places offer so much scenery, history and fine food in a compact land area.

Nicosia, the capital city, is also known as Lefkosia, its Turkish name. During our visit to Nicosia, we went through the Laiki Yitonia (pedestrian quarter) where there is a platform overlooking the UN Green Line which separates the Turkish from the Greek part of the city.

“The last divided capital city” proclaims a sign at the gate where tourists can peer into the Turkish-controlled side of town. We took an elevator up eleven floors to the observation tower overlooking the north. Through binoculars we saw a former cathedral that was converted into a mosque with twin minarets and Turkish flags flapping in the breeze and Turkish tourists gawking and waving at us from their own observation tower. We waved to the Turks who waved back. It seemed silly to be separated by this decades-old green line.”