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North Cyprus History

Güzelyurt ( Morphou ) :

Situated in the north-west of Cyprus, Morphou is a town probably founded by Spartans. In the Middle Ages, the city was referred to as Morphou but also Theomorphou.The Morphou area grew more than half of Cyprus citrus fruits,most of them are exported.Surrounded by citrus gardens, Morphou also supplies watermelon, melon and vegetable varieties blossoming from its fertile bosom.Morphou contains one of the many churches in the country dedicated to St.Mamas,popularly believed to have lived as a hermitin a cave near Morphou.Dating back to Bayzantine  times,the church earns the town a reputation and importance among Orthodox Christians.

St. Mamas Church:

The church in the monastery was originally a Byzantine building, built on the site of an Aphrodite temple. It has been reconstructed at various times over the centuries, with most of the buildings dating to the 18th century when the large central dome was added. However, the side portals and columns of the nave survive from an earlier Gothic church built by the Lusignans. It is said that Mamas was a Christian saint  from Anatolia who was killed on religious grounds. His family, aided by Jesus Christ, placed Mamas in a coffin and buried him at sea. The coffin, swept away by the tide, made its way to the Gulf of Morphou (now Guzelyurt), where it was found by a humble man who lived in the area. The man returned to his house and gathered two oxen and called for his four sons to accompany him to the place where the coffin had landed. Tying a rope to it, they tried to pull the coffin away. However, the man, realising the coffin was heavier than he had initially thought, called for help. The coffin was eventually taken with great difficulty and effort, and when the coffin could be carried no further, a church was built round it.

Ancient City of Soli :

Soli is an ancient settlement, one of the ten ancient kingdoms of Cyprus, and is located in the north-western part of the island, just outside the village of Gemikonagi, on the coast near Lefke. Its history can be dated back to the 11th century BC. It was probably established here because of a good water supply, fertile soil, an abundance of copper deposits, and a protected harbour.The city we can see today, was built around the 6th century BC, and is thought to have been named after the Greek philosopher, Solon. Soli was one of the most important capitals of Cyprus because of its port facilities and fertile soil. In 498BC, the people of Soli joined the other kingdoms in the Ionian Revolution against the Persians, but the Persians took the city. The city was liberated in 449BC, and during the Roman period, Soli became a prosperous city, expanding towards the sea. Over time, however, the city lost its importance. The copper mines were closed in the 4th century, and the harbour gradually silted up. The city was finally destroyed during the Arab raids of the 7th century.

Vouni Palace :

Around 600BC, the city-states of Cyprus were split between those that leant towards the east and the Phoenicians, and those that were more Greek supporting. During the great wars between the Greeks and the Persians, the city-states of Cyprus were politically divided. The Phoenicians supported the Persians, and this resulted in battles between the island's kingdoms.Battles on land and sea were waged, and in 500BC a pro-Persian city, Marion, not only besieged Soli, but kept an eye on it by establishing a settlement on a nearby hill. This settlement was Vouni.

Museum of Archaeology & Natural Histort: The museum of nature and archaeology is situated next to St Mamas monastery. The building was originally the palace of the Bishop of Morphou, and up to 1974 housed town offices. It was opened as a museum in 1979 after restoration.The ground floor displays a collection of stuffed animals native to Cyprus. The upper floors of the museum houses the archaeology section with displays from the Neolithic and bronze ages. In the second and third rooms there is a display of finds from the Tumba Tou Skuru settlement. 


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