Independence to the Present Day
25 October, 2009
25 October, 2009
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The Karpaz Peninsula

The Karpaz Peninsula | North Cyprus

There are still areas of Cyprus that have remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. Only the passage of time has left tell-tale marks upon the terrain and the shoreline. The wind has bent trees to its will and the salt spray has eroded cliff faces into fantastic shapes. Dotted across the landscape are the signs that mankind has already been here and the land is not as virginal as it first appears.

For thousands of years this island has been inhabited, and hidden amongst the densely packed undergrowth that covers the hillsides, and least accessible areas, the remains of primitive colonisations can be discovered. The foundations of ancient cities are marked on some maps and exploring these sites will reveal an abundance of broken pot-shards, some with intricate polychrome designs still clearly discernible. It is not unusual to find complete jug handles, and to take a trip back in time by imagining the hands of so long ago filling the vessel with wine, water or oil and taking it to the table. How many times was it used until those clumsy hands dropped it to shatter on the floor creating a jigsaw of pieces, one of which you hold today?

Take a journey into the Karpaz Peninsula, it is worth at least a day of your holiday, to discover for yourself one of those areas that still has the essence of ancient Cyprus. Where you will see the donkey used as the principal beast of burden. Not without good reason is the donkey called “the Cyprus tractor”. Laden with bundles of sticks for fire lighting; sacks of carob pods; carrying a shepherd as he escorts his flock from one grazing area to another, these are scenes that remain immutable, and although change is bound to come it must be hoped that for the Karpaz, it is a long way in the future.

Beaches of golden sand can be found on the north and south coasts. Some are easy to find as they have a hotel nearby but others have to be searched for. There are few signposts to the sea and part of the adventure is seeking out the smaller, deserted bays where the crystal water gently laps the shore, and the only company you will find will be a sea bird wading in the shallows.

There are several hotels offering good, comfortable accommodation, traditional village dwellings are offered close to the centre of Dipkarpaz where there is a Government development called The Arch Houses. What were once tumble-down ruins, have been carefully restored and provide board and lodging that is typically Cypriot. For the truly adventurous, there is a selection of  more basic beach-side chalets, that offer little more than a bedroom with no en-suite facilities. Nearly all levels of accommodation provide a Cypriot breakfast and a good start to the day ahead.

Lavinia Neville Smith
Lavinia Neville Smith
Lavinia Neville Smith first came to North Cyprus in 1995, and fell in love with the country and the Turkish Cypriot people. A self confessed dilettante, with a varied working career, it was not until she returned in 1997 and went into tourism that she was able to put to good use her knowledge of history, ancient and modern, acquired long ago at school. She is a co-author of the Landmark Visitors Guide to North Cyprus, and continues to promote this beautiful country as far afield as possible.