Ayia Sophia is a cathedral/mosque in Nicosia. She can trace her roots back as far as 1209 and was built during the crusades by French stone masons (Cyprus has been invaded many times over the years and has influences from all over Europe and beyond). Construction lasted 150 years, although the church was consecrated in 1326. Some parts of it were never finished.
In the 1500's, the Ottoman Turks conquered the city, and converted the cathedral into a mosque (this included burning the pews and the pulpit) and whitewashing the walls.
It is not unusual that if you wander past and go inside (taking your shoes off first) that you can have the place to yourself. On one occasion I was inside taking some photographs believeing I had the place to myself when I heard a strange sound coming from a corner. On further investigation I realised that whilst I wasn't the only person in there, I was the only conscious person - I was sharing the place with a rather large old lady who was snoring away soundly in the corner...
the peace monument
Down bz the harbour, as you leave the marina area by walking along the seafront, you will come across an interesting statue of a man (president ataturk I believe) - which is actually not a statue but a peace monument.
The inscription reads: yurtta sulh cihanda sulh
This means: peace at home, peace in the world.
"Familiar but different"
Kyrenia, in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, seems disturbingly familiar.
Kyrenia harbour is a typical example of the Venetian-type harbour which can be found on other Mediterranean islands, notably Crete and Rhodes. Except, that is, for the British postbox, which a coat of yellow paint cannot disguise. There are several of these relics of the British occupation in Kyrenia town.
Kyrenia harbour is guarded by a castle which originated as a Byzantine fort, but was subsequently remodelled by Crusaders and then by Venetians. It is exceptionally well-preserved as the Venetian garrison surrendered to the Ottoman Turks without a shot being fired. The castle also houses a Shipwreck Museum, which displays the remains of a 2,300 year old Greek ship and its cargo, recovered from the sea bed in the 1960s. The sailors apparently lived on almonds: thousands of them were recovered from the wreck.
The harbour area houses a number of restaurants, many of them specialising in fish. Eating out in the harbour area is not for the hard-hearted, or those with a cat allergy. The area is patrolled by feline vermin controllers, who would much prefer to try your fish, and will sit there, gazing soulfully at your sole. They will even take to the water (well, the moored boats) in order to ensure that you are surrounded.
A short distance from Kyrenia is the village of Bellapais. A ruined abbey commands a wonderful view down to Kyrenia. It was in Bellapais that Lawrence Durrell lived for a time, as described in his book Bitter Lemons. In the village is the ‘Tree of Idleness’, so-called because anyone who sits beneath it is struck by indolence. Fortunately, a neighbouring cafe has adopted the name, and since it has its own tree, many passing tourists are saved from a life of indolence by the fact that they are sitting under the wrong tree.