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Cyprus's Great Divide

sunny 24 °C

Day after day the aquamarine seas meld seamlessly into the clear blue sky and we bask in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. But Cyprus is an enigma in so many ways. It is an historic land that has been submerged under a thick veneer of concrete. It is a land of all-inclusive resorts, British pubs, fish and chips and 'Kiss Me Quick' hats. So, for us and our friend Christine, it is far from paradise island – although there are some pretty sights...
Cyprus is at a maritime crossroads; surrounded by countries who cling to their guns and religion with as much fervour as middle Americans. Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Israel and Egypt are all within missile range - and they all have missiles to spare – but Cyprus is not new to military conflict and the struggle continues. For instance; this is the south end of the main street in Nicosia, the capital...
And this is the north end...
Spot the difference? One end is in the Greek area of Cyprus while the other is in the Turkish area. One end has Christian churchgoers ringing the bells while the other end has Muslim muezzins blaring out their calls to prayer from the many minarets...
The language, the money, the music and the food, are all miles apart, yet we only had to show our passports and walk a few yards across a heavily defended no-mans land to reach the other side. This is a Turkish bakery in the north...
The conflict which has divided the Cypriot people and their island rumbled for decades before it came to a head in 1974 when the Turkish Army invaded from the north and sent 200,000 people fleeing from their homes. Since that time the feuding islanders have been kept apart by a UN patrolled fence. We cannot show you the fence without risk of being jailed, but it is an ugly reminder of what can happen when xenophobes take control.

Nicosia may once have been a beautiful capital, but the fence and other barriers across the old walled city has ripped its heart in two. Little ancient architecture remains beyond the once magnificent Venetian walls, but they are now car parks, garbage tips. and a handy place to store concrete paving blocks...
We have now moved to the western end of Cyprus, to Paphos, in order to explore the Troodos mountains and visit the tomb of Archbishop Makarios - more about him later. In the meantime, here's a peek at his enormous palace in Nicosia...

Posted by Hawkson 12:01 Archived in Cyprus

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Fascinating and actively divisive. I hope that there are those that extend beyond the walls between the two cultures. A good reminder of a road not to go down if possible. I don't know how you survive decades of invasion. Who do you become?

by Sue Fitzwilson

Sad to be surrounded by the ravages of religion but keep looking up at those marvellous azure skies and soak up all that warmth. Down vest time on Gabriola this morning.

by R and B

Reading this reminds me how fortunate I am to have arrived in Canada at a time when Canadians felt quite comfortable telling me why they didn't like the English or how to be Canadian. Just advice and opinions. No guns. No slurs. I learned from other people's views and hope to defend civil society - however we manage to maintain it.

by Janet Vickers

Very interesting. Unfortunately this type of division is far too common all over the world.

by kEITH Myers

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