Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterrean, after Sicily and Sardinia. Due to its strategic location, it been occupied since Neolithic times (10,000 years ago) by the Mycenaeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Knights Templar (before going to Rhodes and finally Malta), French, Venetians, Turks, and British.  Girne (Kyrenia) is on the beautiful north coast beneath the Kyrenian Mountain range. Some yachts in the Rally will be staying in old Girne harbor under the old Byzantine Castle. Others will stay at the new, modern Delta Marina.

Disagreements between the Greek and Turkish communities hampered the struggle for independence.  Many Greek Cypriots wanted to be part of Greece, while many Turkish Cypriots wanted the island split into two distinct political areas.  When independence was achieved in 1960, the constitution guaranteed representation of both communities, but continuing conflicts made the document unworkable.  In 1963 the Turkish community withdrew from the coalition government, and each community governs itself with its own president, council of ministers, and legislative assembly.  

In 1974, when a coup forced out the president of Cyprus, Turkish forces landed and took control of the northern third of the island for the Turkish minority.  The two zones were supervised by UN peacekeepers, and Nicosia is still a city divided by the "Green Line".  Talks, however, continue between the two communities, and efforts are directed toward establishing some kind of federal republic.  However, the acceptance of southern Greek Cyprus into the European Union has hampered this effort. It is now possible to travel by land between the two countries.

Our visit will feature a reception at the castle to welcome us, usually hosted by the President of Turkish Cyprus.

There will be two tours organised.  One will be a full day tour to Magosa- Famagusta, and will take us through the 16th century Venetian fort through walls into the fascinating architecture and narrow streets of the old town visiting the Othello Tower and the Venetian Palace. We will visit impressive Gothic style St. Nicholas Cathedral built from 1298-1326 and converted to a mosque. We will stop along the way to visit St. Barnabus Monastery, where we will see icons and an archaeological museum with artefacts dating as early as 7000BC. A favorite purchase while in North Cyprus would be copies of some of the ancient pottery seen here. The Roman ruins of the ancient city of Salamis just north of Magosa – Famagusta provide another delightful part of the tour.

The other tour option, takes us to the divided capital city of Lefkoşa - Nicosia, taking in St. Hilarion Castle, a mountain castle with wonderful history stories and a panoramic view looking over Girne and the coast and Bellapais Monastery, a 14th century monastery with spectacular views over land and sea. After lunch, visits to Dervish Pasha’s Mansion, the Great Inn (Khan) and Selimiye Mosque and a panoramic city tour of Nicosia

In Girne - Kyrenia be sure to visit the Shipwreck Museum in the castle.