Culture and History of North Cyprus
With a long and varied history that spans a period in excess of ten millennia, and occupation by almost all the civilisations that have ruled the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus has a culture that reflects her many rulers.
The early artefacts of Neolithic man dating from 9000BC show early humankind realised that necessity was the mother of invention and the stone tools they left behind were primitive implements whose design and function helped them in their formative stages of evolution.
Copper was traded with Egypt and Syria in the 2nd millennia BC and the Phoenicians settled in the island approximately 1000 BC. In the centuries to follow Cyprus was ruled in turn by the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Greeks. Alexander the Great incorporated the island into his kingdom and the Ptolemaic period of circa 250 years that followed saw Pafos become the capital city.
In 58 BC Cyprus became a province of the expanding Roman Empire and Christianity started to spread after the missions of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. As the Roman Empire collapsed, it merged with the Byzantine Empire that ruled from Constantinople and the island entered a period of flourishing commercial success. In addition, the church of Cyprus became self-ruling with its own Patriarch.
The Arab raids of the 7th C AD had a devastating effect on all the coastal towns and considerably upset trade over a period in excess of 300 years, and the harsh rule of the last Byzantine Emperor Isaac Comnenus did little to improve the lives of the Cypriots with punishing taxes and curtailment of individual freedom.
Comnenus overreached himself by capturing the betrothed of Richard the Lionheart when she was journeying to the Holy Land, forcing the King of England to arrive in Cyprus, do battle for his lady and take the island from an unworthy ruler. Richard first sold the island to the Knights Templar, who after a very brief period handed it back, and it was then given to Guy de Lusignan, recently exiled King of Jerusalem.
If you are interested in architecture and history, North Cyprus has an abundance of sites to explore. Visit the ancient ruins of Salamis, the mountain top castles of Kyrenia or the various museums with exhibits ranging from religious paintings and archaeological finds to shipwrecks and military tanks.