Turkish Republic of North Cyprus

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is interesting to visit, but also in its history. After all, no nation other than Turkey gives this region any diplomatic recognition. A de facto republic, North Cyprus has struggled to establish its identity since it declared its independence in 1983, and it doesn't seem like the political situation will be resolved anytime soon. That being said, many travelers choose to visit the resorts and cities in North Cyprus, and the relations between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots to the south has improved over time. The border, or buffer zone as it is, that separates Northern Cyprus from the southern Greek region essentially courses through the heart of the country. Almost halfway along its stretch is the Cyprus capital of Nicosia.

Nicosia is a fascinating city, in that half of it is Greek and the other half is Turkish. The narrow, winding streets in the Turkish part of Nicosia are enjoyable to wander, and you just might find yourself thinking that you have been whisked off to mainland Turkey. Walking tours are especially rewarding in the Old City of Cyprus's capital, especially since attractions such as the Selimiye Mosque and the Belediye Market figure among the dazzling attractions. The Selimiye Mosque is the most renowned attraction in the North Cyprus district of Nicosia. Work started on this former church in the 1200s, and it was renovated and changed over time. In 1570, the Ottomans converted it to a mosque, as was the case with some of the other churches on the island. As for the Belediye Market, it is a lively place to be Mondays through Saturdays. Many an interesting character can be found at this produce market, and the variety of fruits and vegetables is impressive.

The Northern Cyprus region is essentially the northern half of Cyprus, and it is just as rewarding for tourists as the southern Greek region. When visitors aren't exploring the northern side of Nicosia on their journey through the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, they can always make a break for the coast. Some of the best beaches in Cyprus can be found on the northern side, and they include Golden Beach. Golden Beach is a delightfully isolated beach that can be found at the edge of the largely undeveloped Karpas Peninsula. There may be no better place to get away from it all on a Cyprus holiday than the Karpas Peninsula, as this part of the island is far removed from the main tourist areas. Both Turks and Greeks live on the Karpas Peninsula, adding to its already interesting character.

South of the Karpas Peninsula, North Cyprus travelers will find more beaches to explore, not to mention an increase in lodging choices. There isn't much in the way of lodging on the Karpas Peninsula, and most visitors end up camping or staying in a relatively simple cabin. That's part of the charm, as long as you don't require a hefty helping of creature comforts. The beach hotels increase in number as you exit the Karpas Peninsula, and many visitors to the area choose to stay near Famagusta.

Famagusta is one of the other major cities the Northern Cyprus region, and it can be found on the east coast. Ever since the 1974 invasion by the Turkish Army, Famagusta has remained in a relative state of limbo. There's even a part of the city that is off limits and has essentially turned into a verified ghost town. Despite its confounding situation, Famagusta can be a joy to explore, and architectural buffs won't want to miss the magnificent cathedral-turned-mosque in the heart of town. Scuba diving enthusiasts will also find that Famagusta caters to them, as diving excursions are relatively easy to book here.

There are lots of interesting things to do in North Cyprus, and many visitors to the region eventually make their way to Kyrenia to enjoy everything that it has to offer. This charming city on the north coast can make an excellent base for a Cyprus holiday, as it offers proximity to a range of delights. Hiking in the nearby mountains is excellent for those who appreciate the great outdoors, and there are plenty of area beaches to relax on. Many visitors to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus also come to Kyrenia to visit the nearby castles and to drive along the quiet stretch of coast that leads to the village of Kaplica. Renting a car and driving up to the beautiful village of Bellapais to take a look around is also recommended on a visit to Kyrenia. The views from this mountain village are breathtaking, and the Augustinian monastery is divine. While some sections of this thirteenth century structure have crumbled, other parts are remarkably preserved.

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus certainly deserves a look when traveling through Cyprus, especially if you want to get a true understanding of the country's history, culture, and people. It is a fascinating part of the world, especially when you consider the cultural side of things, and if nothing else, the beaches on the Karpas Peninsula merit a visit. Food fanatics won't want to leave North Cyprus off of their Cyprus itineraries, as the dining scene complements the scene on the Greek side of things. The Kebabs in this part of the country are especially renowned, and a variety of sweet and sticky pastries can be paired with a cup of coffee or tea when a break from sightseeing is in order.

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