April 17, 2013

0604 NORTH CYPRUS - Famagusta, the Ghost Town

Located on the east coast of Cyprus, in a bay between Cape Eloea and Cape Greco, and home to the deepest harbour on the island, Famagusta is de jure the capital of Famagusta District of the Republic of Cyprus, and de facto capital of Gazimağusa District of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey. Founded in 300 BC by Greeks settlers, it remained for a long time a fishing village, then a small port. The things have changed radically with the downfall of Acre (1291), the last major stronghold of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, followed by an influx of Christian refugees and the passing under the rule of the French Lusignan dynasty. Thus the village became one of the richest cities in Christendom.

In 1372 the port was seized by Genoa, but in 1489 Venice gained the control upon it, making it the capital of the island. Both have made Famagusta incredibly prosperous, so much so that it was said that ordinary merchant’s daughters wore finer jewels than the kings of Europe at the time. In 1571 it was the last stronghold in Venetian Cyprus which has surrendered to the army of Lala Mustafa Pasha, after a siege of thirteen months, during which the Ottoman forces had lost 50,000 men. Under Ottoman rule, Famagusta has lost its commercial importance and strategic, the city being used as an exile home for political prisoners. In the British period (1878–1960), the port regained significance, as a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India.

In the 1960s Famagusta became one of the most cosmopolitan resorts in the Middle East. Popular among the rich and famous, as Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch and Brigitte Bardot, it was famous for its elegant hotels, the stylish promenade and luxury restaurants. In 1974, during Turkish Cypriot conflict, it was bombed and stormed by the Turkish army, which entered with tanks in the city. Fearing of a massacre, the civilians were evacuated in haste and forced to leave everything in their houses, convinced that they would return soon, which will happen never. Three years later, the Swedish journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson made a reportage there, naming for the first time the city "The Ghost Town", name kept until today.

The largest medieval building in Famagusta is Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (in the postcard), originally known as Saint Nicholas's Cathedral and later as the Ayasofya (Saint Sophia) Mosque. The city was so wealthy at the end of 13th century, that the city masters decided that it needed a full-blown Latin cathedral. The architects were brought from France to design and build between 1298 and 1326  this Gothic masterpiece,  based on Rheims Cathedral. It was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Empire captured the town and it remained a mosque until today, in 1954 being renamed after the conquerer.

In the upper right corner of the postcard can be seen the ruins of the Church St George of the Latins, built in the last quarter of the 13th century. Its design was supposedly inspired by Saite-Chapelle church in Paris, which was built in 1241.

About the stamps

The both stamps are part of a series named Orchids & Wildflowers, issued on 2008 and consisting of two sets, each with five stamps. On the postcard are:
• Summer asphodel / Asphodelus aestivus (25 TRY)
• Common daisy / Bellis perennis (60 TRY)

Famagusta - Wikipedia
Famagusta, Oraşul-Fantomă - Consilier vacanţe
Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque - Cyprus44
Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque - Wikipedia
St George of the Latins Church - Whatson-Northcyprus, A Guide for Residents and Visitors

sender: Filiz Yüzbaş (direct swap)
sent from Girne (North Cyprus), on 25.02.2013
photo: Tevfik Ileri

No comments:

Post a Comment