Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
uses Google technology and indexes only and selectively internet - libraries having books with free public access

Previous    First    Next

Canon Pietro Casola
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

page 6

Sultan granted the lands, reserving one-tenth of the produce as rent, and the land passes subject to that reservation. Nor can it be said to be an excessive rent. In India we find one-sixth, one-fourth, and even one-third reserved. Joseph reserved one-fifth in the land of Egypt. In England the landlord is supposed to get one-third, leaving two-thirds for the tenant occupier.
as might be expected, in a country which is almost wholly occupied by peasants, the houses are poor, and exhibit little architectural skill or beauty. They are mostly built of sun-dried bricks; the villages usually contain from twenty to eighty houses, and there are but few considerable towns. The principal of these are: the capital, Nicosia, situated in the centre of the island, and having 12,000 inhabitants; Larnaca, the chief seaport, with about 7000 inhabitants; and Limassol, also on the south coast, with about 6000 inhabitants. These two ports divide between them nearly the whole of the sea-borne trade, Larnaca taking nearly half the exports and three-quarters of the imports, and Limassol the rest of the imports and about half the exports. There is also a small export trade from the ports of Famagusta, Papho, and Lefka, and a moderate trade at Kyrenia, chiefly carried on with the opposite coast of Karamania. To facilitate trade, good iron piers have been built at Larnaca and Limassol; and a breakwater at Kyrenia, where the small country vessels suffered much in winter from northerly gales.
The town of Nicosia presents a pleasing and picturesque appearance to the traveller approaching it from the south. It lies compactly situated within a line of old fortifications, which describe a regular circle round the town. as there is no suburb outside the wall, the ramparts neatly finish off the houses, whose roofs appear above them in pleasing irregularity. The area enclosed by the fortifications is less than a square mile, but at least half of it is occupied by gardens, as nearly every house has a garden attached to it; and viewed from the heights above, the houses are mixed with palm-trees and orange-trees, the latter in great abundance, and scenting the air of the streets quite heavily when in blossom.
Rising above all the surrounding buildings is the old Latin cathedral, now a mosque, with two handsome minarets built on to it. This is kept in very good repair, and underneath the carpets which cover the floor may be seen the old gravestones with the names and effigies of knights and ladies with Latin or old French inscriptions.
Before the Turkish conquest in 1570, Nicosia occupied a much larger area than it does at present; but in anticipation of the Turkish attack, and probably in order to facilitate the defence, the old fortifications were thrown down, and the present ramparts constructed to enclose a much smaller area. All the houses outside the new line of defences were destroyed, and the old ramparts may still be easily traced although they are annually ploughed over.
The point where the Turks attacked was marked for future ages by the erection of a mosque on the breach. There it stands to this day, being called the Standard-bearer's Mosque. It marks the spot where the leader of the Turkish storming party planted the flag of the Crescent on the very summit of the breach, and there he fell. The Moslems, however, pressed forward and drove the Venetians backwards into the town. The defence of the latter must have been most gallant as they fell back on the Governor's palace. The track of the conquerors may be traced to this day by the tombs of their leaders who fell during their advance, and, according to Turkish custom, were subsequently buried where they fell. The Standard-bearer was buried on the summit of the breach where the mosque now stands. At intervals along the streets leading to the old palace, now the Konak or Government Office, are the tombs of others of the Turkish leaders, and when we get to the Konak they are numerous. In the gateway itself is one, just outside is another, others in the courtyard and in the garden, and some upstairs in the rooms. You open a door of one of the offices, and in the corner is a tomb covered with a green flag. All the tombs are similarly cared for, and it strikes me as a fine soldierly trait of the Turkish character thus to hand down in perpetual remembrance the fame of the soldiers who achieved the Ottoman conquests, by the silent witness of their tombs on the spots where they fell. At the time of the British occupation, everything seemed to have been left untouched since the arrival of the Turks. On the ramparts there were the Venetian gunslarge bronze pieces, each profusely ornamented and engraved with the name of the founder and the badges of the Republic; the carriages quite unserviceable from the effect of time; the shot, round and barshot, neatly piled up by the side of each gun; the magazines filled with powder, and over the door of the principal one, the armoured headpiece of a horse, such as you may see in the Tower of Londonthe last relic in Cyprus of the Venetian Knights.
After Nicosia fell, Famagusta still held out for many months. It was the last stronghold of the Venetians, and its gallant defence by the Venetian governor, Bragadino, is a matter of history. For eleven months he withstood the constant attacks of the Turks, and at last, worn out by losses and famine, he surrendered. The Turks, destitute of all sense of chivalry towards a brave

Previous    First    Next

Our banners   Bibliography   Global Folio
All materials from this site are permitted for non commersial use unless otherwise indicated.
If you reduplicate documents from here you have to indicate Cyprus Explorer as a source and place link to us.
Created at June 2008