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HISTORY OF CYPRUS

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Canon Pietro Casola
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

page 7

enemy, revenged themselves for the losses they had experienced by flaying him alive. His skin was ultimately given up to the Venetians, and was deposited in an urn which was placed in one of the churches in Venice, where it is still to be seen.
Famagusta was fortified like Nicosia, and was jealously guarded by the Turks. The walls were kept in good order, and the Venetian guns remained on the ramparts. Near the water-gate, in a casemated room, were found heaps of decayed and rusty armour, which evidently had been thrown there after the capture of the city, and had remained there ever since. But though the walls of Famagusta are in good repair, the city within is in ruins. Never was there such a city of ruins; in the midst appear open spaces of ground, some even being ploughed and sown. About 800 persons, all Turks, live within the walls. A new town, called Varoshia, has sprung up half a mile outside the gates, where all the business is carried on. The old cathedral of Famagusta is a very striking building, terribly ruined, but still used as a mosque, like the old cathedral of Nicosia, to which I have alluded.
The only other fortress of any consequence was the fort of Kyrenia, a medival-looking castle picturesquely situated at the water's edge, and occupying one side of the small harbour of Kyrenia. It is now used as a prison.
Three ruined castles, dating from the times of the Crusades, are situated on the northern range of hills. The most important of these is the Castle of St. Hilarion, situated about half a mile to the west of the Kyrenia Pass, and 2380 feet above the sea. Parts of it are in a fair state of preservation, and from the extent of its walls it must have required a garrison of at least 500 men. It was besieged and taken by Richard Cur de Lion when he landed in Cyprus on his way to Palestine. It is easily approached from the east, but on other sides it is inaccessible.
The ruins of another castle are found on the top of Buffa Vento, which is nearly the highest peak on the northern range, and about half-way between Pentedaktylon and the Kyrenia Pass. Very little remains of this ruin, and the most perfect portion, containing a fine Gothic window, was much damaged by an earthquake five or six years ago. The castle is most difficult of access, and its building must have been a work of great labour. It can now only be approached by climbing from the foot of the hills.
The third ruined castle on the northern range is Kantara, situated in the Carpas at an altitude of over 2000 feet. It is in a better state of preservation than the castle of Buffa Vento, though not so good as St. Hilarion. It is called by the Greeks Ekatonspitia (hundred houses). From the castle of Kantara, looking westward along the northern shore, is one of the most beautiful views in the whole island.
There is another beautiful ruin in the northern range, viz. the old monastery of Bellapais, about three miles from Kyrenia. The refectory is still in good repair, and the rest of the building, though roofless, shows distinctly the monks' dormitories, the chapter room, cloisters, &c. The chapel of the monastery is still used as the village church. The tracery of the windows and cloisters is very perfect in many places.
These ruins all date back from the middle ages, mostly from the time of the Lusignan dynasty. Of ancient buildings of an earlier date there are but few remaining. Probably the oldest complete building is the church of the Holy Cross, on the top of the mountain of Santa Croce, which is stated by de Mas Latrie to have been founded in the fourth century. The lower part of the walls is evidently far more ancient than the upper structure, and it was possibly the site of some ancient heathen temple.
There are other places, mostly in ruins, of little architectural interest, but interesting by their traditions, such as the tomb of St. Barnabas (concerning which there is a curious tradition), the old Tower of Kolossi, near Limassol, and remains of ancient cities and temples, whose ruins yield old statues, of no very striking merit, to the antiquity hunter.
Extensive ruins, three miles north of Famagusta, indicate the site of Salamis, once a most flourishing seaport, the place where St. Paul landed when he visited Cyprus. It evidently was a wealthy place, and ruined columns, still remaining, show that an aqueduct conveyed water to the city from the spring at Kythrea, a distance of 25 miles as the crow flies. At Larnaca is the site of the ancient port and citadel of Kitium (or Chittim). A hill called Bamboolah marks the site of the latter, and yields to the excavator large blocks of finely cut stone. There are two ancient independent monasteries, both situated on the southern range, viz. Kikko, which stands on the watershed of the Troodos range at an altitude of 3800 feet, and Machera, which is further east, and is most picturesquely situated on the northern slopes of the southern range. Kikko was founded 800 years ago, but the old building was destroyed by fire in 1817, and then lost all its books and MSS. It is very wealthy, being a shrine of some sanctity, and receiving many pilgrims every year. It possesses property, not only in Cyprus, but also in parts of Turkey, both in Europe and Asia, and considerable property in Tiflis.

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