Famagusta is located in the eastern part of the island, in the bay that bears its name. Ancient Famagusta was named Salamis. It was later renamed Arsinoe and Constantia. Its Greek Cypriot inhabitants were expelled in 1974 by the Turkish army and today live in the cities and villages of free Cyprus. It is mentioned with this name (Famagusta) which literally means the city buried in the sand, from the 4th AD. century. Indeed, Famagusta was a world-renowned tourist resort between 1960 and 1974, due to its golden sandy beach. ''Ammochostos''(Famagusta its Frankish name) is also the capital of the homonymous province of Cyprus which in 1974 had more than 40,000 inhabitants. Famagusta has been described as a ghost town, since the Greek Cypriots have been expelled since August 14, 1974, and since then most of the city remains closed and deserted, with the occupying army not allowing the return of its legal inhabitants, despite the relevant United Nations resolutions and decisions.
The period around 1191 AD. is considered the first golden period of Famagusta. It is said that it had a hundred thousand inhabitants who were all very rich. A foreign traveler of the time wrote about Famagusta: "It is the richest of all cities and its inhabitants the richest of all people. "Once upon a time, a man from Famagusta who engaged his daughter wore a golden crown on her head with so much jewelry that when the French saw her, they said that her value exceeded all the jewelry in France." The well-known chronographer of that time, Leontios Macheras, writes somewhere in his Chronicle about a resident of Famagusta: "He scatters pearls and precious stones as if they were wheat". Famagusta of that time is a unique cosmopolitan center. It is said that a hundred different languages were heard in the city. Magnificent houses, majestic temples adorned the city and mighty walls with towers and ramparts gave it security and distinctive picturesqueness. On the Venetian walls of Famagusta is the tower of Othello and on the gate is the built-in lion of St. Mark, who is said to have opened his mouth once a year. The first one who managed to put his hand in his mouth found a great treasure.
The Tower of Othello owes its name to the Shakespearean hero of the tragedy of the same name who drowned the Venetian wife of Disdaimonas out of jealousy.
It is also said that in Famagusta there were, as in Constantinople, three hundred and sixty-five churches that operated one every day. A famous church that survives to this day is the Cathedral of Agios Nikolaos of Gothic architecture, unique beauty and grandeur. This is where the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus were crowned. Today it has been turned into a mosque by the Turkish conquerors.
The historical course of Famagusta continues and follows the fate of the rest of Cyprus. Here is a countdown with a number of computerization and discounts. Famagusta, which was once the first, the golden city, is going through difficult times and its inhabitants are becoming increasingly poor. In 1570, Sultan Selim II sent an ultimatum asking the Venetians to hand over Cyprus to him. "If you want to avoid the impending misery of war, what is Cyprus but a reef?" The Venetians refuse and on July 3, 1570 the Turks land in Cyprus and occupy it except Famagusta which besieges it for a year to fall into the hands of the Turks in August 1571. Irony of bad luck. Because we modern Famagusta residents also left Famagusta in August 1974.
From 1574 the Turks did not allow Christians to live in Famagusta. So since then Christians have been forced to live outside Famagusta, further south in the suburbs in Varosia where it was necessary to expand and develop so that before the Turkish invasion of 1974, Varosia or Varosi, the new Famagusta to become a unique cosmopolitan center in the eastern Mediterranean.
Solamente Famagosta, dear friends. Only Famagusta!
Two words written by Julio Savornan, the creator of the Venetian fortification of Nicosia, in a letter dated 13 June 1558 explaining to Venice why only Famagusta can protect Cyprus! Two words that clearly explain what Famagusta was and what it is for the whole of Cyprus!
Because it is not just our lives and breaths, our homes and possessions that are trapped behind the barbed wire today. It is primarily our history, because Engomi, Salamis and Famagusta are nothing but the eternal, painful and stubborn course of a unique and unrepeatable state that despite the disasters, whether natural or human, insisted on its existence and loudly declared its its existence as a glorious state that experienced both rise and fall at the same time.
Dear friends, we left as provided by the terms of the tradition of the city and we built further south, in the suburb of the great state, there in our own city, Varosi. Know that Varosh in Turkish means suburb. Our grandparents and fathers worked there, there we built our new city, the Greek High School, Agios Nikolaos, Agia Triada, Ai Giannis, the Lyceum of Greek Women, our Museum, Paul Georgiou lived there, we lived there for years. Unforgettable years... Before we left on August 13, 1974, Famagusta was definitely the Heart of Cyprus, the port and the industry supplied and supported almost exclusively the economy of the newly established democracy. The unique beach brought us tourism, the city grew, flourished, lived unique years ... A city that in 1974 was buzzing with life, a city that did not sleep! A cosmopolitan city that lived its sea, the Nautical Club, its world, a city that inspired poets, Seferis, Elytis, a dream city.