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B + 17 : A Blue Print for our Exchanges and two Gothic Mosques

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

After an early night yesterday we got up at 6.30 am this morning and left at 9.00 am for our tour through Cyprus. We decided to skip Kyrenia and visit only the Turkish part of Nicosia, Famagusta and Salamis. Unfortunately, the North Cyprian Authorities did not allow the Carpe Diem V to sail south to Famagusta. They insisted that we leave from Marina Karpaz Gates instead. There is still a lot to learn for the Cyprian Turks if they plan to attract tourists.

Morning at the Marina Karpaz Gates - we now have to leave for Israel from here ...

The first place we visited in Nicosia was the Büyük Han, the old Trading Inn the Turkish Sultan established in 1572, a year after the Ottoman Army conquered Nicosia and kicked out the Venetians. It is actually much more than an Inn. You could trade here, pay, get a meal, some sleep, change money, store your goods and have your animals looked after. Europe's first exchanges in Antwerp and London were designed following this blue print.

Don't know whether you ever walked around the arcades in the Royal Exchange in London just opposite the Bank of England. Their design and the central square are identical. Now a roof covers the central square but it has been added only a good 100 years ago. Of course the Royal Exchange would not look after your camel ...

Evil Eye protection on sale everywhere - guess people here are still very superstitious

About five minutes walking distance thee is the former Saint Sophie Cathedral which became a mosque in 1571. There are only two Gothic mosques in the Muslim world. This one here and the second one in Famagusta. Saint Sophia was built by the Crusaders in the 13th century and a Catholic Church under Venetian rule.

The UN controlled check-point between Northern and Southern Cyprus. It looks very much like business as usual. The military installations such as bunkers, walls and barbed wire are not maintained and in bad shape. They would be useless in an armed conflict. Maybe this is good so.

We then went on a modern highway to Famagusta, about an hour east of Nicosia. Famagusta was fiercely defended by the Venetians in 1571 and lead directly to the Battle of Lepanto which destroyed the Ottoman Fleet. Famagusta surrendered however before. Its Commanding Officer got flayed alive despite promises of honourable treatment. The drama of the Siege of Famagusta forms the background of Shakespeare's Othello.

Famagusta's mosque looks still like the Gothic cathedral it was until 1571

We then visited the formidable walls which held the Ottomans at bay for more than four months. They were modelled after the walls in Rhodes. Again, Turkish artillery could not breach the walls sunk into the surrounding rock. The Famagusta design inspired later the Knights of St John when they built their new home in Malta and Vauban, the famous engineer in Louis XIV services who designed most of France's modern fortresses. The concept of fat walls filled with debris, sunk into the ground to avoid enemy fire and bastions with overlapping fields of fire proved its worth here. Henceforth, attackers with artillery lost he advantage they gained in the 15th century.

On the way back to the van we run into this Turkish dancers who were rehearsing some Derwish routine in an old Christian Church. Amazing how culture moves.

We finished out day by a short visit to Salamis - the Roman Capital of Cyprus. It was abandoned after raided by Arab invaders in 661 AD and its people moved to Nicosia further inland

Salamis was a big and important town. Cyprus was one of the rich Roman provinces. The Roman theatre sat about 15'000 people which puts it on par to Syracuse which supposedly was the biggest theatre in antiquity.

It was a long day - happy to be back to the Carpe Diem V. Our sailing to Israel starts tonight at 01.00 am. As soon as we were back, we checked out, got our passports stamped and were ready. The sailing tomorrow will take us to Haifa.

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