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History Of Cyprus

North Cyprus has a rich and epic history, having been invaded and conquered by multiple countries and empires so that each and every region has a mark from almost every past era.


From Kyrenia in the north, all along the Karpaz peninsula, and through to the south in Famagusta, there is a wide range of mosques, churches and castles that simply must be seen to be believed. History is truly a vital part of the make up of Cyprus, affecting the architecture and outlook of the modern world and creating fantastic opportunities for day trips and visits. Click on the links below to find out more information for each region.



British Phone Box



British Colonial Heritage

Soon after the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt, the British took control of Cyprus in 1878 in an agreement with the Turkish Ottomans that gave Turkey guaranteed support were the Russians to attempt an invasion. This protected Britain’s interests in the Suez Canal because of the increased proximity to the Middle East, allowing them to ensure no barriers were put in place that might affect Britain’s trade routes to India. Because of many British opinions that Cyprus was of little use, with small harbours that were deemed unsuitable for naval purposes, this era created little economic opportunity or enhancement.


In the late 1800’s, Cyprus was simply a protectorate of the British Empire, but after WW1, when the Ottomans sided against Britain Cyprus, was annexed and later became a colony in 1925.


A major problem that the British faced whilst Cyprus was a colony was maintaining peace between the Greek Cypriots who had a desire for enosis (union with Greece) and the Turkish Cypriots who began to call for a partition in response. Initially, it was Britain’s plan to give Cyprus to Greece during the war in return for Greece attacking Bulgaria, but the offer was declined, which left Britain to maintain peace.


During the 1930’s the Greek Cypriots began to riot against British rule and terrorist groups were formed in an attempt to rid Cyprus of the British government and military forces. Finally, in 1960, after an Anti-British campaign headed up by the terrorist organisation EOKA, Cyprus gained its independence from Britain. Despite having been independent for many decades now, there are still remnants in North Cyprus from the British rule including what side of the road they drive on, what their laws are like. Similarly, due to the large number of English speaking ex-pats, there are English newspapers and English schools and universities, which reflects the ingrained nature of the colonial heritage.


Infamous Bellapais Village



Historical Timeline of Cyprus

Below is a historic timeline of Cyprus and North Cyprus. Discover the events that have moulded Cyprus over its histroic existence. 


1000 BC – Emergence of the city states and ten city kingdoms

709 BC – Cyprus is conquered and unified by the Assyrian Empire

669 BC – City kingdoms declare independence from Assyrian rule

570 BC - Amasis II and the Egyptians conquer Cyprus

525 BC – Cyprus declares allegiance to the Persian Empire and the Persian army defeats the Egyptians.

499 BC – Cyprus joins the Ionian revolt against Persian rule

450 BC – Kition (modern day Larnaca) increases in importance and Phoenician rulers (also known as Canaanites) establish themselves in Salamis

386 BC – Persian rule over Cyprus is accepted by Athens

350 BC – A Cypriot rebellion begins

344 BC – The rebellion is crushed by Artaxerxes II

58 BC – Cyprus becomes a Roman province

51 BC – Placed under the rule of Cleopatra by Julius Caesar

30 BC – Cleopatra dies and Cyprus reverts to Roman control

45 AD – Paul of Tarsus, St Barnabus and St Mark introduce Christianity to Cyprus and convert the Roman governor

115 AD – Kitos war, Jewish revolt which results in the Jews being expelled from Cyprus by Trajan

350 AD – Salamis is rebuilt after earthquake destruction and is renamed Constantia after the man who rebuilt it (Constantius II)

395 AD – Cyprus becomes part of the Byzantine Empire

647 AD – Cyprus is invaded and occupied by Arabs

683 AD – Arabs withdraw after defeat from Constantine IV

965 – Cyprus is restored to complete Byzantine rule

1185 – Cyprus becomes independent

1192 – Richard the Lionheart invades and captures Cyprus and it is sold to Guy of Lusignan

1489 – The French Lusignans end their rule and Cyprus is sold on to the Venetians. Ottoman Turks raid the Karpas Peninsula

1539 – Ottoman Turks raid Limassol

1570 – Ottoman Turks conquer Cyprus and claims Nicosia after a siege.

1571 – The Venetian rule ends and Famagusta surrender after hearing of the Nicosia surrender.

1625 – The plague arrives in Cyprus

1700 – The plague ends, but has claimed half the lives of the Cypriot population

1869 – The Suez Canal is opened

1878 – The British occupy Cyprus in order to protect their route through the Canal to India.

1914 – Britain annexes Cyprus due to Turkey’s alliance with Germany in WW1

1960 – British occupation ends

1974 – North Cyprus declares independence from the south

2003 - Borders of North Cyprus open and people can travel freely between borders.

2003 - Direct Traveller pioneers and launches the first "North Cyprus holidays with non-stop direct flights to Larnaca airport for decades.


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