Dr Okan Dağlı
The island of Cyprus is also known with its medieval castles and fortress-cities. In the eastern part of the Mediterranean, it has hosted many civilizations. From the Egyptians, and the Byzantines to the Templar Knights, from the Lusingians, and Venicians to the Ottomans and the British, the island has been invaded many times for military and commercial purposes. Every arriving person has left a part of its own culture and a section from life on the island.
Our guests in the Middle Ages have left us castles as a present. Some of them were tiny, they were placed at the tip of the mountains and in the centers of the cities for military purposes, and some of them were the city itself and still continue to host thousands of population.
Nicosia and Famagusta castles, with its population, still remain to be a bridge between the past and the present. There are very few examples of such fortress-cities in the world. Nicosia Walled-city has another distinctive feature as the world's last divided capital. This division brings a little more abandonment, but even today it is a place you can feel like taking a tour in the middle ages. It contains houses made of stone, monumental buildings and narrow streets, which reflects the memories of the every cornerstone in the history dated centuries ago.
The fortress-city Famagusta has about 550 donums of land, which is smaller than the Nicosia but has a much healthier structure. The silhouette of the walls and monumental structures is clearer. Besides the walls, the temples and treasures are kept away from development, many of their monumental values have been restored, and the history as a whole has been reserved better. The distance between the history and modern life has been physical and geographically separated by clearer boundaries. When you pass the historic Land Gate and enter to the city from Akkule (Ravelin), you immediately feel the mystical atmosphere of the city. You go back in centuries as you are in a a time tunnel.
How can we store our fortress cities from the past to the future?
From the beginning of the 1980's, when the modernization began right after the division of the island, our fortress cities also got affected from this. People, who were stuck in the walled city and its stone houses that were antiquated together with all the restraints, have begun to leave the fortress city and moved out towards the wider territories with their modern architecture. Centuries old stone houses, mansions have fallen into death silence, they have been torn from life. This abandon continued until the beginning of the last century.
Lately, people especially those who can travel and experience more as the means of communication and transportation allows us, have begun to realize their own values. The value of each stone, each street of the fortress city has begun to be understood.
In the meantime, a tourist density that had enough of the artificial surroundings and the concept of sea, sun and sand that has been created by mass tourism, have begun to be attracted by the locality of the place and they are more interested with intertwining with the historical texture and values together with the local people.
Those seeking to identify the past, and to sense the texture of that century and to return their roots, have generated special interest tourism.
Many tourists who are tired of mass tourism activities and who are considering to travel to the depths of human beings are thinking to move away from the violence of daily routine imposed by modern life and to escape towards more calm activities such as being in the nature and visiting historical spots, and involve with local cultures.
Is it possible that the fortress-cities are a way out?
Abandoned in the last quarter of a century, these cities, which have become increasingly popular, can be the center of attraction for special interest tourism. Small boutique hotels and, most importantly, a few guesthouses with a few rooms, can turn these cities into a bliss.
After the arrangements to be made, the medieval cities that will host the people coming from many different countries at their guest houses, walking distance places such as coffee houses, restaurants, small markets that are located next to the centuries old monumental structures, away from car noises, with pedestrian paths the fortress-cities can host a multicultural life from scratch.
Famagusta walled-city just because of these values is now preparing for this as a result of personal initiatives these days. With the "vintage" hotel built in the past and now being renovated, and modern or historic guesthouses that are converted from old houses Famagusta is ready for its guests.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Kasım 2017, 09:32