We reached Famagusta in the afternoon and bearing in mind the fact that night in Cyprus fell abruptly we wouldn't have much time to thoroughly admire the number of edifices worth being visited in what was once the world's wealthiest city.
We came across the 14th century Othello Castle, whose construction was ordered by the Lusignans (who ruled Cyprus at the time) so as to protect the port against enemy attacks. After Cyprus was sold to the Republic of Venice, the Castle's square towers are said to have been replaced by circular ones to fit more modern artillary and the lion of St. Mark carved above the gate. We gained no access to its interior as it was Sunday and the premises closed for visits.
We walked a bit further into the heart of the city, having come across the Church of St. John (Latin) built in the late 13th century during the reign of the French King Louis IX. Having been one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture it was largely reduced to ruins, though it was possible to imagine what it had been like by looking at the still standing North Wall with the Presbitary Gothic windows.
Past the inner market arcades we sighted the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, a former Cathedral built between 1298 and 1312 to a Gothic design modelled on Reims Cathedral. It is said to have been here that Lusignan royalty received the symbolic title pf "King of Jerusalem" following the coronation.
Once the city was captured in 1571 the Turk invaders converted it into a Mosque, having a minaret added to the left tower and it named after the commander of the besieging army - Lala Mustafa Pasha.
We visited its interior with the columns supporting the Gothic vaulting. The minbar in the right aisle looked rather modest and so did the whole decoration, except for the unmodified architectural elements dating back to the Lusignan's.
We soon approached the old tripple-arched façade supported by four granite columns pertaining to the former Palazzo del Provveditore, palace of the Lusignan kings and the Venetian governors. Above the central arch one could see the coat of Arms of the former Venetian military commander of Cyprus - Giovanni Renier.
(To be continued)