Kyrenia (Girne) & the North in detail

Other Features

Feature: What’s in a Name?

Since 1974, all the original Greek place names in Northern Cyprus have been replaced by Turkish names. Road signs to Kyrenia (Girne) and Famagusta (Gazimaǧusa) usually state both names but road signs for smaller towns and villages just display the Turkish name. Those only familiar with the pre-partition names may find it difficult to navigate without a new road map, available from the tourist information office in Kyrenia.

Note on Name Use

For towns still commonly known by their original Greek name – Kyrenia, Famagusta, Bellapais and Morfou – we use the Greek name first with the Turkish name in brackets. For the capital, North Nicosia, we use its English name first with the Turkish name (Lefkoşa) afterwards. For all other names, to help aid navigation while in the country, we use the Turkish name first with the original Greek name in brackets afterwards.

Feature: Keeping the Coast

The stretch of coast from Kyrenia (Girne) to Yenierenköy (Yiallousa) was once one of the most untouched habitats in the region. Today, it’s seen many changes. New roadways have caused great swaths of coastline to be paved, and large stretches of undisturbed land have been heavily and quickly developed, with tourism complexes shooting up en masse.

This development began in earnest when the 2004 'Annan plan', which provided a framework for the island’s reunification, stipulated that all undeveloped Greek land in the North would be returned to its pre-1974 owners, and that compensation would be awarded in cases where land had already been developed. Ultimately the South rejected the Annan plan by majority referendum. However, Northern developers ploughed ahead in case an agreement eventuated. Since then, development has continued unabated with vast swaths of ancient olive groves felled to build identikit holiday-home complexes and big luxury casino-hotel developments peppering the shoreline.

Development has affected much natural habitat and regional wildlife, and cultural-heritage sites are also at risk. In 2004 the Turkish Cypriot Department of Antiquities and Museums was up in arms after the necropolis of Vounos, near Kyrenia, was damaged: 140 ancient tombs were bulldozed by a private company building luxury-home complexes. Even after discovery, the company pushed ahead, citing its right to build with government permits.

Politically, these incidents have only added to Greek Cypriot concerns over their rights and land ownership, further complicating the most difficult aspect of any resolution process between North and South. For now, environmentalists on both sides would settle for measured, sustainable and ecofriendly development that would keep certain areas safe while negotiations continue to secure the island’s future.

Feature: Kyrenia's Carob History

The Old Harbour in Kyrenia (Girne) may be chock-a-block full of restaurants and cafes today but the beautiful stone buildings that line the waterfront once played an important role as warehouses for the carob industry.

Carob has been cultivated in Cyprus since the 1st century AD and was one of the island’s major exports from the medieval era right up to the end of the British Mandate period. As the Kyrenia region harvested nearly 30% of Cyprus’ carob tree pods, Kyrenia port became the centre for the trade.

The harbour-front buildings were used as warehouses to store the carob (as well as other exports such as olive oil and cotton) before being shipped out to Europe. Although the international carob trade collapsed in the 1960s, carob continues to be harvested in Northern Cyprus to be made into the beloved pekmez (molasses) condiment.