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The less built-up, Turkish speaking northern part of the island is well described in In a Contested Realm, Allan Langdale’s 2012 guide to its history and archaeology. The comparatively flat, fertile agricultural land extends in a long finger pointing northeastwards above the bay of Famagusta and ancient Salamis, once the island’s principal city. Famagusta (Greek: Ammochostos; Turkish: Gazimağusa) has well preserved Venetian fortifications, and the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, like the Selimiye Mosque in Nicosia, is built into a Gothic cathedral, instant evidence of the competing cultures. Kyrenia (Girne) is the tourist capital of the coast with a fine waterfront castle dating from Byzantine times, and there are three other Byzantine castles in the surroundingn hills. The island’s largest han, today a craft centre, was built in Nicosia immediately after the Ottomans arrived, designed for merchants from Alanya and modelled on the Koza Han in Bursa. As the capital of both northern Cyprus and the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus, Nicosia is divided in half.
As a trading hub and source of copper ore, the eastern Mediteranean's largest island is rich in Byzantine art and has been attracting tourists, traders and invaders since the birth of Aphrodite. It was part of the Byzantine Empire from AD395, and its churches are renowned. After falling under Latin rule following Arab attacks, it was taken by the Ottomans in 1570 who had it until 1870 when the British stepped in, finally annexing it in 1914. Some icons and other church artworks that disappeared after the Turkish arrival in 1974 have recently been found and returned.
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