The golden sandy beaches of the Famagusta district, lying in the government controlled area, stretch out in the eastern corner of the island. The popular holiday making centres of Ayia Napa and Paralimni have been called a veritable paradise for anyone who loves the sea and water sports.
The charming scenery includes the tiny fishing harbour of Ayia Napa, and the medieval monastery in the heart of the village, the wind mills and small churches in the surrounding villages, which spread out in the area of Paralimni and Protaras.
This region, which is the main potato-producing area on the island, is known as 'Kokkinochoria' which means 'red-soil villages'. Indeed, the soil of the whole area is deep red in colour, due to a very high metal oxide content.
The villages of this area are equally known for their folk-poets, who are in fact regarded as the best on the island.
Places of Interest in Famagusta
With the Turkish military occupation of Famagusta in 1974, this small town of 6,000 inhabitants, is now the main administrative town of the district. The twin aisled vaulted church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary is decorated with unusual 18th century porcelain plates. Parts of the church belong to the 13th century. Some other interesting churches can also be found in the area.
Originally, a small fishing village, this is now a major tourist centre. The interesting medieval monastery dedicated to out Lady of the Forests stands in the middle of the village, surrounded by a high wall. Its 16th century church is partially underground, cut into the rock. The hostel, west of the church, belongs to the World Council of Churches. The ancient sycamore tree, in front of the south gate, is believed to be 600 years old.
The village has three interesting churches, the small domed 17th century church of Ayios Georghios, the 15th century Ayia Marina church, and a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary with excellent 17th century icons. The views from this village also include, the 'ghost' city of Famagusta, now under occupation of the Turkish army, once the most popular holiday resort in Cyprus, which has lain empty since 1974, as all its inhabitants are now refugees.
At the east entrance of this village is the partially ruined church of Ayios Mamas, which was built around the 12th century, and later rebuilt in the 16th century. Most of the surviving frescoes date from the 16th century. About 1 1/2 km to the west, is the 16th century cruciform church of Panayia Khordajotissa, whose dome has been restored, and the church of Ayios Georghios, an early christian basilica with three aisles.
There is a 16th century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and a 15th century church of Ayios Andronikos, with an octagonal dome, and the remains of murals which can still be distinguised in the apse. Also, the basket making tradition continues at Liopetri.
A picturesque fishing refuge, with the remains of a Venetian watch-tower nearby. The French poet Arthur Rimbaud worked in this area in the 1880s.