A. The twelve month Ottoman siege 1570-1571
The siege of Famagusta lasted a whole year. Numerous accounts and narrations report in detail the harsh and tragic fall of the city. From literary and historical sources, as well as from maps related to the siege of the city, it has become clear that Famagusta resisted to the merciless Ottoman attack up until the very last minute. The Venetian Governor-General Marcantonio Bragadino fought with all his might and bravery and despite repeated calls to reach truce with the Turks, Bragadino only accepted to negotiate the terms of a capitulation with Mustapha Pasha at the very end when all ammunitions and food had finished. He negotiated the terms of what seemed to be an honourable agreement that would allow Christian Greeks to remain in the city that would henceforth fall under Ottoman administration.
However, Mustapha Pasha did not live up to his promise and the terms of the treaty were broken. The Ottomans unleashed an unprecedented man slaughter, looting and destroying everything they found before them. They tortured and skinned Bragadino and other brave defenders of the city. Very few Westerners managed to flee and return to Venice , whilst the Greeks fled southwards and took refuge in orchards and fields and founded the New Famagusta.
The Siege of Famagusta, a topographical map that shows the Turkish army camping
outside the mediaeval city. From the book of Rosaccio, Franco “Viaggio da Venetia”, 1610.
Courtesy by the Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus
The Ottoman siege 1570-1571, (click on thumbnails or captions to see enlarged photographs)
B. Ottoman Rule 1571-1878
From 1571 when the Ottoman occupation began, no Christian subject was allowed to live within the walls. Neither could Christian ships approach the harbour. This situation led to the city’s desertion and inevitable decline. The ruins and desolation of the city is described by many travellers who visited Cyprus at the time. Mariti recalls “Who would have imagined such abandonment, that only 200 souls remain in the city? Ancient homes are being sold and their buyers are tearing them apart in order to get all the wooden furniture they can. However, they are not allowed to take stones. That is why there are so many stones everywhere. Outside the walls of the city, south of Famagusta and along the coastline there are gardens and orchards full of citrus fruit. And next to these orchards is the village of Varosha where one can find numerous Orthodox churches. Expelled from their forbidden city, the Greeks constructed new lives, southwards, outside the city walls.”
Ottoman Rule 1571-1878 (click on thumbnails or captions to see enlarged photographs)