… a bit of Political Geography
To make clear what is the green line, Famagusta and what borders am I talking about lets have a little look into Cypriot political geography and history.
Cyprus, as an island, has been under the control of British Empire from 1878 (known as a British Cyprus) and in 1960, when the independent Republic of Cyprus were declared and their first president was elected, it look like a nice start for this country. However the peace and independence haven’t last long and in the year 1974 Cyprus has been invaded by the Turkish forces, which lead to separating the island into two countries – Republic of Cyprus and Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus (even thought Turkey is the only country who recognises it). Between the countries there is so called Green line which is a territory belonging to United Nations.
Due to this situation famous summer resort called Famagusta, located almost at the dividing line, became a military area of the Turkish republic of North Cyprus. It also obtained a name Ghost town, since no one is allowed to enter this city apart from the army an you can only see the crumbling building from outside of town.
… and back to Protaras
So now when we made our terms clear, we can finally jump into Protaras. Located also near to this border but in the Greek part of island
Protaras, as a part of Republic of Cyprus (South / Greek part), is home to a Greek Cypriots. But honestly, mainly its home of tourists from Great Britain, Russia and Nordic countries or workers from Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia. Most of locals live in the near by city Paralimni or villages around, Therefore when you come into this area out off season you will find the town almost empty, without any open shops or restaurants, looking kind of like a ghost town as well.
But if you come during the season, you can be sure, the place will not be empty.
Where to go …
So lets take it slowly from the epicentre.
Strip of Protaras is not possible to miss due to huge add to Mc Donald’s. This street is full of shops, restaurants, fast foods, bars and supermarket. But when you just turn and follow any of the streets that are crossing the main road, you will end up at the beach front with a nicely blue and clean water and long sandy beach (Protaras Beach). Alongside the beach there is also a nice path that goes through the whole Protaras ending up in Pernera.
Pernera is another touristic area between Protaras and Paralimni, with possibility of walking there or getting a bus. Anyway Pernera is smaller than Protaras and there is not much to see, only if you get bored with the beaches in Protaras, the walk alongside the coast is nice and the beaches in Pernera are less crowded and more rugged (it is also a nice walk during the night since its not so warm and there are lights at the path).
As far as the Paralimni is concerned this is a city of locals and there is nothing to see at all. Only if you want to go to the cheaper supermarket, restaurant or if you plan to travel a bit through the island with public busses then you will get most of them from Paralimni.
Most famous beaches:
- Fig Tree Bay – Probably most popular beach in Protaras, where you can walk down from the strip
- Protaras Beach – Its 1.5 km (roughly 1.25 miles) long strip of beaches that copies the the main Strip of Protaras up to Fig Tree Bay
- Green Bay – If you keep walking south from Fig Tree Bay you will find a Green Bay beach, which is famous for scuba diving, since this is one of the main scuba diving areas in Cyprus.
- Konnos Beach – If you get out of Protaras in direction to Ayia Nappa, there is a beautiful Konnos beach surrounded by the cave, mountain and beginning of Cape Greco National Park.
In Cyprus you can find many churches and monasteries.
- St. Elias church – most famous church in Protaras, that you will probably see when you will be arriving into your hotel. It is a small nice church on the rock mountain with a nice view at Protaras and beautiful sunrise and sunsets. Also has lights on it during the night. Definitely wort seeing it. (Little advice with climbing up the Rock mountain. Not many people knows but you don’t need to climb through the stairs. If you follow the round around the kiosk to the left and go up, then turn left into the dead end road. You can climb to the church from the other side just with a few steps)
- Agios Nikolas – nice white coloured church that you will cross on the path to Pernera. Has a quite beach next to it and also looks nice during the night.
- Church in a cave – don’t know the name of this church cause I haven’t seen it in any guide, just found it during my walk. It is a tiny church made in a cave. Very nice but a bit complicated to find. While you are in Protaras there is, basically, only mountain that you can see (behind the St Elias church) so you need to climb there and get to the end of the highest point, where this church is waiting for you to reward your effort.
Places around …
As I have already mentioned this places, it worth going there not just to look at the ghost town and wonder about what happened there, or swimming next to the fence dividing the city or just for the feeling that you have crossed the border and visited both countries at the island. Famagusta is not just the ghost town, it is also a city of different culture and influence then the south part of island.
Famagusta also has an old town that you can visit, with gorgeous medieval walls around the old city, where you are entering into the part with ruins of the city that has been here many decades before us.
After the contemplation of old town and ghost town in Famagusta, there is a contrast called Ayia Nappa. Modern city famous for it’s night life. If you want a party this is the place to visit, full of bars and restaurants.
But its not only about parties. You can find here also
- Luna park
- Water park – that belongs to the top water parks in europe
- Plenty of shops and restaurants
- Nice beaches, with the most famous one called Nissie Beach
Even if you didn’t come here to explore and walk. You still should sacrifice one day of your comfort and get here. It is a South East headland with a beautiful view on the coast that goes to Ayia Nappa, view of the land that around Protaras area, clearly blue sea, or as usual in Cyprus British military area.
There is many places to see nerby Protaras, if you come for one or two weeks holidays, as far as it has probably nicest beaches in the whole Island and with the high temperatures in the summer, the sea is nicely warm, perfect for relaxing holidays. If you, on the other hand, lean to being active you can go scuba diving, jet skiing, paragliding and exploring.
PS: Just never call the north part of Cyprus as a Turkish Part in front of local people, they tend to be very sensitive about this topic and still haven’t accepted the fact of the invasion.