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only the carved stonework now remains. The pillared interior is
Want of drainage.
Fortifications. Ancient history.
high and massive, and when made must have been very strong; they are now in a dilapidated condition, and by no means as perfect as those of Famagusta. The rampart consists of two retaining walls of stone with earth rammed in between them, in places they are 30 or 40 feet high; the top is level and is used as a walk and ride. The ditch, if ever there was one, is now wholly obliterated, and as the town is commanded by high ground within range on three sides, it could not in its present state be held against the fire of modern artillery. The ramparts are armed with about 50 guns, most of which are of old and curious patterns, and quite obsolete; some are Venetian bronze cannon, and both guns and carriages are quite worn out and unserviceable, with the exception of a few English naval guns made in the reign of George III, from which it is possible to fire salutes. The fortress of Nicosia, defended by the Venetians, withstood for 45 days a vigorous siege on the part of the Turks, it was at last taken by storm on the 9th September, 1570, and from that day commenced the rapid decline and decay of the city, which was so celebrated in the time of the Lusignans.
Famagusta (called by the Turks, Maoussa) occupies the site of the ancient Ammochostos, one of the royal cities which paid tribute to Assyria, and it is also said that Ptolemy Philadelphus founded here one of the four cities named by him after his sister Arsinée. After the battle of Actium, Augustus called it Fama Agusti, from which the present name is derived. The town, which had been built 800 years ago by the Christians out of the ruins of Salamis, was destroyed by the Turks in 1571, after the terrible siege during which the Venetian soldiers so long and heroically defended their position.
Famagusta is situated on the east coast of the island, in the bay of the same name, and about 4% miles south of the ancient city and port of Salamis.
This once considerable and important city is now described as consisting simply of a mass of ruins, and the streets are said to be at present only lanes almost choked up by the fallen ruins of the adjacent buildings. Under the Lusignans and the Venetians, Famagusta was a populous city, counting its beautiful churches by hundreds, and its palatial mansions by thousands. Now the place is almost uninhabited, except by a company of Turkish soldiers, and the native population is not above 500, all of whom are Mussulmans. Of the 300 churches which are said to have existed, two only now remain; the beautiful Latin Cathedral of St. Nicolas is now used as the Turkish mosque of Famagusta; it is a very large and fine structure in the Gothic style, and although it is much ruined, the rose windows bricked up, the frescoes covered with plaster, and the altar-piece dismantled, its splendid proportions still remain in their original grandeur. The other church is used as a granary and stable by the Turks. On the still existing walls of many of the fine mediaeval churches, frescoes remain plainly visible in the interiors. The hewn stones with which the houses are built
are lying about in all directions; the few inhabited houses are of
Present unhealthiness of the town.
Fortifications of Famagusta.
cut into the rock; it measures about 80 feet in width and 25 feet in depth; at one time the sea was admitted into it, but it is now dry. The only gate on this side is at the south-west corner, the road leading to Varoschia passes through it, and it is provided with a drawbridge and portcullis. The only other gate is on the side of the port, and is called the water-gate; a deep and winding archway with a portcullis, here leads under the rampart of a circular bastion to a rude pier of loose stones. There is a citadel on the sea-side, which is isolated from the remainder of the works by a ditch of stagnant water. The armament of the fortifications is in a very neglected state; on the open space above the water-gate are four bronze Turkish guns of very old patterns, and mounted on rotten carriages; these are just in a sufficient state of preservation to fire salutes, but could scarcely be used for anything else. Several of the large Venetian bronze guns, bearing the date 1569, lie dismounted close inside the ramparts. Some of the worst criminals of the Turkish Empire have until now been confined in the fortress of Famagusta.
Although this description shows that Famagusta is at present in the last state of ruin and decay, still the natural advantages of the place, particularly as regards facilities for the construction of a harbour, are so great that in all probability the town will occupy an important place in the future history of Cyprus. The existing remains of the ancient port are fully described in the chapter upon the Coast at page 65.
Larnaca, at present the chief commercial town of Cyprus, is situated on the south-east coast of the island in a bay of the same name, contained between Capes Pila and Kiti.
According to General, di Cesnola, the town takes its name from the ancient tombs over which it is partly built; it has been supposed by some that the word Larnaca, signifying in Greek a box or chest, and sometimes a funeral urn or tomb, contained an allusion to unhealthiness in the place, but this hardly appears to be the case. The ancient Citium once occupied the site on which Larnaca now stands, and traces of Byzantine architecture are also to be found in the neighbourhood.
Larnaca is comparatively a modern town, having sprung into existence since the conquest af the island by the Turks, but, like some of the ancient cities of Cyprus, it consists of two separate districts a short distance apart. The portion which borders the sea-shore is called the Marina (travellers at the beginning of this century always called it Salines), while Larnaca proper is to the north, and about three-quarters of a mile inland. Some 40 or 50 years ago the Marina consisted only of a few scattered houses and stores, and all the Foreign Consuls and chief residents lived at the inland part of the town; but, since the pirates of the Greek Archipelago who used to infest these shores, have, thanks especially to the efforts of England, been exterminated, the Marina has become the more important district of the two, and is a comparatively thriving and busy place. At present a line of dwelling-houses, bazaars, and cafés extends for about a mile along the shore, and the strand is a thoroughfare from end to end of the sea front, which is chiefly shingle; the existing stone jetties are almost entirely ruined and useless, so that new ones constructed of wood had to be provided for the disembarkation of our troops; the massive stone work of the Lusignans is nearly everywhere crumbling down into the water. The Foreign Consuls now, with only one or two exceptions, live on the Marina, in a row of buildings close to the sea; several mosques and churches are close by ; the Konak, or government building, is a large irregular house on the western edge of the Marina, close to the little fort, and there is a telegraph office communicating with Beyrout; it is said that of late years the Marina has increased in the same ratio as Larnaca proper has become depopulated. The external appearance of the houses is rather humble, they are generally built of mud bricks dried in the sun, and, as a rule, have only one story above the ground floor: this is said to be a precaution against the earthquakes which are severely felt here; still there are some houses of several stories, and the interiors of many are both spacious and comfortable, many of the apartments are paved with a kind of marble, and have long corridors, roomy staircases, and high ceilings, all of which are very necessary in such a climate. All the better class of houses stand within a courtyard and garden, and are provided with large verandahs standing upon light pillars. The roofs, which are supported by short beams of red pine, generally consist of bamboo matting plastered over with a thick layer of mud; the cementing is essected by the use of talc. Between the Marina and the upper town, is a large establishment belonging to the Sisters of Charity, containing a chapel, school, and dispensary. In Larnaca, there is a fine old Latin church, called St. Lazarus, which is surrounded by rows of pillars with pointed arches between them. The main part of the church is built in the form of a cross, with a dome in the centre, and is evidently of great antiquity; it comprises three long and large vaults surrounded by cupolas. A Greek bishop resides at Larnaca and the population is now more Greek than Turkish; in 1863 the inhabitants were reported to be 10,000 in number, the present population is probably greater. The country surrounding Larnaca, is arid, uninteresting, and generally without verdure, the soil is white and calcareous. It has been generally reported that the climate of Larnaca is unhealthy in the summer months, and that intermittent fevers are very prevalent at that season; this insalubrity may however be easily accounted for by the existence of large marshes and salt lagoons in the immediate vicinity, as well as by the dirty and unwholesome state in which the town has been kept, and there is little doubt that the causes of disease are local, and can be easily removed. Consul Lang says that during his residence in Larnaca, he was able, by means of public subscriptions, to bring under cultivation the worst of the two marshes near the town, and to introduce by iron pipes a good supply of water into the houses: the effect upon the general health of the place was most beneficial, and it is considered that more extensive works of a similar kind, combined with due attention to the cleansing of the town, will remove all existing causes of unhealthiness.