Morphou (Μόρφου) – Güzelyurt


The municipality of Morphou (Μόρφου) or Güzelyurt (in Turkish) has about 18,000 inhabitants. Do not trust its name in Greek or Turkish: Morphou means “the beautiful” and Güzelyurt, “beautiful city”. That’s not true. With the exception of a few colonial-style villas and the municipal market inherited from the British period (along the main street, Ecevit Caddesi), there is not much pretty around here. Still, it’s one of our favorites. First of all for the friendly welcome of the inhabitants, not jaded by foreign visitors. Then, for its two – and unique – places to visit: the Agios Mamas Monastery and the Museum of Archaeology and Natural History. Of course, this is not enough to justify a stay in Morphou, just a stopover. And if the city cannot rely on tourism to develop, it has other assets: its lush surroundings rich in citrus fruits (50% of the island’s production) and its sparkling American-style campus hosting 3,000 students (mainly Turkish) which was created in 2005 on the northern outskirts by the prestigious Middle East Technical University of Ankara.


Morphou is said to have been founded by the Spartans around the 8th century BC. And it is these same settlers from Greece who may have introduced the cult of Aphrodite here. Constantly inhabited by Hellenophones for millennia, the city never counted more than 200 Turkish speakers after the Ottoman conquest. Everything changed with the Turkish invasion of 1974, with the departure of the 7,500 Greek Cypriot inhabitants and the massive arrival of Turkish Cypriot refugees driven out of the southern area, particularly from Paphos.


Not only citrus but a large acreage of vegetables are grown in this region and with every large town holding a weekly market there is never a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables. Hundreds of hectares are covered in orchards growing every type of citrus fruit known to man and there are roadside stalls selling bottles of freshly squeezed juice. In fact there is such an abundance of fruit that much of it will go to waste. However it is worth remembering that not all oranges are for eating or juicing, there are also those used to make marmalade and any attempt to eat them leaves a bitter taste! The town itself is not of great historical significance apart from once, long ago, being the terminus for the Famagusta to Morphou (Guzelyurt) railway line. In addition there was an extension of the main line that supported the mining works at Gemikonagi though there is now scant evidence of its existence. The main attractions in the town are the church of St. Mamas and the antiquities museum. St Mamas enjoys much popul Read More