Myths and Legends of North Cyprus

Myths and Legends of North Cyprus

The Legend of Pygmalion and Galatea

The ancient city of Carpasia was a harbour town located on the coast 4 km west of today’s Dipkarpaz village. It was established during Pagan times as a city-state before christianity. Today, it is possible to see the fortification walls and columns of the palace, as if waiting to be discovered, in the clear waters of the sea.

The Legend of Aphrodite and Adonis

Kinyras(Cinyras), the king of Cyprus, had a daughter who was a legendary beauty, called Smyrna. One day her father let slip the claim that his daughter was more beautiful than the goodness Aphrodite. When Aphrodite heard this, she was angry and decided to make the king and his daughter fall in love with each other. They both fell under the effect of the spell, and she became pregnant by her father. The King’s daughter, ashamed and afraid, sought refuge in a forest. The King, meanwhile, looked everywhere for her with the intention of murdering her. Symrna begged to the gods and Zeus took pity on her, turning Smyrna into a myrtle tree to save her from this terrible situation. (Incidently, the name of the Turkish city of Izmir comes from Smyrna). After nine months, the princess, who was pregnant when she was transformed into a tree, gave birth to her son Adonis by ripping apart the trunk of tree. The goodness Aphrodite found this beautiful baby on the trunk of the tree and took care of the child, taking him to live with her.

The Legend of St. Mamas

St. Mamas was a priest who was born in Cyprus and gave his name to the Church in Guzelyurt. He was reowned for having ridden a lion while holding a lamb on his lap. Once upon a time Mamas was living in a cave in this region. According to a mandate, everyone was forced to pay taxes. However, Mamas refused to pay taxes saying that since he was living in a cave, he didn’t enjoy any of government’s facilities. As a result of this speech, he was arrested. On his journey to Nicosia, a lion jumped into the road whilst chasing a lamb. As Mamas raised his hand, suddenly, lion paused. Mamas picked up the lamb and mounted the lion, riding on its back until he reached the throne room of the duke who proposed the tax rule. The duke was so shocked that he agreed to waive Mamas’s payment.

The Legend of the Olive Tree

In the past, the wealth of people was measured by the number of olive trees that they owned. Weddings were only scheduled after the harvest of the olives in Templos, today’s Zeytinlik Village.The olive tree is a sacred tree which had economic, cultural and spiritual value. The sanctity of the olive tree is believed to be based on a legend about Jesus Christ. It was said that Jesus hid on top of an olive tree while he was trying to escape from his enemies and after the enemies went by, he said this prayer “live 100 years more than the person who cultivated you; give plentiful fruit, be a tree which gives fruit and oil and makes your owner rich”. The olive tree asked: “what will happen if they cut and burn me?”. He replied: “the smoke which comes from your wood and leaves will protect you from devilry and envy”. Today, for the people of Cyprus, as for the Zeytinlik Villagers, the olive leaf has a sacred meaning offering protection from evil.

The Legend of Five Finger Mountains

There was a very beautiful girl who lived in a village in the range of the mountains which form a backdrop to today’s Kyrenia. There happened to be two young men who loved this girl. One of them was a good-hearted person and the other one was not. They had a bet as to who would win the girl and they decided to have a deul and that it should take a place on the edge of a marsh in Meserya. The malevolent youth made a crafty plan to overcome the good-hearted one. He wounded the good man by pulling him to the marsh. The good-hearted youth gradually started to sonk in the marshy ares while he was trying to push himself up out of the mud. He raised his sworn with a final effort, and as the sword slipped from his grasp, he was buried with five finger open to sky. In time the marshy area dried out and the good-hearted youth’s hand turned into mountains resembling his five fingers.

The Nursing Rock On The Top Of The Fortifications of Famagusta

There is a location on the fortifications of Famagusta where a white liquid flows like milk. The people of Famagusta think that it has a specific and extraordinary power. Women, who have just given birth who have difficulty in breast-feeding come to this place to make a wish. It is also visited by women who want to have children, who come to touch the rock.

The Legend of Canbulat Pasha

The Venetians had placed a rotating wheel with knives around it at the gate of the harbour to cut every invading soldier in half. Canbulat Bey was fed up of the siege as it was taking so long and rode his horse towards the wheel. He was decapitated and then replaced his head and he continued to fight. After the conquest of the war, he lay down in peace and died a martyr.

The Legend of St. Barnabas

St. Barnabas was born in Salamis as a Jewish person and Jesus Christ during one of his journeys to Palestine. He came to Cyprus 46 years after the death of Jesus Christ. He was killed by the jewish people when he attempted to go to Salamis to spread Christianity. His corpse was hidden in a marshy area from which they planned to throw it in to the sea. The followers of St. Barnabas found out what had happened and they buried his corpse in a cave to the west of Salamis. They put a copy of the Bible, written by St. Matthew, with him. The place of the grave was not known and was kept in a secret. 432 years after his death, the bishop Anthemios says that he saw  the grave in his dream, identified its location and asked for it to be opened. When the people opened the grave in his dream, the Bible was found and the grave was easily identified as the grave of St. Barnabas. In Ad 477, the monastery was built on the site of that grave. It is one of the most important religious places for Greek Orthodox Cypriots.

The Legend of Fire Rock

A villager who always complained about God, blamed God for the bad harvest season. The shepherds meeting around the rock of fire after releasing their animals to herd them into the Mountains of Five Finger, heard him complaining and said to the farmer that he should go to the rock of fire and make his complaints directly to God there. The farmer, who always blamed God for every negative event in his life, climbed to the top of the mountain. He raised his hands an began to shout at God like a mad man. At the moment he was hit by a lightening bolt and turned into stone. If you visit the rock of fire which shines very brightly during sunset, you will see that it definitely looks like a human silhouette.

The Legend of Phoenix

There is a big stone in the Ciklos region, which looks like a huge half-divided egg which is known locally as the Soil Stone or Egg Stone. According to the legend, the Ciklos region of Kyrenia is the nest of the phoenix and after the death of his mate, he protected his last egg. He sat on the egg day after during incubation. However, because he got hungry he left the egg to find food. During that time the egg was about the hatch. When the infant moved, the egg over-balanced towards the ground and the crows ate the newly-hatched phoenix, and the race became extinct. It is said that the crows always circle on the top of that rock because they have not forgotten the taste of that creature.