Heaven Alongside The Mountain
Lapta is a beautiful Mediterranean village with an unrivalled view amongst the greenery to the north of Selvili Tepe, the highest hill of the Five Finger Mountains.
Lapta is located 9km from Kyrenia and was once one of the most significant cities on the island. This city, previously named as Lapithos or Laphetos, was the capital of one of the nine kingdoms into which Cyprus was divided.
The famous ancient historian Homer wrote that the Akarnanes established Lapithos after returning from the Trojan War in 1200 B.C. along with the cities of Salamis and Paphos.
However, a historian from Kapadocia Strabon wrote that it was established around the same time but by the Laconian king Praxander.
There is also an alternative opinion that differs from both of these in terms of its founders and the time frame. According to this belief, Lapithos was established in the 8th Century B.C. by the king of Tir Belrus as a colony of Phoenix.
The Shining City of Lambusa
Lapithos was relocated to the seaside during the Byzantine period and became the centre for one of the 14 bishops.
The city's golden era was during this period whilst it was named Lambusa, meaning 'shining'. Lambusa dazzled in its riches and became famous in the region, drawing attention from the Arabs and being exposed to attacks.
According to a rumour, Lambusa's inhabitants, surrounded by Arabs in A.D. 654, offered to surrender, leaving all their treasure and valuable items. In the event that they accepted this offer, they were to be allowed to leave the city freely.
However, most of the people of Lambusa chose to hide their valuables inside the walls and underneath their houses rather than handing them over to the Arabs. Their aim was to come back to the city when the Arab occupation ended and regain the hidden treasure.
Unfortunately, they were never able to return and fulfill their aim because the city became an Arabian sovereignty. When Cyprus was liberated from the Arabs in A.D. 965, Lapithos's refugees returned to their homeland to rebuild their town, but in a new location at the foot of the Five Finger Mountains.
Some sources state that the population of Lapithos reached over 10,000 during the period of the Roman Empire, when it was one of the four districts of Cyprus.
During the Lusignan period of sovereignty, Lambusa continued its existence as a property known as Le field de la Pison, a name believed to be a derived from a Latin rendering of Lapithos.
The second fateful event of Lambusa occurred during the rule of the Lusignans. The Lambusan People who had left this place immigrated to the area where Lapithos was first established, a place that was rebuilt and which today is called Lapta or Lapithos.
The Treasure of Lambusa
In the late 18th century, people from Lapithos established the village of Karava (now called Alsancak) at the original site of the city of Lambusa.
The once shining city of Lambusa had turned to ruins over time and today's remnants consist mainly of stones. Significantly, though, these stones were used in the establishment of Lapta and Karava.
Meanwhile, many people went in pursuit of the treasure supposedly hidden in the in the houses when people left Lambusa for the first time. People rushed to the city, destroying houses in their search. Some of them eventually found some of the treasure.
This valuable treasure of Lambusa, consisting of gold and silver vessels, dishes, and jewelry, was first discovered in 1902, and more was found in 1917.
Much of the gold and silver was smuggled abroad and today some of it can be found in Nicosia Museum in Cyprus, The British Museum in London, The Metropolitan Museum of New York and The Dumbarton Oals Collection in Washington.
A Holiday With History
During Cyprus' Ottoman rule, Lapta's significance was preserved for it was a small town consisting of 9 districts where Turkish and Greek Cypriots lived together. Evidence of this is visible in the many churches and historical artifacts from the area.
During the Ottoman rule in the 19th Century new churches were built, examples of which being those of Ayia Anastasia, St.Luke, St.John the Baptist (Yahya), St. Theodoros, St. Paraskevi and St.Minas.
St Luke's church captures your attention with its columns in the garden having been decorated in the Corinthian style. The columns were supposedly brought over from Lambusa.
The icons on St. John's Church date back to 1793 and are worth seeing, as is the clumsy, ugly structure of St. Paraskevsky Church and the grape leaf motifs on Ayia Anastasia Church
Ayia Anastasia Church was built on a large rock outcropping overlooking the village of Lapta. The church has since been converted for use as a resort hotel. Lapta itself is host to 1/7 of the tourists who visit Northern Cyprus.
Lapta, with the aroma of orange, lemon and lime flowers engulfing its steep, narrow streets, combines with abundant oxygen and becomes even more beatiful when these flowers transform into fruits.
It is a special pleasure gained from gazing at the expansive blueness of the Mediterranean through different shades of green whilst strolling through these streets.
In Lapta, Northern Cyprus' seventh largest municipality, it is also possible to observe some of the most interesting handcrafted items on the island. Decorative hand-painted marrows (gourds), wooden spoons and specially embroidered materials labelled Made in Lapta will grab your attention.
The rich motifs embroidered with a needle and thread were once impossible to prevent from being used in the decorations of all types of clothing, and were seen on almost every dress, handkerchief, headscarf and jacket sleeve.
Nowadays, Lapta-Made shirts, t-shirts and dresses are still extremely attractive items for those who are interested in handcrafts and authentic clothing. Besides, it is also possible to use many of these as decorations in numerous ways.
With its sea-wiers, forests, orange and lemon gardens, narrow streets with plentiful flowers, historical places, comfortable holiday resorts, handcrafts, and cheerful people, Lapta is one of the special holiday regions of the Mediterranean at the foot of the Five Finger Mountains and is waiting for you.
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