Entertainment

A visit to Akıncılar, North Cyprus

A visit to Akıncılar

By Margaret Sheard

This article has been revised (6th August 2013)  to give the Russian translation which follows the English version.

At the end of the Umut Orchestra concert at Bellapais Abbey, we were invited by Raziye Kocaismail, the Founder of Help Those with Cancer Association (Tulips), to visit her family village the following day where one day a year the village is open to visitors.

The village where Raziye was born is Akıncılar and we learned that it is the most southerly point of North Cyprus and it hangs like a Village streetteardrop on the map. The only access is through a Turkish Army base so we were very interested in seeing and learning more about this very remote village.

The following day we followed the directions we had been given and found ourselves at the military checkpoint where we were asked to “pull over”. Oh dear we thought, what happens now! With our limited Turkish we tried to explain that we had been invited but it seemed that foreigners were not allowed past the checkpoint. Luckily Chris had a telephone call from a Cypriot friend and he spoke with the military people for us. After disappearing into their office, they then came out smiling and, handing back our passports, they waved us on with beaming smiles and handshakes.  We later learned that our names had been submitted and no doubt they realised that we were on the list, we didn’t understand the procedure so were at a loss to try and explain.

We then proceeded for miles through Many stalls at the festivaluninhabited countryside with the occasional soldier on duty, it was quite a strange feeling to be travelling through what was basically a Turkish military area. We passed through what was previously a small village which comprised of a few crumbling shells of houses, the villagers long gone to new areas and it was quite a sad experience to see.

Eventually, after what seemed like miles and miles of pleasant open countryside, we eventually came to the village of Akıncılar. We parked just outside the village as we could see there were many cars parked. We chose a spot in front of a very nice bungalow and the owner even came out and moved his car to give a bit more room, with the greeting “hoș geldiniz, welcome to our village”, so we did indeed feel very welcome right from the moment we arrived.

We wandered along to the main village street where there were stalls as far as you could see selling all sorts of foodstuffs, clothes, Food preparationjewellery, village bread, honey and much more. After walking around and soaking up the atmosphere we eventually found Raziye at a local eating house where we also found Carole and Sue, who do so much work for Tulips, with their husbands.

We were told that Akıncılar was once a very large Turkish Cypriot village with over 3,000 inhabitants but unfortunately as a result of the troubles in Cyprus, many have left and there is now a population of  around only 300. It is very sad to see that many of the ancient previously inhabited houses are now falling into ruin as the families are no longer in the village.

During the afternoon I went to see the house wheFront of family shopre Raziye was born and immediately called Chris to come and take some photographs. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the property is inside with most of the original furniture and bedding, it was like a small museum. The front property is where Raziye’s grandparents and mother and father had their grocery shop and at the rear through a small courtyard was their house.

We spoke to quite a few people who were there that day who were actually born in the village, one of these was Ozzie who said he was a Raziye's family homerelative of Raziye and most of the extended family were shopkeepers of some kind.

We spent quite a few hours looking around and enjoying the festival and eventually thought we had better make our way back. We were getting a little low on petrol and as the only petrol station in the village had been taken over by the entertainment, we had to hope we would not break down in the middle of an army base on the way back. Luckily we made it back to the main road and were able to fill up the car and start our journey home.

What a wonderful day this was, it was almost like going back in time and a bit like being in another world, but what a marvellous experience to be able to visit this virtually unknown village and meet such friendly and welcoming people. We hope one day we may be invited back again. when it would be so nice to see the village as it probably is for most of the year, a quiet sleepy village getting on with its daily life.

Following the first publication of this article we were asked by Cypriada, a 2-monthly magazine, if they could include it in their July/August edition and we were happy to agree to this.  Cypriada have kindly sent the Russian version of the text to us and this is shown below for the benefit of our Russian readers.

Деревня Акинджилар – жизнь за “пограничной полосой”

Маргарет Шэард

После выступления оркестра под руководством Умута в аббатстве Беллапаис, Разье Кочаисмаил (Raziye Kocaismail), основательница ассоциации помощи больным раком «Tulips», пригласила нас в гости в свою деревню на следующий день. Эта деревня всего один день в году открыта для посетителей.

Деревня, в которой родилась Разье, называется Акинджилар (Akıncılar) и находится она в самой южной точке Северного Кипра, образуя своеобразный «аппендикс» на карте пограничных территорий. Единственный доступ туда – через турецкую военную базу, поэтому, мы были очень заинтересованы в том, чтобы узнать больше об этой самой удаленной деревне.

Мы выехали на следующий день и, руководствуясь данными нам инструкциями, вскоре оказались на военном контрольно-пропускном пункте, где нас попросили “съехать на обочину”. Боже мой, думали мы, что же сейчас будет! На скудном турецком мы пытались объяснить, что мы были приглашены и нас ждут. Создалось впечатление, что иностранцам въезд все-таки запрещен. К счастью Крису позвонил его кипрской друг, и тот смог объясниться с военными за нас. После телефонного разговора военные исчезли в офисе, а когда вышли, улыбаясь вернули обратно наши паспорта и попрощались крепкими рукопожатиями. Позже мы узнали, что наши имена были в списке приглашенных, несомненно, они это поняли, но, не зная толком процедуру пропуска, мы были в сильном замешательстве, чтобы попытаться хоть что-то объяснить.

Затем мы проехали еще много километров через пустынные местности, встречая только случайных солдат на посту. Довольно странное чувство охватывало нас от путешествия через турецкую военную область. Мы проехали через то, что ранее было деревней. От нее осталось лишь несколько разрушенных домов. Жители давно переехали в новые районы. Смотреть на это было печально.

Наконец, после длительного но приятного путешествия по открытой равнине, мы оказались в деревне Акинджилар. Остановившись около самой деревни, мы не могли не заметить множество припаркованных автомобилей. Мы выбрали место перед очень красивым бунгало, и даже сам владелец, с приветствием: “Hoş geldiniz, добро пожаловать в нашу деревню”, вышел, чтобы переставить свой автомобиль и освободить для нас немного пространства. Так что мы ощутили гостеприимство этого места с самого первого момента прибытия.

Мы пошли вдоль главной улицы, где раскинулись длинные ряды торговых палаток, предлагая все виды продуктов питания, одежду, ювелирные изделия, деревенский хлеб, мед и многое другое. Прогулявшись по деревне и впитав ее атмосферу, мы в конечном счете остановились в местном кафе, где и нашли Разье. Там же мы встретились с Кэрол и Сью, которые, вместе со своими мужьями, много помогают ассоциации «Tulips».

Нам рассказали, что Акинджилар когда-то была очень большой деревней, населенной турками-киприотами и насчитывала более 3000 жителей. К сожалению, в результате военных конфликтов на Кипре, многие уехали, и в настоящее время здесь проживает всего около 300 человек. Очень грустно видеть, как многие старые, ранее жилые дома разрушаются, так как многие семьи покинули деревню.

После обеда я отправилась к дому, где родилась Разье и попросила Криса, пойти со мной и сделать несколько фотографий. Я не могла поверить, как красиво и уютно было внутри дома. Оригинальная мебель и постельные принадлежности – все это было похоже на небольшой музей. Переднюю часть дома занимал продуктовый магазин, который содержали бабушка и дедушка Разье и ее родители, а сзади, через небольшой двор, был их дом.

Нам удалось поговорить со многими людьми, из тех, кто пришел в тот день. Почти все они были родом из этой деревни. Одного из них звали Оззи, который оказался родственником Разье. Он сообщил нам о том, что большая часть его семьи была занята в торговле.

Мы много времени провели, наслаждаясь фестивалем и глазея по сторонам. Наконец пришло время ехать обратно. Поскольку бензина у нас оставалось совсем мало, а единственная заправка в деревне была закрыта во время фестиваля, нам оставалось только надеяться, что мы не остановимся посреди военной базы на обратном пути. К счастью, мы добрались до главной дороги и смогли заправить машину, теперь мы спокойно можем ехать домой.

Какой прекрасный был день. Мы все равно что побывали в прошлом и вернулись в другой мир. Приятно было получить возможность посетить эту практически неизвестную деревню, где живут такие доброжелательные и радушные люди. Мы надеемся, что в один прекрасный день, нам предложат вернуться туда снова, чтобы увидеть деревню, в ее привычной повседневной жизни, такой, какой она бывает в течение всего года: тихой, сонной, занятой своими делами.

Дополнительные фото и видео можно найти здесь: http://cyprusscene.com/2013/05/09/20274/

18 replies »

  1. Very much how the whole of Cyprus was when i first visited in 1965.
    i wish it was like it now….

    • Thank you for your comment, I agree with you that change is not always for the better.

  2. This article has had so many readings and video plays and we have also received many messages including the following from May Husseyin from London via a Facebook link.

    Chris, the village I was born in and visit to see my grandparents graves. I too really enjoy the drive through to the village, and if my mum is with me she always tells me stories of when she was young and about the people who lived in the deserted villages we pass.

  3. Well done Margaret, on a great article and video of our beautiful village, my parents were both born in the village, they married and left for England nearly 60years ago. You have a given us a glimpse of days gone by of how our village was a bustling heart of a great community….. Also I like to say how proud I am of my Yenge (aunty) Raziye of the great work she does so passionately!! for the “Kanser Hastalarina Yardim Dernegi) Tulips.

    • Thank you for your comment, I am glad you enjoyed the article and video. We felt very privileged to be able to see your lovely village and must thank your Yenge Raziye for inviting us.

  4. Fantastic, what a great article from the both of you!
    We are honoured to be some of the few foreigners allowed in to witness what a lovely place this is.
    Sue and Paul

    • We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and yes what a privilege it was, so really enjoyed writing about it.

  5. Have posted this to the great facebook group “ah . Lurucina Guru” which is all about the village Akincilar, also known as Lurucina.

  6. I spent 6 months in Louroujina (now Akincilar) we were a platoon of Irish Soldiers serving with the United Nations in 1970/71.We used to a little bar there, Suleymans, i think it is still there, I plan to visit there soon again.

  7. We would love to visit this village – is there a contact we have to go through – I presume we just dont drive in?

    • Yes you are right, you cannot just drive in as it is in military controlled area. There are visits arranged by Tulips (Help Those with Cancer Association) and I would suggest you contact Carole King at tulipscarole@yahoo.com if you would like to arrange to visit Akincilar. I am sure you will find it fascinating.

  8. Im a Greek Cypriot and I tried to visit the village in December. Unfortunately the army did not let us though, although that is not surprising as they probably have their suspicions concerning Greek Cypriots passing though their military base. Its unfortunate that the village ended up being so isolated after 74.
    I had heard a road was being built outside the military base so that civilians could travel back and forth without having to drive through the army base and being checked by the military in the process. Does anyone have any information on that?

    Thank you for the post and the effort you have put in this blog. There is no information on many places of Northern Cyprus in English, making this blog an essential dource of information.

    • Thank you very much for your kind and appreciate comment and next time you are here, try driving eastward away from Ercan and instead of turning right to Timbu (Turkish Army village) go straight ahead and then you will fimd another road on the right.

      When we were in the area around 5 weeks ago this gravel road was blocked with mounds of earth and waiting for tarmac to be laid.

      Will the road be controlled? We do not know but Lurucina is a great place to go and we have been there a number of times to make videos and attend festivals.