A Trip to Akıncılar
by Horst Gutowski (translated into English by Ralph Kratzer)
Akıncılar is situated in the area south of Ercan Airport. The road into the village is only accessible via a military base of the Turkish army. This is a village far away from any touristic development.
We were already reported that we would be coming with two minibuses and at the checkpoint of the military base we were warmly welcomed by Raziye – Founder of Tulips. Therefore the passage through the military area went smoothly with Raziye – a very nice and competent companion throughout the day – who was born in Akıncılar and still has a family property there which she visits regularly.
The first stop after about 15 minutes was at a small mosque in the direction of Gaziler. This is Kırklar Tűrbesi . The special thing about this place is that there are the remains of a Christian chapel and that in earlier times of peace, Christians and Muslims have prayed side by side, maybe only 5 meters apart from each other.
The journey then took us further and we passed much agriculturally used land until we reached our final destination. Akıncılar – A place that has lost none of its originality. The visitor will not find any new building here, but rather ruins which, with their bullet holes, are a memory of a terrible time a few decades ago. Originally this was a large village with about 3,000 inhabitants, but only 10% of the population have stayed until today.
Many of the residents have renovated their homes with a lot of love and commitment and behind the old walls we could see many “fine pearls”: green gardens with different plants, tastefully furnished apartments, decorated with many antiques from different eras of Cyprus.
The tour through the village took us to the old hospital, which is now operated only once a week by a physician, we passed the old school and the local Municipality, located on a small hill above the village. From here we had a wonderful view of the village and at an Orthodox Church in the neighbouring village of Lympia on the Greek Cypriot side, located just off the motorway to Larnaca.
Very impressive for us was the chat with Raziye about the past, the live of her family who had operated a grocery store and the gas station in the village, until her father´s death, after which her mother continued to look after the businesses.
Fascinating was the lovingly restored old grocery sales room with lots of old memorabilia of the family, eg the old perambulator from Raziye ‘s family in which the children “grew up”, or all the old accounting documents, where you can look up who, when, what was bought and what time it was paid, and a lot of other interesting things as well.
We were able to meet some of the inhabitants of the village, we talked with them and discovered: they are very friendly and warm, despite the memories of the previous clashes, no hate, but rather looking to the future and the desire that all of the families and the community could live together in peace, just as it was on the island for hundreds of years in past times.
With a fantastic “Küp Kebab“ in a small restaurant, our visit ended in this extraordinary location in the middle of Cyprus.
We have taken with us many stunning images and memories of the conversations we had, and we are grateful that, in consultation with Tulips and Raziye, we are able to arrange another visit to Akıncılar for other TFR-members. Who wants to experience Cyprus other than the well known places, far away from tourism, still in its original condition, spectacular mosque and minaret, churches and other buildings? You will not be disappointed with Akıncılar.
To view more pictures of Akıncılar in a slide show – please click here