Esentepe, my village
overlooking the sea
By Graham Brown
Esentepe is just one of the many charming Mediterranean villages of Northern Cyprus. It has grown over the past few years to become a village of some note because many visitors to the area have sought to establish their own homes in Esentepe.
This does not detract from the idyllic coastal retreat that nestles at the foot of the Kyrenia mountain range; rather the development that has come to Esentepe has raised its profile and desirability instead of taking away its rural charm.
Literally translated Esentepe means windy hill! But the town is not so much windy as cooled by the breeze that rises from the Mediterranean that is spread out before it. This breeze comes as the heat of the summer sun intensifies and ensures the residents of the village are protected from the searing heat naturally.
The village has a primary and secondary school, a doctor’s surgery and police station and it is also home to a small selection of shops selling all the essential items…but apart from these amenities the village is mainly home to an eclectic mix of friendly and welcoming Turkish Cypriots and European settlers who have realised their dream of the perfect place in the sun by setting up home in Esentepe.
As you drive up the winding road into the village you will be struck by the stunning views the residents enjoy. Before them is the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, fringed by the lovely sandy Esentepe beach, and behind them are the pine covered foothills of the Kyrenia mountain range.
With Esentepe as your base you can swim in the sea, laze on the beach, enjoy lunch at one of the village restaurants before wandering up the meandering paths into the forests and up the hills behind the village. Alternatively you could head a little further along the road to the famous medieval domed Antiphonitis Church. The church dates back to the 12th century and is famous for its shape and style, the architecture and also the ancient frescoes that adorn the pillars, walls and dome. The church is a very rare structure and well worth a visit. To read all about the church on cyprusscene.com and see a video click here
If you’re looking to leave the hustle and bustle of Kyrenia behind and you want to venture out further into the real North Cyprus then head east along the coastal road and you’ll come to pretty Esentepe, your gateway to the Karpas region, the coast and the foothills of the Kyrenia range.
WHY WAS THE ESENTEPE VILLAGE ESTABLISHED HERE?
Before the Esentepe (Ayos Amvrosios) people lived in north west of today’s village, situated towards the Karaağaç village, 200 meters ahead of the North Cyprus houses towards Kyrenia, the people were living in the plateau which is on the right hand side. The houses which are located here are underground. These houses are called grave houses (makari). In that period the people who lived there moved to the plateau for various reasons, which now has becomes the Esentepe village. The reason these people moved from this place and formed the Esentepe Village was read in a Greek newspaper and by this article it has spread by rumour till today.
The people who lived in this area built their houses underground in order to hide from the Arabian pirates so they could not be seen from the ocean. One day as the people were celebrating a wedding, the Arabian pirates came along but instead of plundering the place as they had done as usual they said that they had just come to have fun, so they joined the celebration. Even though the people in that area were not very pleased by the situation they could not say a word. Later on, with the affect of alcohol the pirates said that they wanted their leader to go the bridal chamber. The people agreed to this as they feared the pirates but some clever people made the pirates believe that as a part of their culture, the bridal chamber must happen towards sunlight in the morning, so the pirates agreed to wait and they drank until the time came for the bridal chamber.
In the continuing hours opium poppy was put into the drinks of the pirates and people managed to make the pirates fall asleep. As the pirates fell asleep the people surged out of that area and moved to the plateau which is now the Esentepe village. The reason why they have chosen this place was because it was a wide plateau and the people believed that it would have been easier to defend themselves. But the pirates did not attack the people as they thought that the people would have asked for help by the other villages nearby while they were asleep. After waiting for the attack, the people settled on the plateau and the village formed today is Esentepe.
When one looks from the shore of Bahçeli and Karaağac it is quite obvious that this place is hard to see.
To learn more of the people and activities of Esentepe do please click here to visit my website Esentepe Community.