By Chris Elliott
Having been to Lefke on one occasion to do research for an article, I decided to return to find out more about this fascinating town.
Driving along the coast road from Guzelyurt, you pass by some of the remains of the CMC diggings on the left hand side and you cross a bridge as you enter the village of Gemikonagi and opposite the Alpet garage you will see the turning on the left to Lefke.
Turning here the road has bungalows on both sides as you drive towards Lefke up the rising road which twists and winds with many fascinating views of the mountains and housing complexes. Soon you will see a yellow train on the left hand side which is a relic of the old CMC mining operation and as you approach a roundabout you will see a children’s playground and also the memorial gardens which you can explore, where there is a statue of Ataturk on a horse.
Go straight ahead over the roundabout and the road continues to twist and wind and rise in front of you as you reach the town and then the road straightens and continues to rise as you go past many fascinating buildings including the old battle-scarred Hotel Vasif Palas on the right hand side and further along on the left hand side you will see a number of buildings which are being restored and renovated with funding from the European Union
We are now passing the Police Station and Post Office on the right hand side and you will then come to a crossroad clearly sign-posted. Turn right here and park your car in a safe area near the bus stop and the school opposite. It was here that I came with Tamer Dayioglu to see the village of Karadag when I was researching for an article by Ismet Üstüner but more of that later. From here you will now follow me on a walk round the town.
Go back to the junction and almost opposite is the entrance to a small circular road and you should turn left into this and walk down until you reach the Pir Pasa Mosque, which is the resting place of Piri Osman Pasa who died in 1839. His Ottoman styled marble tomb is blackened in places and said to be by the smoke of candles lit by local women as they ask a favour from this local saint.
I returned to the junction and turned right, I was fascinated to hear the sound of rushing water and on investigating on the left hand side of the road I found a culvert down which water was rushing into the town. Walking on I soon came to the Post Office next to the Police Station where I had first been introduced to Tamer Dayioglu. Wanting to see the local historical features, I looked at the the old colonial letterbox, now painted yellow, mounted in the garden retaining wall by the Post Office car park.
Walking on further, on the left, I was able to take fresh photos of the monument which celebrated the Coronation of King George VI. See slide show for pictures.
I also passed again on the right hand side of the road a number of buildings which are being restored and preserved with funding from the European Union and it was fascinating to see how the original features were being blended with more modern developments.
Just past here and opposite the Hotel Vasif Palas, I turned right into an area I had walked through on another visit and walked on past another garage into the old Turkish Quarter where I came to the Lefke Orta Mosque which is on the right and turning left here, I walked down past the Lefke Cultural Centre on the right before coming to the Lefke Gardens Hotel which is on the right. Turning right now into the side road there is a mixture of old and very stylish buildings before you turn right again and then you arrive at the restored stone Ottoman Aqueduct which was restored with support from Turkey in 2007.
Turning left and walking past the aqueduct you walk down the road which twists and turns and at a junction you turn left again and walk along past many more interesting houses and lush orange and lemon groves before you come to another junction where you turn left with a water tank on the opposite side of the road and after a short walk turn, left again before you turn right by the retaining garden wall of a house which is covered with glazed tiles.
Walking ahead I could see people gathering at the end of the road and I approached the home of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Order spiritual leader, Muhammad Nazim Adil al- Qubrusi al-Haqqani who was born in Larnaca in 1922 and has lived here, I understand, for over 50 years. As I arrived I was greeted by so many of his followers and was ushered by them into the shop and mosque and garden area to take many pictures that you can see in the slideshow below. There was a large gathering of people outside his house and they asked me to stay to hopefully see and take pictures of their leader when he came out for his daily car outing.
After waiting for some while the congregation began to sing and then the doors opened and out came the great man helped by his attendants into a car for one of his visits to look at the sea. Walking away from here so many people greeted me and asked me where I was from and sending me on my way with blessings for peace and a good life. Very soon I arrived at the end of the road where I turned right by the Mosque with 3 large Cypress trees in the grounds,
Walking on I arrived at a main road and turned right and continued down to and passed over a bridge that spanned a dried up riverbed and ahead I could see some ruined churches before the road led me up an incline with a large fascinating house of the left. Continuing on this road there were spectacular views of the surroundings and the village and it was with a great sense of appreciation that I reached the Cafe Natural on the left where I was greeted by the owner, Sevcan and a customer Salih, who showed me some of the tremendous views and also showed me the location of the previous Palm View Cafe which I understand now has reverted back to a private house.
Having had refreshments at Café Natural and bought some locally grown produce to take away, we continue with our walk and turn right at the next junction next to a school, and walk on down the road to cross a bridge over the river bed and after an uphill walk arrive back at the school and bus stop where we parked our car.
Do follow our pages for news of another walk that will be published soon. For those readers that like to walk, there is a walkers guide book available in some of our local shops called “Walks in North Cyprus”.
Editors Note: We regret that due to circumstances beyond our control, we could not bring you the article we had planned but feel sure our readers will enjoy reading about our experiences with pictures of our walk around Lefke town.
Our readers may also like to read Ismet Üstüner’s historical article with many current day pictures of Lefke “July 1974, War and imprisonment at Lefke” click here