The Green Line in Cyprus

The Early History of Cyprus

Some information concerning the early history of Cyprus is necessary to understand how two major ethnic communities came to be settled on the island.
The images are intended to give a flavour of the time period.

1200 BC:

The Greek presence in Cyprus dates from the arrival of the Mycenaeans from the Greek Peloponnese in around 1200BC.
From this time, Cyprus became more Greek and westward-looking in its language and culture.


Cyprus becomes a Roman province.
Many fine temples and theatres are built.
Pafos was the capital of the island for most of the Roman period.


Cyprus becomes part of the  Byzantine Empire.
This period is remembered for its churches and wall paintings.
Towards the end of this period, three mountain forts were built......St. Hilarion, Buffavento, and Kantara.



Following a brief rule by Richard the Lionheart, Cyprus was sold to the French Lusignans.
The gothic Cathedral of Saint Sophia is built.
The three Byzantine mountain forts are extended.


Cyprus became an overseas colony of the Venetian Republic.
Technically advanced walled defences protect Famagusta, Nicosia and Kyrenia.
The island is continually attacked by the Ottomans.


Following earlier attacks and sieges, Cyprus became a part of the Ottoman Empire.
Greeks on the island join with the remaining Venetians to fight the Ottomans.
The gothic Cathedral of Saint Sophia is converted to a mosque.
The twelve Generals of the conquering Ottoman army are each given a neighbourhood of Nicosia to control.
The first Turkish settlers arrive and by 1640 one quarter of the estimated population of 120,000 are Turkish.