The Güzelyurt Bay area is oddly off the beaten track as far as tourism is concerned and yet, in its own way, it’s as interesting as any other part of North Cyprus. The traveller here, though, may just need to be a little more intrepid in order to seek out the often hidden gems that it possesses.
This is a corner of the island untouched by mass market tourism and there are no large hotels in the region. Its largest town, Güzelyurt, is a sleepy market town with seemingly little, apart from its museum, to attract the visitor. For many though, this is a large part of the charm and attraction of the area. There is none of the aridity, noticeable in much of Cyprus:-the whole area benefits from the abundant run-off of water from the Troodos Mountains and as such is lush, green and agriculturally, very productive.
The economy of the area, then, depends more on agriculture than tourism, and this is the main citrus and strawberry growing area of Cyprus. The seemingly endless rows of citrus groves in the flatter plains of the bay area bathe the air with the scent of citrus blossom. Both Lefke and Güzelyurt celebrate their vital economic and cultural ties to citrus with yearly festivals; the Lefke Jaffa Orange Festival in May and the Güzelyurt Orange Festival in June. The bustling Saturday market at Güzelyurt is the perfect place to see the abundance that this area provides. Apart from the citrus, producers bring their freshly harvested and, often organic, dates, walnuts, apricots, pomegranates and so much more.
The bay area is also rich in historical sites, though it is true to say that there is a lot more digging required. Many of the sites are only partially excavated such as the Bronze Age sites of Toumba Tou Skouru and the Pighades Sanctuary, and it is believed that there is much yet to uncover. One extremely impressive site, though is Soli, overlooking the small port village of Gemikonağı near Lefke. This was one of the ten ancient kingdoms of Cyprus. The mosaics here are quite stunning. A fifteen minute long but nonetheless dizzying drive takes you up to the eagle’s eyrie that is Vouni Palace. There’s not a great deal to see here but the views along the coastline to the north and the Troodos Mountains to the south are extremely beautiful and perhaps answer the inevitable question: just why would you build a palace up here?
The somewhat quirky Güzelyurt Archeological and Natural History Museum is an interesting diversion. Downstairs it displays natural history exhibits, including its strange mutant lambs, but the upper floor has some genuinely unexpected wonders, noticeably the “Golden Treasure of Soli,” only discovered in 2005. The degree of craftsmanship in the delicate gold ornaments is a sight to behold and they fully justify a visit to Güzelyurt on their own. Many of the finds from Toumba Tou Skouru and the Pighades Sanctuary can also be seen here.