Search For Individuality: Rural Settlements In Northern Cyprus

Deviren, A. Senem
Cyprus has never been an isolated island. Throughout history it was a meeting place of peoples and states, of cultures and religions. As in all Mediterranean islands, relations between the inside and outside worlds affected the development of settlements in the island. There is a good deal of information about urban settlements of all historical periods; however, one can find very little about rural ones. A Lusignan royal decree, preserved in Greek, refers to settlements as villages, prastijs (small villages), monasteries, vineyard habitations, and isolated homesteads. From Venetian times we have both maps and lists of settlements. The impressive fact emerging from a detailed analysis of Venetian sources is that nearly all present-day settlements date at least from those years (Christodoulou, 1959). Most of the village settlements are not visible or easily discernible from the sea. That is because for many centuries Cypriots have been landsmen, with a land outlook, the sea rarely entering into their lives. So, they built their villages inland. In the highlands, the villages are distant and small; lowland villages are mostly very close to each other and cover larger areas. This is a natural result of topographical conditions and gives a clear picture of the rural landscape in the northern part of the island. This paper is prepared after three months of travel in the northern part of the island in the Spring of 1997. The idea, at the beginning, was to make a study on typological characteristics of the rural settlements in Northern Cyprus. But, during the travel from one village to another, analyzing the typological characteristics and collecting common architectural attributes and values of the rural environment, it was observed that each scene, each village, even each house had its own individual scape which made a unique relation between its architecture and its site. The typological study turned, therefore, to more of a discovery of individual architectonic expressions. In this paper the villages and houses in the Karpas and Mesaria regions are examined and compared in terms of pattern, site, plan, and structure to derive ideas about their typological characteristics. An outstanding village, Dörtyol (Prastion), is introduced with its individual houses in detail to articulate the subject of individuality.


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Citation Formats
A. S. Deviren, “Search For Individuality: Rural Settlements In Northern Cyprus,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 19, no. 1-2, pp. 45–56, 1999, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: