1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Famagusta

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FAMAGUSTA (Gr. Ammochostos), a town and harbour on the east cost of Cyprus, 2½ m. S. of the ruins of Salamis. The population in 1901 was 818, nearly 'all being Moslems who live within the walls of the fortress; the Christian population has migrated to a suburb called Varosia (pop. 2948). The foundation of Salamis (q.v.) was ascribed to Teucer: it was probably the most important town in early Cyprus. The revolt of the Jews under Trajan, and earthquakes in the time of Constantius and Constantine the Great helped in turn to destroy it. It was restored by Fl. Constantius II. (A.D. 337-361) as Constantia. Another town a little to the south, built by Ptolemy Philadelphus in 274 B.C., and called Arsinoe in honour of his sister, received the refugees driven from Constantia by the Arabs under Mu‛awiyah, became the seat of the orthodox archbishopric, and was eventually known as Famagusta. It received a large accession of population at the fall of Acre in 1291; was annexed by the Genoese in 1376; reunited to the throne of Cyprus in 1464; and surrendered, after an investment of nearly a year, to the Turks in 1571. The fortifications, remodelled by the Venetians after 1489, the castle, the grand cathedral church of St Nicolas, and the remains of the palace and many other churches make Famagusta a place of unique interest. Acts ii. and v. of Shakespeare's Othello pass there. In 1903 measures were taken to develop the fine natural harbour of Famagusta. Basins were dredged to give depths of 15 and 24 ft. respectively at ordinary low tides, and commodious jetties and quays were constructed.