Beyond Dipkarpaz there’s a real feeling that you’re approaching the edge of the world. This is a land of wild donkeys, open country, isolated beaches and wild geological formations. Along the north coast are the ruins of Aphendrika, one of the largest cities of Ptolemaic Cyprus, marked now only by the ruins of three later churches – Panagia Chrysiotissa, Agios Georgios and Panagia Asomatos. Along the south coast is one of the finest beaches on the island – Nangomi, or Golden Sands Beach. Backed by substantial dunes, the beach is some 6km long, with a hill at the end of the western promontory, and consists of fine sand and shallow pellucid water, with access down several paths at different points from the road. Besides being a fine bathing beach, Nangomi is also a sea turtle nesting site where the security of the eggs are ensured by particularly aggressive sand flies. It is also, as is the whole tip of the peninsula, a protected area.
Apostolos Andreas Monastery
A couple of kilometres beyond Galounopetra Point, at the eastern end of Golden Sands Beach, is one of Cyprus’s greatest pilgrimage destinations, the monastery of St Andrew. A kind of Cypriot Lourdes, its reputation for miracles comes from the tale of the Apostle Andrew who is said to have run aground here on his way to Palestine. St Andrew went ashore, the story goes, struck a rock with his rod, causing spring water to gush out. The ship’s captain was blind (perhaps why the ship ran aground), but bathing his eyes in the spring water cured him. A chapel was built on the spot in the fifteenth century followed by a church in the eighteenth century and the monastery buildings in the nineteenth.
The monastery’s miraculous reputation was boosted in 1895 by the story of Anatolian Greek Maria Georgiou, whose son had disappeared seventeen years earlier. She was told in a dream to visit the monastery to pray for her son’s return. On the boat over she told her story to a young dervish, who asked how she would identify her son after all this time. She said that he had distinctive birthmarks on his shoulder and chest, at which point he threw his cloak back to reveal identical marks, prompting a tearful reunion (and, of course the reversion of the son to the Orthodox faith).
The monastery was the site of frenetic mass pilgrimages on the saint’s name days, August 15 and November 30, until the events of 1974 caused its closure. Since the opening of the Green Line in 2003 it has been growing in popularity again, not only with the religious, but also as a general tourist attraction. There’s a huge plaza surrounded by lodgings and stalls selling souvenirs and religious items. Towards the sea the dilapidated monastery buildings surround the church, which is topped by a bell tower. Inside, in addition to the usual icons, are numerous votive offerings. From the church, steps lead down to the chapel and the holy well. UN money has been granted for the refurbishment of the monastery, though there’s not much to show for it so far. As with many monastery buildings in Cyprus, the whole place is overrun by cats.
Zafer Burnu (Cape Apostolos Andreas)
A further 4km from the monastery brings you to Zafer Burnu (Cape Apostolos Andreas), which has a rocky shore and a small archipelago offshore – the Kleides (“Keys”) Islands. A rock, hollowed out by caves and bearing Turkish and TRNC flags, marks Cyprus’s northernmost and easternmost point.