North Cyprus  

The Cathedral Fig Tree in Famagusta

Please click on each image to view larger. Pictures courtesy of ODB

In front of the main entrance to the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St Nicholas Cathedral) is a very old tree of huge size as seen in the picture. It throws magnificent shade over the courtyard, very necessary in those hot days of summer when visitors are streaming into the cathedral. According to the botanists, the tree was planted here when the cathedral was built in 1220 A.D. making it 700 years old.

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (St Nicholas Cathedral)It is a variety of tropical fig tree, with the botanical name of `Ficus Sycomorus', a native of East Africa. The main trunk of the tree is surrounded by smaller trunks which have grown into the main trunk, and give it added support. It appears that they have sprung up from the massive root system. 

An old Turkish-Cypriot who has lived all his life near to the cathedral exclaimed to the writer, `There are seven of these trunks round the main trunk, one for every hundred years'. Obviously, this is just simple folk lore but there are scientific background to this.

Don't be surprised if some time in February the leaves all disappear, giving the illusion that the tree has died. Yet in a month all the leaves are back, covering the whole tree with dense green foliage. The tree is what botanists call, `minimal deciduous'. The tree is listed under the Department of Culture's National Heritage List and is looked after by the Department of Forestry Famagusta Office.

  • W. Dreghorn's "Famagusta and Salamis Guide Book", (1985), Rustem & Bro. Publishing House, London.