History of Lapta

     West of Girne (Kyrenia), is an attractive small town that is one of the most popular locations in Northern Cyprus. Every corner of Lapta is covered in lemon and orange groves, and other types of fruit orchards. The city (designated a city in ancient times) of Lapta is very fortunate because it has its own source of water. It lies at the base of the mountains and many stories have been put forward as to the origins of Lapta. They are all based on historical facts. According to rumours, the first residents of Lapta were migrants who arrived in 1300BC. Another story concerning its origins is that it was established as a Phoenician colony in 800BC.
     Lapta began to become an important and wealthy city, around 800 BC, when the Phoenicians who dominated trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, became its leaders. Lapta reached its height of importance during the Roman and Byzantine rule. At this time, and because of the amount of wealth it had amassed, the city was renamed ‘Lambousa’ which means brilliant. Towards the end of the Roman era and during the early Christian and Byzantine periods, the city of Lambousa shifted its location to the coastline where it became a settlement renowned for its wealth. A number of buildings for general public use, such as gymnasiums and theatres were built in the city. Lambousa remained an important city until the start of Arab incursions of 700 AD.
     Due to Lapta’s (which is the current name for the city) reputation as a city of immense wealth, the Arabs, who began their attacks in 654 AD, besieged Lambousa. They demanded that members of the community surrender with all their belongings and jewels, and in return they promised to let them leave the city free of harm and to settle in any other part of Cyprus. Archaeological excavations early in the last century suggest that most of the people in Lambousa had preferred to bury their valuable belongings and jewels, or hide them inside the walls or ceilings of their homes rather than surrender them to the Arabs. During the Lusignan era and up until the Ottoman period, the people of Lambousa who had abandoned the city established Lapta. In the 1800’s the people who originated from Lambousa and who lived in Lapta established Karava (Kyrenia in English but now locally known as Girne). The remnants of Lambousa functioned as a source of stone for the two new cities and thus today there is little left of the ancient city.