Where does "Ammochostos" and "Varosi" come from - Which is correct?

Famagusta, Arsinoe or Varosi - The origin of Famagusta's name according to the author Iago P. Cleopas

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An interesting excerpt from his book entitled "Ammochostos, the Endless History" is published by Yagos P. Kleopas on his profile. regarding the origin of the names "Ammochostos" and "Varosi".

Exact quote as posted by the author:

The name Famagusta existed from the first AD centuries as a site. But also the one buried under the sand in ruins Arsinoe contributed to the naming of the new city. The word ammochostos was a toponym and originally described, as an adjective, the area buried in sand and the ruined and buried Arsinoe: the sandy city. The settlement that developed on or next to the ruins of Arsinoe was referred to with this epithet and gradually received the name Famagusta. In this way her name was given to the city. Famagusta means "city sunk in the sand". Indeed, his city Evagoras it is famous for its sandy beach, which is considered one of the best in the Mediterranean. It is also known as "the city of oranges", thanks to its rich orchards, and as "the city of windmills".

The Franks named her Famagusta, a corruption of Famagusta. They also used similar names, such as Famagusta, Famagusta, Famagusta, Fomagoce. In the excerpts below there are other versions regarding the origin of Famagusta, such as from Fama Augusti, the FamaCostus (Konstas), as well as the Fam in the upcoming years, while Tastes, that is, the sea has its mouth open to suck her in because it likes her!! Even from Fama Costa, famous coast! All of these, historians judge, are wrong. Almost everyone comes to the conclusion that the Famagusta comes from the Greek Famagusta.

The 1573 the Ottomans, by Decree of the Sultan, expelled the Christians from the walled city and forced them to settle in a suburb (varoş, weights) Out of the town. This is how the new city got its name Varosi ή Varosia. The Turks, however, named it Maras (in 1738 Pococke calls it "a village named Merash") which is a village in Turkey and they adopted it in continuation of Suburb, as Hatziioannou concludes. He himself writes it with o (Varossi) and not with o, which, as he says, comes from a wrong etymology, a certain Baron Rossin (see below). The Turks named it the old town Famagusta.

The name Varosi it prevailed during the Ottoman Period and during the British rule to a large extent, since the English used the name in official documents. The townspeople expressed themselves with a clear distinction between the two terms. Famagusta it was for them the old city, inhabited almost exclusively by Turkish Cypriots. While the new city was Varosin ή Varosia. For example, the well-known book of the teacher Michael Koumas is entitled The Old Varosia and The Old Famagusta, 1971, and it is clear from the content that the name Varosia refers to the new city, which was inhabited mainly by Greek Cypriots, as opposed to Famagusta, which was the old, walled city. The city's schools, as well as various bodies, associations and organizations have "Varosion" in their title. The High School in 1924 was recognized by the Ministry of Education of Greece as a full six-grade High School, equal to the other six-grade High Schools of Greece, under the name Greek High School of Varosia. In general, especially in the first decades of the 20th century, the name of the city was Varosi/a and the name Famagusta referred almost exclusively to the old city and the province.

However, there were also cases where the name Famagusta was used. For example, the 1904 the Anecdotal Cypriot Documents of the XNUMXth Century by Klimentos Karnapas is published "in Famagusta". The 1904 the Famagusta tobacco factory of Dimitrios and Georgios is founded. Loukas Zaloumidis publishes the newspaper Famagusta (1912-1921). In 1930, the Greek High School of Famagusta was founded. On the initiative of High School Principal Hatziioannou (1946-48) the E.G. Varosion is renamed to E.G. Famagusta, a fact that contributed to the gradual prevalence of the name Famagusta for the entire city. The official decision of the Ministry of Education on the renaming was made in 1950, but already in 1947 the inscription HELLENIC HIGH SCHOOL OF AMMOCHOSTO it was recorded in the Propylaia. The School Committees bear the name of Varosion, but gradually they are renamed to Famagusta. The Municipality of Famagusta is called Varosion or Varosion and Famagusta and finally it is called Municipality of Famagusta. In official letters in the 1940s and 1950s both En Famagusta and En Varosios are used. In the 1950s, the Rotary Club of Famagusta was founded. In 1957, the Society of Friends and Researchers of Famagusta was founded, and in 1960, the establishment of the Scientific and Philological Association of Famagusta, EFSA, as well as the Nautical Club of Famagusta, known as NOA, followed. Of course, the argument can be made that in some cases Famagusta refers to the province, not just the city. In a letter to K. Kyrris, K. Hatziioannou clarifies that the purpose of renaming the Gymnasium to Famagusta was "to eliminate the localist tendency, which was supported by the word Varosion, and to make it embrace the entire province".

Gradually the name Varosi it is abandoned, although colloquially it continues to be used, albeit to a constantly reduced degree, when reference is made to the new city, as opposed to the city within the walls. Otherwise, the name Famagusta has prevailed almost completely, especially in official use and in the names of associations, organizations, etc. The city of Famagusta includes the entire area of ​​the Municipality. The city has rediscovered its Greek name, which began to be used as a toponym some 16 centuries ago.

Historical References, Various Versions

A number of passages and notes are listed, referring to the name of the city. Some passages etc. are repeated in the main text as well, but it was considered necessary to include them here for the sake of completeness.


As Strabo testifies at the beginning of the 1st c. AD: "Arsinoe... And then Salamis... let Arsinoe be a city and a port. Or another port Lefcolla or the ends of Pidalion...". The name Famagusta is not mentioned by Strabo, although he mentions Arsinoe, Leucolla and Pidalion, which essentially make up the area of ​​Famagusta.


Claudius Ptolemy, in the Geographical Hyphesis, where he deals with the longitude and latitude of the eastern coasts and the position of Cyprus, writes: "after the Thrones the akran, the Rudder end [Ammochos] of the river plain, Salamis, Elea akra, Ura voos ...". He does not refer to Arsinoe, but after the Rudder Point (today's Cape Greco) he inserts the name Famagusta, although Maria Iacovou believes that this is still considered a later addition to the Geographical History.5


One of the few references to the name Famagusta in the first centuries AD. it is in Stadiasmos, a navigational guide of an anonymous geographer of the 4th c. AD, in which it is mentioned: "And from Pidalion on the island of stadia [80]; the city is a desert, called Famagusta, and it has a port everywhere windy, and it has in its origin a pig, a diphylatto" (From Cape Pidalion to the islands the distance is 80 stadia. There is a desert city there called Famagusta. It has a harbor fit for every wind, but at its entrance are rocks under the surface of the sea [xeres], beware). It seems that this deserted city was Arsinoe, but there was already, from the end of the Roman Period, the toponym Famagusta, and in this location the city of Famagusta developed later. Or the ruined city of Arsinoe, which took the name Famagusta. The dry docks mentioned still exist today outside the port of Famagusta. However, it is probably the first time that the city/settlement or the region with the name Famagusta is mentioned in the sources.

AGNOSTOU, 7th c.

One of the first references to the toponym Famagusta is in the Life of Philentolos Olympios in the 7th century. The unknown author (also from Constantia) mentions the name Famagusta - according to Kostas Kyrris for the first time - for the area near Constantia, but he probably means an area covered by sand, i.e. the beach of Salamis and the city that it was destroyed by earthquakes in 332/342 AD.

ARABIC TEXT, 11th cent.

In an Arabic text of the 11th c. (Book of Curiosities) in a diagram appears the word al-Maudah, possibly a misspelling of al-Makhusah, a corruption of Famagusta. (See TASSOS PAPACOSTAS below).


Famagusta is mentioned by two pilgrims in the 12th century. due to its port. It then appears in Richard the Lionheart's campaign chronicles several times as a city, under the name Famagusta. In a nautical manual of Pisa of the 12th/13th c. the description civitas Famagosta is contained.

FRAGOKRATI A, 1191-1571

With the arrival of Richard in Famagusta, the city appears in the foreground of history (under the name Fomagoce and Famagosta Vecchia) after the Byzantine Period during which it was virtually non-existent in the sources. During the Lusignan, Genoese and Venetian periods the city is called Famagusta, Famagosta, Famagusta.


Leontios Macheiras is mentioned very often in Amohouston. “The city called Famagusta was also strong and powerful. Costus (Konstas), father of Ag. Catherine, he was king there, and so he was called Famacosti."


"The city of Famagusta is situated at the eastern extremity of the island of Cyprus on a low coast near the sea, whence it received its Greek name Amathus [meaning Famagusta], which means sunk in the sand... This place was formerly called Salaminia from the ancient city of Salamis, founded by Teucros after the fall of Troy, and then Constantia... The city has a port, which stretches from east to north... while a small castle, with four towers of ancient style, dominates the harbor...".

Etienne de Lusignan, 1573

“So then Famagosta got its name. In Roman times some say it was called in Greek Amochusta, which means in Latin "hidden in the sand", because there is nothing but sand around, but the word has been corrupted into Famagosta. It developed with the destruction of Salamis."


"It is located on the extreme eastern coast, near the ruins of ancient Salamis, and was named after King Konstas, father of St. of Catherine, or of Augustus, in commemoration of his victory at Actium over Antony and Cleopatra, hence, as some say, Fama Augusti, Famagosta, whereas formerly it was named after Arsinoe, whom many assert is its founder".


"This city was afterwards called Constantia; but it was destroyed by the Jews in the days of the emperor Trajan, and finally by the Saracens in the reign of Heraclius. On its ruins, the famous Famagosta was built by King Konstas, as they say, the father of Saint Catherine".


“We came to the village called Merash which is half a mile south of Famagusta, where live Christians who are not allowed to dwell within the city… This place is now called old Famagusta and is about four miles distant from the modern city… To the west of Salamina there is a small ruined church, and near it a very small church... it is dedicated to Ag. Catherine, who, they say, was the daughter of King Konstas, the founder of the present Famagusta, and that the city took its name from him."


"The city of Famagusta was formerly called Arsinoe, after the sister of Ptolemy Philadelphus, its founder. Its real name Famagusta is a corruption of Famagusta, meaning buried in the sand, from the sandy soil that surrounds it."


And Archimandrite Kyprianos on numerous occasions refers to Ammohouston. "They say that it was called Famagusta by the Romans, because it is buried in the sand".17


“In this great gulf stood the city of Arsinoe, named after its founder Arsinoe, sister and wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt. On its ruins was built the city now called Famagosta or Famagusta, a later name, about the origin of which writers curiously disagree."


"In its earliest known form, Famagosta is Amtikhadasta, an Assyrian word from the days of Essarhadon: 'place of the goddess.' The locals, Arians not Semites pronounced the name Amagosta. The Greek merchants called it Famagusta. Famagosta is a modern name, modern compared to Essarhadon's time. But the local name has never changed on the lips of the natives, Amagosta in the reign of Essarhadon, is Amagosta in the years of Queen Victoria's reign.'


"Two hours south of Salamis lies the city of Arsinoe, later called Famagusta.... Famagusta IV was then named, perhaps because of the abundance of sand on the outside. The Turks and the Arabs call it Mousan, and the Western Europeans Famagusta. Meletius also mentions the same poem, saying "Ammochostos, not far from the old Salamis, that is, Constantia, a fortified city, I strongly opposed the raids of the Turks, both by sea and by land, under whom it mercifully suffered the last hardships . It is commonly called Famagusta". But perhaps by him commonly he wants to mean that under the other Europeans it was called, because under these Cypriots Famagusta was never called, but Famagusta was always called. And according to the Cypriot chroniclers of the Middle Ages, the city is called Famagusta, and its inhabitants under L. Mahairas Ammohoustians, and under G. Voustronios Ammohoustians".


"Famagusta was built, as we say, under Ptolemy of Philadelphus and in honor of his wife Arsinoe was called, but because of the many surrounding sands it prevailed to be called Famagusta. Sub


“The remains of the medieval city are now inhabited exclusively by Turks. The Christian population with their occupations, as well as the government offices, are concentrated in a village called Varosia (Turkish Varosh, suburb), about a mile from the fort.'


"The Greek "Ammochostos" corresponds to the Latin form "Famagusta", which I always use. The origin of F- is obscure, but the form is certainly a corruption of the Greek, meaning "buried in the sand," though many Latins thought, says Stephen Lusignianus, that Famagusta meant "Fame or glory of Augustus," and was named thus on the occasion of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra. Nicole Le Huen...believes that the name came from Konstas, father of Ag. Ekaterinis, ..."Costus (Constas), father of Ag. Catherine, he was king there, and so he was called Famacosti". Also, in “Voyage de Hierusalem” 1480, p.106 … the anonymous Englishman … has another fancy version … that “it is rightly called Famagusta because the sea has open its mouth to suck it in because it likes it” [Fam and Gusta] .23


"Much later [1925] the Bank of Famagusta was founded. During its founding session, there was a great deal of discussion and almost wrecked the entire case: The shareholders wanted it to be called "Bank of Varosion", while M. Louizidis insisted that it be called "Bank of Famagusta", because the official name of the city was Famagusta. After a stormy discussion, the name "Bank of Famagusta" prevailed.


"The etymology 'Fama Augusti' seems to appear for the first time in Lusignan...But Aeneas Sylvius...suggests 'Fanum Augusti.' The name “Famagusta” is, of course, a scrupulous corruption of the Greek, and has been used by Latin writers since the twelfth century… “Amocusta” is another Latin form, the ending of which has been influenced by “Famagusta”; it appears until in the 12th century (e.g. in the Appointment by the Doge of Captain John Contarini, 16...). The Turks call her Maghusa."


"The Franks called Famagusta Famagusta, which is of course a corruption of the Greek Famagusta, but by sticking the letter F in front of it, Western travelers created various fantastic and ridiculous etymologies. As Stefanos Lusignianos informs us, the Latins etymologically derived Famagusta from Fama Augusti (fame of Augustus) in memory of the alleged victory of Augustus against Antony and Cleopatra in Action in 31 BC! A Frenchman, Nicole de Huen etymologically derived the name from fama Costi i.e. fame of Costa, father of Saint Catherine, and finally an anonymous Englishman said that Famagusta came from the sea having its mouth open to suck it because likes, i.e. Famagusta from Fam and gusta…

In 1683 we have the first testimony from the Dutchman van Bruyn that there was today's Kato Varosi with the name Spiliotissa as we saw before, and in 1738 we have the testimony of Pococke that "he went to a village called Merash, which was half a mile to the south of Famagusta, where the Christians live, who are not allowed to live in the city. I was introduced, he says, to a Christian who gave me a room he had built in his orchard and I was there all alone". Pococke in his work published in 1747 has a map drawn by Jeffery with the name of today's Varosios as Merash and so Merash is written by the German historian, JP Reinhard in the map he has in the second volume of his work "History of the kingdoms of Cyprus" which he published in 1768.

The name Varosi comes from the Turkish word varos which means suburb and one wonders how in 1738 it was called Merash in Turkish and today Marash. Marash or Merash is a village in Turkey and it is possible that the Turks named it Varos Marash from there. It seems that the word varos is written in Turkish and was unknown to the Turkish mob, so Varos was made into Marash and Merash. The Greeks again etymologically named Varosi after some non-existent Baron Ross and that is why Varosi is written with omega and hardly anyone dares to write it with omicron lest they be labeled as illiterate.

Simos Menardos in "Toponymikon tis Cyprus" writes: "No other Turkish toponym is as bad as the one attributed to the Christian settlement formed outside its walls after the expulsion of Famagusta, which is called Varosia (ta). This word, in fact referring to the Varosians and even the Varosians (!) has been etymologically multiple, attributed to this Baron Rossin, the mythologized ancestor of the Zakynthian porter of the Cyprus exhibition of 1901 (!)"".26


"With the end of the war, a new era begins for Famagusta. The population increases and the city expands so much that its parishes join one another. The sea is now also being discovered. Many beach houses are being built and the first hotels are being completed. At this stage the city abandons the name Varosia from the Turkish word varos: suburb, and adopts the Greek name Famagusta".


"The people of the area, fishermen, farmers, breeders, soon forgot the name of Arsinoe, since that city no longer lived. When they were not going to refer to the ruins of that city, they began to describe them as the "ruins of the sandy city". The ruins, that is, of a city that was literally "buried in the sand". So originally "ammochostos" was not a name. It was an adjective... And from this phrase: "Femi Konsta", the name "Famakousta" finally came. Which was given to the city which was the successor and successor of Constantia, to the city of Famagusta... However, the name Mera survived, corrupted by the Ottomans to Maras, a name which the Turks gave to New Famagusta. In other words, the area that was known as "Varosia" is today called "officially" Maras by the Turks, and that is how it appears on the maps of their "state".28


"Unfortunately some, either from a lack of historical knowledge or ignorance, still call the city of Evagoras, Famagusta, as Varosia (Varosi). Such a city never existed nor does it exist today. Even the Turks do not use the name "Varosia" but "Gazimagusa" together with "Famagusta", which is also of Greek origin. The city of Famagusta is mentioned with this name for the first time in the work "Staging, i.e. Voyages of the Great Sea". It is a nautical manual, an aid for seafarers that was written exactly in the 4th AD. century. The name of this Greek author, which unfortunately remains unknown, also writes the following: "...And from Pidalio on an island, stadia, a city that is deserted, called Famagusta, it has a harbor everywhere, and it has a wild pig in its origin...". But where did the toponym Varosia (Varosi), which some people use incorrectly, come from? ...by sultanic decree in the year 1573 the Greek inhabitants of the city within the walls (today's Old Famagusta) were finally expelled and ordered to establish a suburb in a location that is not entrenched and dominant, i.e. not a "meteriz" according to the phraseology of the document, i.e. to have no strategic importance. In the Turkish language of the document, this suburb is referred to as "varos", which was also the beginning of calling the city outside the walls as "Varosin" or "Varosia" by some. But no historian, writer or foreign traveler uses this term for the city of Famagusta. ... On the maps of the Cadastre from the time of the Anglo-colonial era, the toponym VAROSHA (ARSINOE) is nothing more than an area - district of the city, like many other toponyms (districts, areas, suburbs, suburbs, etc.) that make up the city of Famagusta.

Therefore, let those who do it out of ignorance or naivety stop using the name "Varosia" and fall into the trap of foreigners who talk about the return of the residents to the "enclosed area of ​​Varosia" instead of the liberation of the entire city of Famagusta within the municipal borders before the Turkish invasion of 1974. Therefore, the inhabitants of Greek origin from the time of Tevkros, Onisilos and Evagoras must be identified as "Ammochostians" and not with the Turkish origin "Varosiotes".


"The first confirmation of the toponym after that of the early seventh-century history of Philendolus comes from an unusual source: It is the so-called Book of Curiosities, ... written in Fatimid Egypt in the second quarter of the eleventh century. …Among these is al Mā'ūḍah, possibly an error for al-Mākhūṣah, which is clearly a corruption of Famagusta…During the same period [12th c.] Famagusta first appears in Latin texts as Famagusta, and again a corruption of the Greek name as noted by Richard Dawkins some eighty years ago; I need not add that the place-name has of course nothing to do with highly fanciful etymologies which appeared in later centuries (famaCosti from Konstas, father of the mythical Catherine of Alexandria , fanum or fama Augusti from the emperor Augustus). The similarity of the Latin to the Arabic version of the place-name (Famagusta/al-Mākhūṣah) may suggest that it came from the latter rather than directly from the Greek, perhaps through contacts during the Crusades period…”.

Whatever the origin of the city's name and regardless of when and how the name Famagusta was created, the essence remains: Famagusta with its heralds carries on its back 36 centuries of life, full of wealth and glory, but often also poverty and unhappiness. The latest calamity, the Turkish invasion and occupation, which has continued for 41 years, is an unspeakable tragedy. But the Neverending Story can only continue. The city will regain its freedom and its inhabitants will return to their ancestral homes, to their beloved Famagusta.

Famagusta.News / Yagos P. Cleopas