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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilizations - Statue of Aphrodite

The Eastern Frontier of Christendom

St Nicholas cathedral. Famagusta.

St Nicholas cathedral. Famagusta.

Cyprus sat squarely in the path of the Crusades, and those wars of religion changed Cyprus's history again. When crusaders captured the island during the Third Crusade, Cyprus was cut off from the Byzantine Empire once and for all. King Richard the Lionheart of England captured the island in 1191 and sold it a year later to Guy de Lusignan, the Frankish crusader-king of Jerusalem. Cyprus became one of the crusader states that sprang up along the route to the Holy Land.

This was a medieval golden age, a time that saw the building of Gothic cathedrals and military strongholds. In 1489, Cyprus was handed over to Venice and used as a military base and center of trade.

Cyprus's medieval period ended with the Ottoman conquests of Nicosia and Famagusta in 1570–71. Ottoman rule continued until 1878.

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