The area around Famagusta has always been favourable to growth and prosperity. There was a large fertile plain and a natural harbour. In addition, the prevailing winds and ocean currents made it in ideal position for trade with the near east.
The first city in the area was at Enkomi, originally a small community of farmers, but eventually becoming a large trading city by around 1500BC.
Salamis, itself, was reputedly founded by Teucer, son of King Telamon of Salamis island. It is thought that the city was originally restricted to a small area round the harbour, and gradually expanded, particularly from around 1100BC, when Enkomi was abandoned and its inhabitants moved to Salamis.
By the 8th Century BC, Salamis had become an important trading centre and a Royal city. Until the end of the fourth century it ruled over a tract of country far more extensive and fertile than that possessed by any other town, at one stage reaching as far as Troodos. The first coins had been mined in Salamis in the 6th century BC, and in inscriptions throughout the island from around this time, Salamis is mentioned.
Earthquakes in 332 and 342 caused a great deal of damage, and the city was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Constantius, naming it Constantia after himself, making it the capital of the island once again. The city became the seat of both the Byzantine governor, and the Orthodox archbishop. By this time, however the harbour was beginning to silt up, and the city was subject to Arab raids.
In 648, after yet another Arab raid, the citizens moved to Arsinoe, which later became Famagusta, although there is some evidence of occupation as late as 1300.
For many years, the city was treated as a source of building materials, and during the Venetian period, many columns and pieces of sculpture were removed from the site. Shifting sands, however, covered most of the city and protected it from the hands of looters.
Although 90% of the city remains buried under the sands, the site is still impressive, and well worth a visit.