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HISTORICAL PLACE

Nicosia
Kyrenia
Famagusta
Guzelyurt
Iskele

Iskele
- Icon Museum Of Iskele
- Kantara Castle
- Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Iskele
On the way to Karpas from Famagusta, the largest settlement in the area is Iskele (Trikomo). The town is mainly inhabited by the Turkish-Cypriot refugees from Larnaca (now in south Cyprus) who relocated to here after 1974.The quaint 15th century Byzantine church of St. Jacob (Avios Iakovos) dominates the center of the town.

Iskele icon museum is another main attraction in the town. Iinaugurated in 1991, the 12th century church of Panagina Theotokos (Blessed Virgin Mary) is preserved by the Department of Antiquities and Museums as the icon museum.

Iskele and the vast Karpas peninsula with the virgin beaches, attractive wildlife and ancient churches and ruins offers ideal place for those seeking peace and quiet.

The region also houses the wild Cypriot donkeys who gaze care-free in the nature. In the recent years there has been controversy between the environmentalists and the authorities on how best to control their population in a more sustainable way.

Iskele is also famous for its annual festival during summer, as well as the Mehmetcik (Galatya) Grape Festival both major regional cultural events attracting visitors across the island.

ICON MUSEUM OF ISKELE
This museum was inaugurated on 23rd May, 1991 in the main church (Panayia Theotokos- Blessed Virgin Mary) of the village as a result of work carried out by the Department of Antiquities and Museums of the Ministry of National Education and Culture.

The church housing the museum was built in the early 12th century. It originally had a single isle and a dome, with arched recesses on the side ward. Such churches represent the popular church architecture of 12th century in Cyprus.

In the 15th century a vaulted aisle was added on the northern side and at a later date an extension at the west. The church was soundly repaired in 1804. A carved railing (Thorakion) taken from the original iconostasis was installed on modern belfry standing on the north - east corner of the church. Some of the wall paintings dating back to the 12th century still stand today and are rare examples of the art decoration in the island.

Apart from these magnificent wall - paintings, icons belonging to this church and some other icons from other parts of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which have been put under protection are displayed in the museum.The tiny little chapel of St. James is one of the most charming miniature churches in Cyprus. The interior has porcelain plates in the vaulting, but the icons and iconostasis are without interest. An exact model of the church has the erected by the Queen of Romania, at her palace on the Black Sea, to serve as her private chapel.

KANTARA CASTLE
Kantara, is situated at the Eastern end of the Kyrenia Range (2,068 ft.). It is 26 miles North of Famagusta reached via Iskele and Ardahan villages. The castle is 2 miles east of the summer resort which is also called Kantara (1,800 ft.)Kantara means a bridge or arch in Arabic probably so named by the Arab invaders in the past. In fact the whole setting of the terrain looks like an arch and it certainly commands excellent views of the seas on both sides and of long stretches of plain all around it. It was originally built by Byzantines against the invasions of the Saracens. The Lusignans called it Candare or La Candaire. They remodelled and enlarged these fortifications.

The Castle is entered from the east where the cliff is less steep and allows an access. The entrance is about in the centre of the eastern outer wall and was protected on both sides by two rectangular towers of which only tile parts survives.

In the south tower are now arranged the latrines. The outer wall ended to the North and the South in two shoe-horse shaped tower with loopholes. Climbing the steps, the visitor having entered the barbican reaches the inner entrance of the castle which is in the centre of a strong wall which ends in two huge towers at the North and South.

The visitor entering the inner entrance and turning to the left comes to the Southeast tower , a large rectangular room covered with a cross vault. The basement of this room, which has now been turned into a cistern for rain water storage, was , at first used as a prison. Leaving this tower the visitor comes to a vaulted room . Following the path to the south comes to a range of three vaulted chambers with loopholes. At the Southeast end of those chambers is the Mediaeval latrine. Following the path to the Southwest the visitor sees the remains of the South wall and on the right a shoe-shaped cistern .Further to the west on the left are the remains of a tower and on the right the remains of other chambers and cisterns.

The west part of the southern wall of the castle ends in a shoe-horse shaped tower and continues at the west of the cliff with three vaulted climbers. In the most Southerly chamber there is a small gate which was used by the garrison in an emergency. In the Northern side of the West part there are another two vaulted chambers.

Following the steep path on left are the remarks of the Byzantine Northern wall with cisterns and other ruined chambers. From here the view of the Northern Coast of Cyprus is majestic.

Leaving the Northern wall of the Castle that entrances the steep cliff, the visitor may visit the chamber on the top of which the South wall with its beautiful window stands almost intact (2068 ft.) The Mediaeval Guard of the Castle used this tower not in order to enjoy the view but in order to exchange messages with the guard on Buffavento Castle.

Descending the tower of the summit to the North-East direction the visitor arrives at the North-East two storeyed tower which commands the entrance and control the movements in the North Sea. An entrance in the Eastern Wall leads to the shoe-horse shaped vaulted tower. The top floor of this tower ended with a rectangular chamber. Leaving this tower the visitor following the path on his left, comes to the inner entrance of the Castle.

APOSTOLOS ANDREAS MONASTERY
This is one of the pilgrimage centres of Orhodox Church of Cyprus, and is at the tip of the Karpas peninsula.It was once the Lourdes of Cyprus, served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen.An enormous modern plaza of pilgrims lodgings frames the slightly older monastery buildings wrapped around the church. Below, the modern church steps lead down to a square, vaulted chapel, three baptismal basins fed by a sacred spring and an old wharf.

It was on this site that St Andrew briefly landed in Cyprus on his final missionary journey back to his Palestinian homeland. His footfall revealed a spring whose waters miraculously healed the blind captain of his ship. A fortified monastery stood here in the 12th century, from which Isaac Comnenus negotiated his surrender to Richard the Lion Heart, though the chapel built in the 15th century is the oldest surviving building.

 
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