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- Kyrenia Gate
- Bellapais Abbey
- Antiphonitis Church
- St Hilarion Castle
- Shipwreck Museum
- Kyrenia Museum Of Folkart
- Bufavento Castle

Kyrenia is founded in the 10th Century BC. , by Achaean settlers and was for many Centuries one of the 10 Kingdoms of Cyprus. In the 7th Century it was fortified by Byzantine who built the original Castle later expanded first by the Lusignans and then by the Venetians. Under Ottomans the town had remained a minor port. The British built a harbour and a Quay. Under British Empire the Town was an en-route resting place for officers, captains and their families for its picturesque situation, its beautiful harbour and leisurely and romantic atmosphere. The Town still retains its character with many restaurants and bars by the Harbour and small hotels spreading east and west of the town, along the coastline which raises to form an impressive backdrop with the mountains behind. The region now an attractive holiday resort boasts many historic sites worth visiting. Among these the Harbour Castle and the Shipwreck Museum, The St. Hilarion Castle, The Bellapais Abbey, the Folk Art and the Icon Museums are the most important.

KYRENIA CASTLE ( Girne Kalesi )
The castle is thought to have been constructed to protect the town against the Arab raids in the 7th century. Like the Kantara Castle, it played an important role in the Lusignan period. In this period the castle underwent a lot of changes due to restoration work. The restoration work was interrupted briefly in 1373, because of the Genoese siege but went on afterwards.

When the castle was first built, the fortifications were constructed with the armoured knights and archers in mind. When the Genoese took control of the castle in 1489, they reconstructed the fortifications taking the Ottoman artillery into consideration. They added the northwestern and the southeastern towers as an extra precaution. In spite of all this, however, following the fall of Nicosia in 1570, they surrendered the castle to the Ottomans without putting up any resistance. The entrance to the castle is via a bridge built over a wide ditch. This ditch was full of water until the 14 hundreds. The Lusignan insignia of three lions on the vault of the inner gate has been brought here from another building.

Inside the castle there is a Byzantian church (St. George) thought to have been constructed in the 11 hundreds. The tomb of the Ottoman Admiral, Sadik Pasha the Algerian, who was killed during the conquest of Cyprus by the Ottomans in 1570 is also in this castle.

The other sections of the castle are: the Venetian Towers of the Northwest, Southwest, and Southeast; the guards room, the big hall, various dungeons, and rooms used as depots belonging to the Lusignan period; a tower belonging to the Byzantine period; the Venetian defence platform; a cistern; an arsenal, and a cannon parapet belonging to the Venetian period; and the shipwreck museum. The Department of Antiquities created the atmosphere of an open-air museum in the castle by personifying different historical characters and by using site-animation.

BELLAPAIS ABBEY ( Bellapais Manastiri )
The present day name is the corrupt form of the Abbaye de la Paix' or the Abbey of Peace. The building is regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic art, and the most beautiful Gothic building in the Near East. The first monks who were known to have settled here were Augustinians who had to flee from Jerusalem when the city fell to Selahaddin Eyyubi in 1187. It is known that the original construction was built between 1198-1205, and a large part of the present day complex was constructed during the rule of French King Hugh III (1267-1284). The cloisters and the refectory were built during the reign of Hugh IV (1324-1359). Following the Ottoman conquest the monks were turned out and the building was given to the Greek Orthodox Church. The monastery begins with a gate, whose tower is a kater addition, and a forecourt. The church which is situated on one side of the courtyard is the best preserved part of the monument and dates from the 13th century. The murals which have survived above its facade are thought to be from the 15th century. The forecourt leads to cloisters of 18 arches. Under one of the northern arches there are two Roman sarcophagi which once served as lavabo. The door being the sarcophagus leads to the refectory of the monks. The marble lintel above the door contains the set of coats of armas of the royal quarterings of Cyprus, Jerusalem and the Lusignans.

This is an exquisite sample of Gothic architecture and the finest room in the monastery. The room contains a pulpit for addressing the monks during their meals. Six windows in the north wall which illuminate the room are reinforced by a rose window in the eastern wall. A door in the western wall leads to the kitchen and cellar built under the refectory. The rooms between the refectory and kitchen are thought to have once served as lavatories. The east side of the Inner courtyard was occupied by the chapter house and work rooms (undercroft). The first of these functioned as the administration office of the abbey and retains its interesting Gothic stone carving: a man with a double ladder on his back, another man represented between two sirens, a woman reading, two beasts attacking a man, a woman with a rosary, a monkey and a cat in the foliage of a pear tree under which a man holding a shield is seen, and a monk wearing a cloak. The column standing at its centre is thought to have come from an early Byzantine church. The rooms of the monks occupied the second floor above this section. A Pair of stairs on the south of the inner courtyard lead to the treasury room in the North-west corner of the monastery.

The Antiphonitis church was the center of a monastery. It dates from the end of the 12th century and was built by a monk from Asia Minor. The dome of the edifice rests on eight stone columns which form an octagon. The two columns in the east are detached from the walls and mark the division of the altar. This architecture is very unusual for Cyprus. Its barrel vaulted narthex and arcade, which was once roofed, were added in the 15th century. The stone balustrade between the arches and wood and clay rood of its arcade have not survived.

The name Antiphonitis when loosely translated means 'Christ who Responds'. Some of its surviving frescoes are original. Among these, the Virgin Blachernitissa - with the figure of the bust of Christ Child in her bosom - flanked by Gabriel and Michael, occupies the conch of the apse.

Archangel Michael is encountered once more holding a parchment script on the upper part of the detached north column. On the south-west wall of the nave the blue hooded figure of St. Anthony and the scene of the Baptism can be distinguished. On the lower half of the column on this side St. Endoxus and to the left St. Paul are placed. The rest of the frescoes are from the 15th century. The dome is occupied by the fissure of the Christ Pantokrator represented inside a medallion surrounded by angels in the scene of the Preparation of the Throne, which is flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The twelve apostles seated on their thrones and the images of prophets represented beyond accompany the scene.

The castle is named after St. Hilarion, a hermit monk who fled from persecution in the Holy Land and lived and died in a cave on the mountain. Later lived and died in cave on the mountain.

Later in the 10th century the Byzantines built a church and monastery here. Along with Kantara and Buffavento, St. Hilarion Castle was originally built as a watch tower to give warning of approaching Arab pirates who launched a continuous series of raids on Cyprus and the coasts of Anatolia from the 7th to the 10th centuries. Some 400 years after it was first built, the castle became a place of refuge and also a summer residence for the Lusignans. When the Venetians captured Cyprus 1489, they relied on Kyrenia, Nicosia and Famagusta for the defence of the island and St. Hilarion was neglected and fell into oblivion. The castle consisted of three wards on different altitudes, each with its cisterns and storage rooms. The first and lowest of these was used to accommodate the garrison and horses. It began with a barbican and its main gate and other walls, which are reinforced by horseshoe-shaped towers, were built originally by the Byzantines in the 11th century. The ruins of the stables where the animals were kept and the water cisterns an invaluable water source during the long medieval sieges- have survived to the present day. The entrance of the main gateway of the middle castle, which consisted of a church, Belvedere barrack rooms and a four-storey royal apartment, was closed with a drawbridge. From the church of St. Hilarion its apse has survived. The refectory which served as the - dining hall for the Lusignan nobles is the largest room of the surviving ruins.

When the weather is clear enough, Kyrenia range and the Mediterranean and even the snow-capped Taurus mountains of Anatolia some 100 km north are visible. Beyond the royal apartments there is a large water tank to collect the winter rain. After a steep windy climb access to the upper castle is gained by a Lusignan archway guarded by a tower. The courtyard of the upper castle rests under the natural protection of the twin summits, some 730 m above the sea. These two peaks have given the mountain its first name Didymos (Greek for "twin"), and from which the Crusaders derived the corrupted name of Dieu d'Amour. Two cisterns sunk into the rocky courtyard supplied water to the upper castle. The rooms on the east side served as kitchens and waiting rooms. The royal apartments occupied the western side of the Courtyard. From the gallery, which was originally on a basement, two Gothic tracery windows, one with two stone windows seats on either side, and thus known as the "Queen's Window", have survived. The window offers a beautiful view of the village of Karmi. A set of rough steps leads to the uppermost section of the castle known as the Tower of Prince John. Tradition has it that Prince John of Antioch, having been convinced that they were plotting against him threw his Bulgarian bodyguards to their death.


The ship exhibited in the shipwreck museum is the oldest ship recovered so far. It belongs to the period of the Hellenistic kingdoms founded after the death of Alexander. It was first noticed by a sponge diver at a depth of 3 metres and was brought out by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. Tests applied to almond remains on the ship point to the year 288 B.C.; tests applied to its timber show it is from 389 B.C.. This indicates that the ship was about eighty years old when it sank. The 15-metre body of the ship is made of Jerusalem pine. It is covered with a protective film presumably as a precaution against the mediterranean shipworm. The amphoras found on the ship which number around 400 are thought to have been loaded in Rhodes. Besides these, 29 bosalt mill stones have been found. It is possible to tell from the remains found on the ship that it did business on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts before setting sail for Cyprus and that the crew’s main supply of food was almonds. No human skeletons have been found on the ship.

The Kyrenia Museum of Folk Art situated on the Kyrenia Harbour road and was opened in 1974. It is a fine example of pre XVII. century buildings which have traditionally housed Cypriots. These buildings consisting of a ground floor and a upper floor have their main entrances opening to the harbour. These typical Cypriot houses contain many traditional Cypriot items. On the ground floor, there are items such as oil-mill, plough, agricultural instruments, large earthenware fan, and workbench which were used until recently but are not known by the younger generation. There is a room for a watchman on the stairway leading to the upper floor. The first room of the upper floor there are examples of especially chosen works and handy works (crochet work, materials embroidered with colorful, threads or silver threads, bedspreads, tables covers, head scarves, pillow cases, woollen socks, bowls etc..) from various areas of Cyprus, displayed in glass cabinets. The second room used as a kitchen contain water jugs, wooden mortars, wine bowls, seramic bowls. There is a corner in the third and largest room which was used as a resting place. In the middle of the room, a wooden bed, a wooden cupboard, a cabinet containing various women's and men's clothes, raised wooden shelves with seramic and metal cups displayed upon them. The third largest room has been arranged in this way. It is possible to see, clothes, chests, tables, chair, wall cupboards, doors and windows, in the all parts of the museum.


The Buffavento Castle is one of the three castles constructed on the Kyrenia Range as a line of defence against the Arab attacks - the other two being the St. Hilarion Castle, and the Kantara Castle. The Buffavento Castle is on a hill top 950 metres above sea level. In the Lusignan period (1192-1489), the castle is referred to as the "Lion Castle"; during this period the castle was used as a prison. In the Venetian period the Buffavento Castle was neglected, as castles on the coastline had emerged as being of greater use for the defence of Cyprus.

The castle consists of two sections: the lower castle and the higher section. The lower castle has an arched entrance. The rooms opposite the entrance were used for storing provisions and as dormitories. There is a cistern under the rooms. The red brick workmanship on the arches of gates and rooms is of the Byzantine style. Little has remained of the church that used to be here. ‘Buffavento’ means ‘Insubordinate to the Wind’. The Trodos Mountains and a beautiful scenery is visible from the castle.

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