Kyrenia (Girne) is a city on the north coast of Cyprus, known for its cobblestoned old town and horseshoe-shaped harbor. The ancient Kyrenia Castle is a large fortification with a dungeon accessible by a stone bridge. The castle houses the Shipwreck Museum, with a shipwreck from the 3rd century B.C. The nearby Icon Museum displays religious icons inside the restored Greek Orthodox Archangelos Michael Church.
Kyrenia castle was built by the Byzentines in the 7th Century to guard the city against Arab maritime threat. King Richard the Lionhert of England captured it on his way to the Third Crusade in 1191 by defeating Isaac Comnenus who proclaimed himself emperor. The first historical references occurred during this period of time. He sold the island after a short period to the KnightsTemplar, and to his cousin Guy de Lusignan, the former king of Jerusalem. Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus started (1192-1489). improvements.During this 300 years of the Frankish Kingdom, the major development of the castles take place. John d’lbelin enlarged the castle etween 1208 to 1211 from its initial small size.
A new entrance, square and horseshoe-shaped towers, embrasures for archers, and dungeons are done. The Castle’s main function was military and the improvements.
St. Hillarion Castle
The castle is made sometime in the 7th century . At 732 meters high St. Hillarion is the best preserved castle of three Crusader castles along with Buffavento and Kantara castle. The name of the castle name is not after ther St. Hillarion The Great but after the name of a hermit of Palestine who flee from there and stayed in this castle. The original castle, to which the monastery gave place formed part of the Byzantine defense of the Island from the Arab pirates, which included castles of Kyrenia, Buffavento and Kantara.
The village of Bellapais, made famous by Lawrence Durrell in “Bitter Lemons”. The village is in the foothills of the Besparmak mountains a few kilometres east of Girne , on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, and affords spectacular views. It is dominated by Bellapais Abbey a masterpiece of Gothic art, and the most beautiful Gothic building in the Near East. The original name was the Abbaye de la Paix, or Abbey of Peace. Continue reading