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Situated on the north coast of Cyprus , Kyrenia, with its 6,000 year long history, unique remains of countless civilisations, miles of natural beaches, calm sea, and mild climate is an idyllic Mediterranean town. Bounded to the north by the sea and to the south by the greenery of the Besparmak (Five finger) Mountain range, it offers the most magnificent scenery on the island.

Its charming and tiny harbour, full of yachts and fishing boats, is framed by the colossal hulk of its Crusader castle. With the backdrop of the jagged mountains behind and the calm sparkling sea in front, the harbour has an intoxicatingly serene atmosphere.

Kyrenia is an easy place to while away any time of the day... exploring shops, markets and local cafes in late morning, strolling in the narrow cobbled alleys behind the harbour in the afternoon, or stepping out for a brisk walk along the promenade and sea wall in the evening.

Overlooking the entrance to the harbour is Kyrenia Castle. Dating from the time of the Byzantines, its massive defenses surround a complex mixture of building styles from centuries before and it is likely that there was a Roman fort here originally. Subsequently enlarged and strengthened by the Lusignans and then the Venetians, the castle is now home to many historical artifacts and is the current resting-place of the world's oldest shipwreck.

As the sun sets, Kyrenia harbour again becomes the focus of activity as the locals take their evening stroll and the cafes and bistros that face the sea prepare for their nightly trade. Crisp white linen and small vases of local flowers are lovingly arranged on tabletops to welcome the evening's guests to wine and dine in the cooling breeze.


Ancient Graveyard of Girne (Baldoken Graveyerd)

When Ottomans conquered Cyprus in 1571, the land, today known as "Islam Graveyard" outside from the castle of Girne, was reserved as "Cemetery for soldiers" in the first years of the Ottoman era. It was used for the same purpose until the end of 17th century. Cistern, water canals and architectural tombs were built in it. When the cemetery for soldiers began to accept non-soldiers, the name was changed to Islam Graveyard. This is known also as "Graveyard of Forlorn". St Andrew British Church, District Club and Tennis Court were built beside this graveyard. Until recent years, this graveyard was known as Baldoken Graveyard. It was restored by the Foundations Office in 1995.

Antiphonitis Church

It's known that this church was used to be seed of an important monastery. Its dome is placed on eight round columns which form an irregular octagon. The part called as bema and the rest of the church were tried to be separated by keeping two of the columns separated from the walls. Considering its features this building is one of the finest of its kind in Cyprus which remained till today. The nartex part with barrel vaults on the west and the cloister arrangements on the south were added in 14th or 15th centuries. The cloister arrangement on the south is an unique example of gothic stone work. However, nothing left behind from the wooden upper-cover and the stone parapet made between the columns. Antiphonitis means "Replying Christ". The building in its original form was fully covered with wall paints (Frescos) instead of nartex. Most of these frescos have unfortunately disappeared. The Frescos can be dated in two different periods: 12th or 13th centuries and 14th or 15th centuries. Besides the Biblical themes, the frescos also describe the Saints. Moreover, although they couldn't survive till today, it's known that themes from the Old Testament were also described. Babtise of Christ, Birth of Mary, St. Symeon Stylites are among the wall paints which remained till today.

Bellapais Abbey

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.

Saint Hilarion Castle

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 Castle of Girne (Kyrenia)

The castle of Girne, one of the most impressive and powered castles to have survived since the middle ages until today, was supposed to be built to protect the city from pirates in the 7th century. The remnants left from the Roman age show that the history of Girne castle harks back to older times. Written findings mention the Girne castle, and that the King Richard III of England had captured the island during the Crusades in 1911. It is known that the castle of Girne had been subjected to changes during the sovereignty term of French Luzinyen lasting for 300 years. The castle was heavily demolished by the attack of Genovese' in 1373. The Venetians rebuilt the castle in order to gain protection from the Ottoman fires. New city walls and round towers were added during this term. When the castle was finished, the church of Saint George that was used by Knights Templar and was supposedly built in 1100, was within the city walls. The castle is reached by a marrow bridge built on a deep ditch, which was used as an inner port filled with water until the years of 1400. The figures of three lions standing on their back paws on the vault of the inner door were made by Luziniens. The tomb is seen when entered through the door belonging to Algerian, Sadik Pasa, Ottoman Admiral who died during the capture of Cyprus in 1570. Today the Venetian Tower (in the southwest), Lusinien Tower (in the northwest), and the prisons of Lusinian period were restored as animations. Also, Samic, compositions belonging to Vrysi Neolithic village taking place 10 km far in the east of Girne, findings, animations of tombs found in Kirni village during Early and Middle Bronze Age, and Sunk Ships Museum are all open as exhibitions.

The Church of Arkhangelos (Icon Museum)

Arkhangelos Church, down in the historical yacht port,was built in 1860 and worth seeing. The tower that was added after the church was built is a sign point that can be seen from every part of Girne. Here is a museum that shows the many splendid icons that were collected from Girne and its environs.

The Kyrenia Museum of Folk Art

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 Museum of Public Arts

Within the historical yacht port of Girne, the house of the 18th century now serves as museum. Olive oil presses, primitive ploughs, cubes, a wooden threshing sled, agricultural tools, a loom for weaving, pulley wheels are exhibited in this museum. At the upstairs through wooden stairs from entrance hall, the ancient garments, table cloths, head scarfs, woollen socks, wedding dresses, carved trousseau chests, silver embroidery bed covers, cushions, bedsteads, wooden boards and window roll-down shutters are also exhibited.

The Museum of Sunk Ship

The sunk ship exhibited in the castle of Girne was built in 389 BC and was 80 years old. About 400 pieces Anphoras,29 basalt millstones, about 9000 pieces of almond were found in this sunk ship that was thought to be a cargo ship during Hellenistic ages after the death of Alexander. About 300 pieces of lead shows the ship was used for fishing. This sunk ship is about 1.5 km near Gime, at depth of 18 m and found by sponge fisherman in 1965. It was taken out of water by the experts of Pennsylvania University. It is 15 m in length, made of Aleppo pine. The wooden surface of the ship is coated with a strong lacquer, to protect against Mediterranean wood-boring maggot. The kitchen utensils, wooden spoons, olive bottle, glasses,saltcellars show the ship's crew was only four persons.


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