Kyrenia Some say Kyrenia was established by the Achaeans coming from the Peloponnese around the 10th Century BC, while others claim it was founded by the Phoenicians around the 9th Century BC. It was, for many centuries, one of the 10 kingdoms of Cyprus.
In the 7th Century the town was fortified by the Byzantines who built the original Kyrenia Castle (later expanded by the Lusignans and the Venetians).
Under the Ottomans, Kyrenia remained a minor port. The British built a harbour and a quay, and the town became a resting place for ex-patriots and their families because of its picturesque situation, its beautiful harbour and romantic atmosphere.
GENERAL MOOD AND LIFESTLYE
Kyrenia being one of the most vibrant, colorful and historical cities in Cyprus will offer you the opportunity to experience a super break away from your daily routine; truly a chance to discover and enjoy the beauties of the city.
Kyrenia not only has its history to offer but also its beautifully unspoiled beaches of golden sands lying still beside the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. You can just imagine yourself soaking up the mid-afternoon sun, just before getting ready for a night out when you’ll be indulging in authentic ally prepared delicious ‘mezes’ and barbecues along the seafront of the historically preserved harbour.
Arriving at Kyrenia at any time of day or evening, one discovers the intoxicatingly serene atmosphere of the harbour that is jam packed with bars, restaurants and cafes, ideal for sitting back and simply watching the world go by, with Kyrenia Castle, still in perfect condition, since the 7th century, just beside.
Back from the harbour, the narrow medieval town, streets wind amongst shops, workshops and historic buildings, such as the Agha Cafer Pasha mosque, dates from around 1570. It’s a fascinating wander up and down the steps that link the streets of Kyrenia, so take time to stop and admire a craftsman at work or just catch a glimpse a hidden walled garden. You can shop at the Municipal Market for your fruit and vegetables to take back to your Cyprus villa, and then drop in at the Round Tower Gallery, housed in a former town walls defence tower, for local Cyprus crafts.
You really can’t help but walk on history in Kyrenia; under your feet are over 70 catacomb tombs cut into the limestone, many of which have long since been built over. Kyrenia’s former churches have been put to various uses, such as housing the Icon Museum, whereas others exist as picturesque ruins. The outskirts of Kyrenia have grown immensely in recent years due to new development, but the historic heart still beats with life and interest all year round.
You won’t know where time has gone while exploring shops, markets and local cafés 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.
As the sun sets, Kyrenia harbour again becomes the focus of activity as the locals take their evening stroll and the cafés 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.
PLACES OF INTEREST TO VISIT
In Kyrenia itself, probably the most spectacular is the castle and shipwreck museum. Just 5 Km outside Kyrenia, a visit to the 14th Century Lusignan Bellapais Abbey is a must, while slightly further afield lies the fairy-tale castle of St. Hilarion. Rumoured to be the original inspiration for Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty”, St Hilarion was built during the Crusades, and those intrepid enough to brave the long walk to its battlements will be rewarded with stunning views of Kyrenia and the whole of the island’s northern coastline. Don’t stop there scale the wind-buffeted hights of Buffavento Castle for more. Drive east along the north coast from Kyrenia to Kaplica and immerse in the beauty and silence of the landscape. Explore the sites of Ancient Vouni and Ancient Soloi on the North West coast.