Girne ( Kyrenia ) :
The northern part of the island falling between the Five Finger Mountain Range and the Mediterranean harbours Kyrenia, the city that has the biggest tourism potential. Having a width of 2.5 km and lenght of 150 km along side the Five Finger Mountain Range, the Kyrenia districit has a vital importance especially in terms of tourism, with numerous accomodation facilities and restaurants.
Old Kyrenia Harbour:
Girne is possibly the best holiday area on the island,
bringing history to visitors while entertaining them. You can catch the
nostalgia by visiting the historic places and travelling around its streets,
sensing the smells of jasmine and orange blossom. You can taste its delicious
cuisine in the plentiful restaurants and sip your coffee at coffee houses during
summer evenings. You can enjoy an environment of people laughing, or let the
smell of the sea and the sound of the waves dreamily waft you away to other
worlds. Girne, often referred to as a tourist paradise, is a rare and ideal
place for a relaxing holiday. The restaurants and bars surrounding its horseshoe
shaped Old Harbour serve tourists in a unique atmosphere. This 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. The graceful
arc of the harbourside is filled with the tables of restaurants and cafés, ideal
for sitting back and simply watching the world go by. The former carob
warehouses have been converted into restaurants and shops, giving the harbour a
bustling lively feel without feeling rushed or crowded.
Kyrenia castle, which dominates the old harbour, is the most complete castle on the island, rivalled only by the citadel of Famagusta. It is thought to have been built by the Byzantines around 700 to protect the town against Arab raids. It was, however, built over an older, Roman, structure. In 1191, Guy de Lusignan seized the castle from the self-proclaimed king of Cyprus, Isaac Commenos who was in hiding at Kantara, but had left his wife and daughter at Kyrenia. Like Kantara Castle, it played an important role during the Lusignan period, and the castle underwent a lot of changes due to restoration work. The castle was further extended by the Venetians, and the bulk of what can be seen today is the Venetian structure
The remains of an exguisite Gothic building in the beautiful mountain village of Bellapais are what are left of the building built by Augustinian monks in 1025 AD. Originally known as the ‘Abbey of Our Lady of the Mountains ‘ the Franks renamed it ‘Lapais’.In time it became known as ‘Abbeye de la Paix’It is now the scene of many wonderful concerts and a vantage point to view countless beautiful sunsets.
St. Hilarion Castle :
Just west of the main Girne Lofkosa road, in the Besparmak mountains, you will find the most westerly of the three Crusader castles of Kantara, Buffevento and St Hilarion.At 732m, St Hilarion is at the middle height of the three. It is, however by far the best preserved. The walls and towers appear to sprout off the rocks almost at random, giving the castle a fairy tale look. Indeed it is said to have inspired Walt Disney to use it as a design for the castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The castle is named after a little known hermit who fled Palestine during the 7th century to live and die up here, purging the mountain of pagan demons. It is said that the hermit was stone deaf, so was able to resist the tempting cries of the demons who stalked the mountains with ease. The demons finally admitted defeat, and left Hilarion and the mountain in peace. A Byzantine monastery, and later a fort sprang up around his tomb.
The Shipwreck Museum:
Located within Kyrenia Castle, the Shipwreck Museum displays a cargo boat which sank just off Kyrenia some 2300 years ago. It was discovered by a local sponge diver over 30 metres down in 1965, and was salvaged between 1967 and 1969 by marine archaeologists from the Pennsylvania University. It is the oldest shipwreck known, and carbon 14 dating indicates it was built in 389BC, around the time of Alexander the Great. The ship was built in the "shell first" manner, the opposite of today's method. Instead of building a skeleton of ribs first, her outer planking was built up from the keel, and then the ribs were laid in, being secured with copper spikes. The ship was intended for a long service and underwent many repairs. In the
last batch of repairs, a skin of lead sheeting was applied to her body to keep the ship waterproof. When she foundered, the ship had been in service for at least 8o years.