North Cyprus

Girne Harbour & Castle North Cyprus

Girne Harbour & Castle North Cyprus

Girne’s medieval harbour is one of the most picturesque in the Mediterranean and is busy with excursion boats, laced with wooden pontoons and bristling with masts. Kyrenia harbour itself is a horseshoe, with its western side dominated by the massive Venetian castle, while the harbour entrance is protected by a breakwater wall. The quay bustles with restaurants and small hotels, some in converted carob warehouses, others in newer modern buildings, with balconies, upper stories and canopied ground floors.


Girne Castle has a long and confusing architectural history, having been adapted, destroyed, rebuilt and improved so many times. The Byzantines first built a castle, perhaps on the remains of a much earlier structure around the tenth century AD. Rectangular in shape, it was reinforced and extended during the Lusignan period with the addition of living quarters and a moat. Its present form took shape from the Venetians in the sixteenth century with the addition of the west and south walls and the construction of three new bastions. The British once used the castle as a prison and as a police academy during the late 1950s, to incarcerate EOKA fighters.

Never taken by force (though it was almost destroyed by the Genoese in 1373), the castle did succumb to the Ottomans in 1570. It is said that the Venetian commander of the castle negotiated a truce with the Ottomans until it became clear how the siege of Nicosia turned out. When the Ottomans presented him with the severed head of his Nicosian counterpart, he promptly surrendered.




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