Visit Saint Hilarion castle for stunning views across North Cyprus.
Saint Hilarion Castle
This is an absolute MUST-DO whether you plan to visit Kyrenia for a week or just the day.
The castle is steeped in history and while there are many steps to climb if you want to appreciate the full extent of the castle's three different sections, this is one climb that is truly worthwhile.
Commonly referred to as Kyrenia castle, mainly as tourists can't remember the name, Saint Hilarion has the most impressive architecture of all the castles in Cyprus. It forms part of a chain of castles built on the top of high peaks to protect the Cypriots from invading Arabs between the 7th and 10th centuries.
The castle was built during this time and was certainly there when Richard the Lionheart visited Cyprus in 1191. Over the years, Saint Hilarion castle was developed by many including the Lusignans who loved the cool air in the garden areas in the centre of the castle, almost on the top peak.
When the Venetians invaded in 1489, the castle was left empty.
This most beautiful of North Cyprus attractions has three sections, the first at the bottom for soldiers and workers; the second housed a church and some royal apartments plus a hall, kitchen, barracks and toilets. Finally the third uppermost section, accessible only by steep stairs, housed the upper royal rooms complete with gothic style windows, plus the cool shaded gardens.
The top peak is 732m from sea level and offers spectacular views across the coast and towards the Pentadactylos range of mountains. (see the above picture)
Tip: Allow at least 1.5 hours to walk around, up and down Saint Hilarion castle and to take pictures. Best time to visit is in the autumn or spring when it is not too hot or set off really early on a summer's day.