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The bustling port town of Kyrenia is backed by a narrow band of mountains. Day-to-day life focusses on a horse-shoe shaped harbour filled with boats and yachts, all flanked by a water-side promenade with lively restaurants, bars, tavernas, and hotels.
It is an ancient place, founded according to legend at the end of the Trojan War by colonists from Peloponnese islands. It subsequently developed through maritime trade with Asia Minor and the Aegean islands. During its heyday, the port would have served scores of Greek and Turkish merchants and fishermen, seeing a significant portion of the island’s wheat, olives, cheese, butter, silk, and other finery pass through.
Kyrenia castle and its defensive seawall were built by the Romans in the Byzantine era – extensive catacombs are built into the structure and are the last resting place of the islands early Christians. The castle has subsequently passed through several hands, receiving extensive modifications under Venetian and Ottoman rule. Today it houses the shipwreck museum, with the remains of a 4th century Greek Ship extensively studied by the National Geographic Society.Read more
The region outside of Kyrenia is filled with history too. The Bellapais Abbey, perched on a terrace and considered one of the most beautiful and important gothic structures in the near east, was built between 1198-1205 by French Augustine monks. The ruined castle of a Buffavento was a built as a defence against Arab invaders and offers unrivalled views of Nicosia and the Troodos mountains in the south. Meanwhile, St. Hilaron is a particularly extensive complex which served as the royal Lusignan family’s summer residence.
There’s also plenty of nature along the coastline and in the mountains around Kyrenia. The Karpas peninsula is home to 350 species of bird, nesting turtles, rare flowers and orchids. There are good sandy beaches, historic towns and villages where you can make a base for hiking or cycling forays.