Kyrenia Castle is one of the most famous landmarks on the Republic of Cyprus. Combining the architectural styles of 2 empires, it is a stronghold to the island nation’s rich culture and history.
Kyrenia Castle is located in the harbor area of Kyrenia, a town on the northern shore of the island of Cyprus. Public transportation in Kyrenia isn’t too good, so it is preferable to travel around town on a rental car.
What to See There
A bridge straddling over a moat leads up to the northwest entrance of Kyrenia Castle. Entering the first gate, there is an arched corridor that lies to the northwest of the Venetian-built fortified wall, leading to the Lusignan castle entrance. To the corridor’s left, there is a passage that leads to the Church of St. George, marked by a cross from the Early Byzantine Period. In the Lusignan castle’s entrance corridor is the tomb of Admiral Sadik Pasha, who had conquered the town of Kyrenia in 1570 AD. In the inner courtyard of the castle, the north, east and west portions of the yard hark back to the Lusignan Period, while its southern portion is of the Byzantine Period. A room off the courtyard displays artifacts from different archaeological sites, and the courtyard’s northern end there is a café and a souvenir shop. Kyrenia Castle is also home to the Shipwreck Museum, which exhibits the massive well-preserved remains of a 4th century Greek merchant ship.
It is believed that the original citadel upon which Kyrenia Castle would eventually be built was first constructed during the 7th century by the Byzantine Empire. The earliest historical reference to the castle was in 1191 AD, when the King of England, Richard the Lionheart, captured it after conquering the island of Cyprus and defeating its ruler Isaac Commenus. During the Lusignan Period, the initially small castle was enlarged by John d’Ibelin between 1208 and 1211, using it as a military fortress. It would again be renovated in 1540 by the Venetians, who further enlarged it and finally gave it its current form. In 1570, the castle was handed over to the Ottoman Empire, which would have control over it for about 3 centuries. When the British Colonial administration took over, the castle was turned into a prison and police training school. It also served as a military headquarters for the Cypriot National Guard from 1963 to 1967. Since 1974, the castle has been under the jurisdiction of the Girne Department of Antiquities and Museums.
Kyrenia Castle’s entrance fee for adults is 3.60 Euros, while students can get in for 0.80 Euros.
Kyrenia Castle is open from 9 AM to 6:30 PM in the summer time, and from 9 AM to 4:30 PM in the winter season.