Welcome to Kyrenia!
The harbour town Kyrenia in North Cyprus is the most important tourist destination in the north of the island of Cyprus. Since the Turkish invasion in 1974 it is under Turkish rule. That’s the reason why the majority of the population consists of Turkish Cypriots and settlers from Turkey.
Kyrenia dates back to the end of the Trojan War. It was established by a military leader who came to this area and brought a lot of new settlers with him. In the 2nd century BC, it was said to be one of six Cypriot towns which were benefactors to the Oracle at Delphi. Over the centuries, the town has been under different reigns: the Greek, the Romans, the Ottomans and the British. In 1960 Cyprus became independent. From now on, the city prospered. Cultural and religious events were held and the city was undoubtedly the island's most precious jewel.
In 1974, the Turkish army invaded Cyprus east of Kyrenia. After they overthrew the local forces, they ethnically cleansed it of all its Greeks Cypriots, Maronite Cypriots, Armenian Cypriots and Latin inhabitants. Afterwards, Turkish and Turkish Cypriots moved to Kyrenia.
In Kyrenia, holiday makers will find everything the need for their perfect holiday: beaches, sea, historical buildings and a lot of sun. During the day the city with its 20,000 residents is relatively calm and therefore the best place to relax. During the night there are an array of opened restaurants and pubs that ring the changes on the night life.
Places to see near Kyrenia
If you are up to a day trip you should visit the capital Nicosia. It is only 25 kilometres away to the south and located in the “Green Zone” between the Turkish and the Greek part of the island. That is why half of the 400,000 residents are Greek and the other half is Turkish. Therefore, it is the only divided capital in the whole world. Both the South and the North part have many interesting buildings and places to offer where tourists like to go and get to know more about Cyprus’ complex history.
The maximum temperature from June to August is around 35 to 40 degrees so please prepare yourself for your visit there.
About 10 kilometres to the West of Kyrenia you can find a little town called Lapithos. Apparently it was founded in 3000 BC. The rich and fertile soil around the town allows the residents to cultivate a plethora of tree species. With a production of 11-12 million lemons per year it was the greatest lemon producer in Cyprus. The sweet scent can be perceived everywhere and adds a special flavour to the ambience and atmosphere there.
Those who love being in plane nature and enjoy a walk along the orchards should go there and spent a lovely day in Lapithos.
Famagusta is a habour town on the East coast of Cyprus. In the 13th century it became the wealthiest city of the eastern Mediterranean after the king of Jerusalem bought the island from King Richard the Lionheart. Many fortresses and the Othello-Tower (known from Shakespeare) were built afterwards. In 1330 the town reached its peak but Genoa and Venice in Italy emerged and got more and more influence in the Mediterranean area. In 1372, riots came up. The city was completely destroyed and all Genoese merchants were massacred. Today, 22 churches can still be visited but most of them are mere ruins.
Sights in Kyrenia
Pentadaktylos (Five Finger Mountains)
This mountain range is located west of Kyrenia and it is about 160 km long. In the Greek language it is called “Pentadactylos”, in Turkish it is called “Besparmaklar”. Both names refer to a mountain which looks like a hand with five fingers. Due to this shape there are lots of legends about these mountains which emerged hundreds of years ago.
The fortress dates back to Byzantine times. It was built in order to protect the harbour and the city. Once you were inside, you could withstand a long lasting siege. Nevertheless, the Ottoman ruler Lala Mustafa Pacha succeeded in taking over the city because the Venetian ruler surrendered. Today you can visit a War Museum and a 12th century chapel inside.
In the 19th century the city harbour was a flourishing trading centre. They exported wheat, olives, donkeys, goats and the carob, the most important export item of North Cyprus. Boats from Europe came in, importing wood, cheese, butter, vegetables and luxury articles such as buttons, furniture, silk and cotton. Today the harbour is used as a tourist attraction from where you can take a boat cruise to explore the shore.
Tomb of Hazreti Omer
The tomb of Hazreti Omer is located six kilometres to the East of Kyrenia. It was established in the seventh century during the Arab raids. If you visit this magnificent place you will have a wonderful view over the Besparmak Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The tomb is hidden so the atmosphere there is very calm and tranquil. People come here to pray or just to meet friends.
The tomb is one of the most popular religious sights to visit in North Cyprus, particularly during the Muslim month of Ramadan.
The Shipwreck Museum
The Museum is located in the fortress and shows a shipwreck which sunk in 300 BC. It was salvaged in 1967 and is very well preserved if you imagine that it was already more than 2200 years old and lay in water all that time.
Travel Tips for Kyrenia
1.Go to the beautiful beaches and try out some water sports you have never done before!
2.In July and August it gets very hot (above 30 degrees). If you prefer milder weather go there during the off-season.
3.Visit the Bellapais Abbey (Peace Monastery) to admire ancient Gothic architecture.
4.Definitely worth a visit: the Archangelos Church, the towns landmark.
5.There’s an ancient, Cypriot 18th century house displaying Cypriot popular art in the harbour.
6.The plains of “Chrysokava” were used as a cemetery during the Roman Empire.
Fun and Facts about Kyrenia
1.Kyrenia is home to the largest British expat community on the island .
2.The neolithic settlement Ayios Epiktitos Vrysi is located on a small ledge. It looks like it could fall into the sea at any time.
3.An US American built the first two hotels in Kyrenia in1922 and in 1932.
Find your ideal hotel in Kyrenia and enjoy your stay !