Kyrenia Old Harbor.
Today the Girne Harbor counts as one of the most remarkable and most visited place in the whole island. Kyrenia, a town on the northern coast of Cyprus, noted for its historic old harbor, and castle. Kyrenia is split into two neighborhoods (Lower) Kyrenia and (Upper) Kyrenia. It is an entrancing city to visit in an excursion into the deeper recesses of island.
Relaxing atmosphere and numerous cafes and restaurants makes it more attractive and leaves big impressions on the tourists who visit it.
Kyrenia Castle, marking the east end of the old harbor is a spectacular site, going back to Byzantine times and has served the Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans, and British. Within its walls there is a 12th-century chapel containing reused late Roman capitols, and a shipwreck museum. The sunken ship was found in 1965 by a local diver. The investigations had shown that it was built in 389 BC during the reign of Alexander the Great and sank around 2300 years ago. In 1975 the Shipwreck Museum was opened inside the Castle.
Huge round towers that the Venetians built in 1540 AD occupy the corners. This castle and royal summer palace, named ‘Dieu d’Amour’ by Frankish knights, has extravagantly crenellated walls and towers tumbling over the craggy hilltop, evoking a fairy-tale vision of bygone chivalry.
Outside the town, a number of eye-catching, even magnetic, sites located on the mountains with three ancient castles on the Kyrenia mountain range, one can see Buffavento and Kantara Castles as well as St. Hilarion Castle, all of which were probably constructed by the Byzantines for safety against Arab raids. The mountaintop castle of St. Hilarion dominates the town of Kyrenia and is visible for many miles along the coast, making it a popular tourist attraction on the island. – including churches and monasteries, the most famous of them being the monastery of St. Barnabas, the monastery of the Holy Apostle Andrew and an iconic museum housed in a church once dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
Kyrenia Harbour is a small but charming place, where you will find everything from calming ambience and soothing atmosphere to beautiful views and stunning surroundings. The harbour is particularly enchanting in the evenings, when you can enjoy the gentle breeze and the beautiful views combined with unique charm and a lively atmosphere. The harbour is filled with yachts and boats, and the landscape is somewhat dominated by the fascinating Kyrenia Castle. At Kyrenia harbour, you will find the beautiful sea stretching out ahead of you, and the breathtaking mountains providing a stunning backdrop. This harbour is a major tourist attraction in Cyprus.
We will then head for Belapais’s Abbey, to one of the most remarkable samples of the artistic skills of the Eastern Mediterranean. Bellapais Abbey, or “The Abbey of Peace”, is the ruin of a monastery built by Canons Regular on the northern side of the small village of Bellapais, now in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus. In 1570, depredatory Turks destroyed a large part of the abbey. The remains were preserved in the covered gallery around the monastery, basements and the Gothic church of Panayia Asproforussa (Virgin Maria of the white vestments).
What to See at Bellapais Abbey
The Tour guide will take you around the palatial Bellapais Abbey. The Gothic abbey church has a flat roof and a quaint belfry above the entrance. Just one bell remains in place. The remains of a 15th- century Italian mural can be seen in the porch.
The history of Bellapais Abbey is spell-binding. It is the main attraction of the picturesque village of Bellapais, some 13 km south of Kyrenia. It is built on a rock escarpment with a cliff on the north that drops more than 30m straight down and is illuminated at night. The main entrance is on the south side, through a fortified gateway that has replaced a former drawbridge. You approach the abbey through a promenade of palm trees that lend an exotic touch to the European-style ruins.
The site of Bellapais may have been the early residence of the Bishops of Kyrenia, as well as their refuge during the Arab raids of the 7th and 8th centuries. In 1187, Jerusalem fell to the Saracens and the Augustinian canons who had custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre came to Cyprus. Bellapais Abbey was founded for them around 1200 by Aimery de Lusignan. It was consecrated as the Abbey of St. Mary of the Mountain. The Augustians were soon followed by the White Canons or the Norbertines (also known as Premonstratensians), and this was the rule that was adopted from 1206 onwards. Their white habits gave Bellapais one of its names— it is referred to as the ‘White Abbey’ in 15th and 16th century documents.
Inside, the church has a wide nave with two aisles, a square choir and a sacristy. Several Lusignan kings are thought to be entombed beneath the floor. Remaining decorations include an intricately carved pulpit, the bishop’s throne, and five restrained chandeliers.