Even though Nicosia was a bit of a letdown, there was one thing which impressed me. Nicosia is a divided city after all. One part belongs to the Republic of Cyprus and the other to the Turkish Republic of Cyprus. Since Berlin we all know that divided cities don’t really work out in the end. So let’s hope for the best here as well, and that this turns out the same sometime in the future. In the meantime we crossed the border into the Turkish part.
It was easy to follow the road and get to the bus station. The small collective bus to Kyrenia (or Girne as the Turkish call it) leaves when it is full and the price can be paid in EUR or TRY. Do yourself a favor and get some Lira. It’s about half the price in the official currency.
Kyrenia has two main attractions, the castle and the port. It’s therefore convenient that the castle overlooks the port.
To really appreciate the structure of the castle you probably need a guide to tell you more details. But there was also a most interesting exhibition. It was about a boat which had sunk before the coast. This merchant ship from the Roman time had sunk with all its load and, good for us, it had carried many amphorae.
Once you are on the Turkish side don’t miss St. Hilarion Castle which is on a pass on the way from Nicosia to Kyrenia. I think there might be a bus from Kyrenia but it’s way faster and easier to take a taxi. This Byzantine castle was fought over by the Crusaders ended up being used by the Venetians as a building material site. But what’s left is still magnificent.
From below you can’t even recognize that this is a castle at all. Only when you come closer the structure reveals itself.
What you see here is only one side. The castle is built on three different levels and it takes about 45 exhausting minutes to get to the top (ballerinas are definitely not the best footwear for this hike, but it’s manageable). But once you are on top you feel exhilarated. You have made it and the view is spectacular! There is even a knight waiting for you who congratulates your achievement of coming up!
Of course if you already get a taxi for St. Hilarion Castle then negotiate the price also for the Bellapais Abbey (I think it was about 35USD all together). The ruins of this monastery from the 13th century is only about 5km from Kyrenia and best done on your way back to the city. There is still a lot left of the monastery, including the church. And even though the building is mostly in ruins you can see that it must have been spectacular. Yours, Pollybert