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Kyrenia - North Cyprus
Nicosia Kyrenia Famagusta
Antiphonitis Monastery:
This beautiful and remote monastery built in the twelfth century is worth visiting not only out of historical interest, but also for its impressive forest location. The church within the monastery is in particularly good condition, although some of the Byzantine murals have been removed or demaged. Please be aware that a sturdy vehicle is needed on the road to the monastery.
Bellapais Abbey:
The exquisite Gothic building in the beautiful mountain village of Bellapais was built by Augustinian monks in 1205 AD. and was known as ‘Abbey of Our Lady of the Mountain'. The name Bellapais comes from the Greek word Episkopia (meaning bishopric). The Franks, unable to pronounce the word accurately referred to the building as “Lapais” . In time the Abbey came to be known as “Abbeye de la Paix”.
Buffavento Castle:
At an altitude of 954 meters, Buffavento, which means “wind defying”, has an apt name. Along with St. Hillarion and Kantara the castle was built by the Byzantines to ward off Arab attacks. The Lusignans, during their rule, extended and further fortified the castle, but tended to use the castle as a prison rather than a military stronghold. The Venetians, finding they had little use for the castle dismantled and abandoned it. Although there is relatively little left of the castle structure, a walk to the castle from the road below is a rewarding experience giving amazing views of the Girne mountain range to the east and west, the sea to the north, and the central plain to the south.
Girne Castle:
This breathtaking castle sits at one end of the picturesque Girne Harbour. The orginal foundations were lain in the seventh century A.D., although the castle was further extended and fortified by both the Lusignans and the Venetians. As a defensive structure Girne Castle was highly effective in preventing invasion of the town, that is. Until the Ottomans invaded in 1571 when the town, not wishing to suffer as Lefkosa and Gazimagusa had, surrendered.
Lambusa and Lapta:
At the ruins of the ancient city of Lambusa remains have been found proving inhabitance as far back as Neolithic times. There is also evidence of continued settelement during Phoenician and Prolemy ascedance in Cyprus. But it seems that the town developed and grew in terms of wealth and stature during Roman and early Byzantine times. That is at least partly suggested by the Byzantine name lambusa, which means lighter shining.
During the seventh century A.D. repeated Arab raids forced the inhabitants to abondon the town and relocate further inland in Lapta.
St. Hillarion Castle:
This fairytale castle, said to be Walt Disney's inspiration for the film “Fantasia”, occupies the mountain-top that overlooks Girne. Originnally the site of the castle was the abode of a hermit name Hillarion upon which a monastery was later built in his honour. The building was later fortified by the Byzantines and castle existed in conjunction with Kantara and Buffavento, along the northern coast, with the aim of deterring attacks from seafaring Arabs.