Kyrenia castle lies to the north east of Kyrenia town and stands at the entrance to the harbour at Kyrenia. The original castle which is thought to have been built in the 7th century A.D. by the Byzantines for the purpose of defending Kyrenia against arab raiders and pirates in the early 7th century. The castle has had various additions made to it during the reign of the Lusignans and was given its present form by the Venetians.
The castle was used by the Lusignan kings as a resting place in times of peace and as a place of shelter in time of war. The castle received great damage as a result of Venetian attacks in the fourteenth century A.D. It was captured by the Venetians in 1491 A.D. and was altered by them in accordance with their own defence plans towards the beginning of the Sixteenth Century A.D. During the Venetian rule two new towers were constructed taking into consideration the strength of Ottoman artillery.
But interestingly when the invasion of Ottomans did come, the castle was surrendered to them without any reistance in 1570 and remained in Ottoman hands for about three centuries. During the British Colonial administration it was used as a prison and police school.
Kyrenia Castle a brief description
The entry to the castle is through its north-west entrance which takes you to the entrance of the Lusignan castle following a vaulted corridor.Two Lusignan coat-of-arms over this wall were previously outside and were placed in the present position during the beginning of 20th century. Through a closed passage to the left of the corridor you enter the Church of St. George. The dome of this temple is made up of marble columns. This Church was previously outside the castle walls and was brought within the the fortified castle walls by the Venetians.
The castle also houses a Shipwreck Museum, which displays the remains of a 2,300 year old Greek ship and its cargo, recovered from the sea bed in the 1960s. The sailors apparently lived on almonds: thousands of them were recovered from the wreck.