For the village in Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 see Keryneia, Greece
Keryneia, Greece
Keryneia is a Greek village located west of Corinth and Athens, north-northwest of Kalavryta and east of Aigio and Patras. The GR-9 Keryneia (Greek: Κερύνεια) is a Greek village located west of Corinth and Athens, north-northwest of Kalavryta and east of Aigio and Patras. The GR-9 Keryneia...

, For the ship see Kyrenia ship
Kyrenia ship
The Kyrenia ship is the wreck of a 4th century BC Greek merchant ship. It was discovered by Greek-Cypriot diving instructor Andreas Cariolou in November 1965 during a storm. Having lost the exact position Cariolou carried out more than 200 dives until he re-discovered the wreck in 1967 close to...


Kyrenia is a town on the northern coast of Cyprus, noted for its historic harbour and castle. Internationally recognised as part of the Republic of Cyprus, Kyrenia has been under Turkish control since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprus...

 in 1974. Once predominantly inhabited by Greek Cypriots
Greek Cypriots
Greek Cypriots are the ethnic Greek population of Cyprus, forming the island's largest ethnolinguistic community at 77% of the population. Greek Cypriots are mostly members of the Church of Cyprus, an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity...

, Kyrenia's population consists now largely of Turkish Cypriots
Turkish Cypriots
Turkish Cypriots are the ethnic Turks and members of the Turkish-speaking ethnolinguistic community of the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The term is used to refer explicitly to the indigenous Turkish Cypriots, whose Ottoman Turkish forbears colonised the island in 1571...

 and settlers from Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...


Prehistoric and ancient times

Kyrenia dates to the end of the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

 and it was founded by the Achaeans
Achaeans (tribe)
The Achaeans were one of the four major tribes into which the people of Classical Greece divided themselves. According to the foundation myth formalized by Hesiod, their name comes from Achaeus, the mythical founder of the Achaean tribe, who was supposedly one of the sons of Xuthus, and brother of...

, ancient Greek
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 colonists from the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 who established towns in the district. Evidence from archaeological sites excavated in and around the town of Kyrenia evidence settlement since the Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period, 5800
6th millennium BC
During the 6th millennium BC, agriculture spread from the Balkans to Italy and Eastern Europe, and also from Mesopotamia to Egypt. World population was essentially stable at approximately 5 million, though some speculate up to 7 million.-Events:...

-3000 BC
30th century BC
The 30th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 3000 BC to 2901 BC.-Events:* Before 3000 BC: Image of a deity, detail from a cong recovered from Tomb 12, Fanshan, Yuyao, Zhejiang, is made. Neolithic period. Liangzhu culture...

. Mycenaean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

 (Achaean) tombs dating from 1300
14th century BC
The 14th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 1400 BC until 1301 BC.-Events:* 1397 BC: Pandion I, legendary King of Athens, dies after a reign of 40 years and is succeeded by his son Erechtheus II of Athens....

-500s BC
500s BC
-Events and trends:* 509 BC– Overthrow of Roman monarchy, and beginning of Republican period. First pair of Roman consuls elected. Tarquinian conspiracy formed, but discovered and the conspirators executed. Forces of Veii and Tarquinii, led by the deposed king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus defeated...

 and geometric artefacts have also been discovered. A fine climate, fertile soil and an abundance of water offered ideal conditions for the town's early settlement.

Cepheus, King of Tegea
In Greek mythology, Cepheus was the son of Aleus and Neaera or Cleobule, and brother of Amphidamas, Lycurgus of Arcadia, Auge and Alcidice. He and his brother Amphidamas are counted among the Argonauts....

 from Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

 is believed to be the founder of the town of Kyrenia. A military leader, he arrived at the north coast of the island bringing with him many settlers from various towns in Achaea
Achaea (ancient region)
Geographically, Achaea was the northernmost region of the Peloponnese, occupying the coastal strip north of Arcadia. Its approximate boundaries were to the south the mountain range of Erymanthus, to the south-east the range of Cyllene, to the east Sicyon, and to the west the Larissos river...

. One such town, located near present-day Aigio
Aigio is a town and a former municipality in Achaea, West Greece, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Aigialeia, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. Its population is around 30,000. Aigio is surrounded by trees in the north and cliffs in the...

 in the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

, was also called Kyrenia. East of Kyrenia lays the "Coast of Achaeans". It was at Kyrenia, according to Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, that Teucer
In Greek mythology Teucer, also Teucrus or Teucris , was the son of King Telamon of Salamis Island and his second wife Hesione, daughter of King Laomedon of Troy. He fought alongside his half-brother, Ajax, in the Trojan War and is the legendary founder of the city Salamis on Cyprus...

 came first ashore, to found the ancient Kingdom of Salamis
Salamis Island
Salamis , is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, about 1 nautical mile off-coast from Piraeus and about 16 km west of Athens. The chief city, Salamina , lies in the west-facing core of the crescent on Salamis Bay, which opens into the Saronic Gulf...

 after the Trojan war.

The earliest reference made to the town of Kyrenia is found, together with that of the other seven city kingdoms of Cyprus, in Egyptian scripts
Hieratic refers to a cursive writing system that was used in the provenance of the pharaohs in Egypt and Nubia that developed alongside the hieroglyphic system, to which it is intimately related...

 dating from the period of Ramesses III
Ramesses III
Usimare Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE...

, 1125
1120s BC
-Events and trends:* 1126 BC—Thymoetes, legendary King of Athens, dies childless after a reign of 8 years. He is succeeded by his designated heir Melanthus of Pylos, a fifth-generation descendant of Neleus who had reportedly assisted him in battle against the Boeotians.* 1122 BC—Legendary founding...

-1100s BC
1100s BC
-Events and trends:* 1104 BC—Foundation of Cadiz, Spain.* 1100 BC—Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria conquers the Hittites.* c. 1100 BC—The Dorians invade Ancient Greece....


From its early days of settlement, Kyrenia's commerce and maritime trade benefited enormously from its proximity to the Asia Minor
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 coast. Boats set sail from the Aegean islands
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

, traveled along the Asia Minor coast, and then crossed over the short distance to the northern shores of Cyprus to reach the two city kingdoms of Lapithos
Lapithos or Lapethos is a town of Kyrenia District on the northern coast of Cyprus. According to Strabo, the settlement was founded by Spartans. In Assyrian inscriptions, Lapithos is mentioned as one of the eleven Cypriot kingdoms. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians...

 and Kyrenia. This lively maritime activity (late 4th or early 3rd century BC) is evident in an ancient shipwreck discovered by Andreas Kariolou in 1965, just outside Kyrenia harbour. The vessel's route along Samos
Samos Island
Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by the -wide Mycale Strait. It is also a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional...

, Kos
Kos or Cos is a Greek island in the south Sporades group of the Dodecanese, next to the Gulf of Gökova/Cos. It measures by , and is from the coast of Bodrum, Turkey and the ancient region of Caria. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Kos peripheral unit, which is...

, Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

, the Asia Minor coastline and then Kyrenia, demonstrates the town's close maritime relations with other city kingdoms in the eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...


During the succession struggle between Ptolemy
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

 and Antigonus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus , son of Philip from Elimeia, was a Macedonian nobleman, general, and satrap under Alexander the Great. During his early life he served under Philip II, and he was a major figure in the Wars of the Diadochi after Alexander's death, declaring himself king in 306 BC and...

 that followed Alexander the Great's death in 323 BC
323 BC
Year 323 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Longus and Cerretanus...

, Kyrenia was subdued under the rule of the kingdom of Lapithos that allied itself with the Antigonid dynasty
Antigonid dynasty
The Antigonid dynasty was a dynasty of Hellenistic kings descended from Alexander the Great's general Antigonus I Monophthalmus .-History:...

. Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

(19.79) observes that in 312 B.C. Ptolemy arrested Praxipos the king of Lapithos and the king of Kyrenia. Once the Ptolemies
Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

 were successful in dominating the whole island, all city kingdoms were abolished. Kyrenia however, because of its maritime trade, continued to prosper. In the 2nd century BC, it is cited as one of six Cypriot towns which were benefactors to the Oracle at Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, that is, it received its special representatives who collected contributions and gifts. The town's prosperity at this time is also evident from its two temples, one dedicated to Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and the other to Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, and from the rich archeological finds dating from the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

 excavated within the present-day town limits.

The Romans succeeded the Ptolemies as rulers of Cyprus and during this time Lapithos became the administrative centre of the district. The numerous tombs excavated and the rich archeological finds dating from this period indicate however, that Kyrenia continued to be a populous and prosperous town. An inscription found at the base of a limestone statue dating from 13-37 AD, refers to ‘Kyrenians Demos' that is, the town's inhabitants. Here as everywhere else, the Romans left their mark by constructing a castle with a seawall in front of it so that boats and ships could anchor in safety.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 found fertile ground in the area. The first Christian martyrs used the old quarries of Chrysokava, just east of Kyrenia castle, as catacombs
Catacombs, human-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place can be described as a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman empire...

 and cut-rock cemeteries which are considered among the island's most important specimens of this period. Later, some of these caves were converted into churches and feature beautiful iconography, the most representative of which is that found at ‘Ayia Mavri.' From these early days, the town of Kyrenia was an episcopal see. One of its first bishops, Theodotus, was arrested and tortured between 307-324, under the reign of Licinius. Though the persecution of Christians officially ended in 313, when Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 and his co-emperor, Licinius
Licinius I , was Roman Emperor from 308 to 324. Co-author of the Edict of Milan that granted official toleration to Christians in the Roman Empire, for the majority of his reign he was the rival of Constantine I...

, issued the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan was a letter signed by emperors Constantine I and Licinius that proclaimed religious toleration in the Roman Empire...

 which mandated toleration of Christians in the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 and freedom of worship, Theodotus martyrdom and persecution only ended in 324 and it is this event that the Church annually commemorates on March 2.

Middle ages

With the division of the Roman Empire into an eastern
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and a western empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, in 395 Cyprus came under the Byzantine emperors and the Greek Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

. The Byzantine emperors fortified Kyrenia's Roman castle and in the 10th century, they constructed in its vicinity a church dedicated to Saint George
Saint George
Saint George was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. In hagiography Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic , Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox...

, which the garrison used as a chapel. Then, when in 806, Lambousa was destroyed in the Arab raids, Kyrenia grew in importance because its castle and garrison offered its inhabitants protection and security. Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus
Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus
Isaac Komnenos or Comnenus , was the ruler of Cyprus from 1184 to 1191, before Richard I's conquest during the Third Crusade.-Family:He was a minor member of the Komnenos family. He was son of an unnamed Doukas Kamateros and Irene Komnene...

, the island's last Byzantine governor, sent his family and treasures to the castle for safety in 1191 when King Richard I of England
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 went to war with him and became the island's new master.

Richard's rule was not welcomed in Cyprus so he sold the island first to the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

, and then in 1192, to Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan was a Poitevin knight, son of Hugh VIII of the prominent Lusignan dynasty. He was king of the crusader state of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1192 by right of marriage to Sibylla of Jerusalem, and of Cyprus from 1192 to 1194...

. Under Frankish rule
Kingdom of Cyprus
The Kingdom of Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom on the island of Cyprus in the high and late Middle Ages, between 1192 and 1489. It was ruled by the French House of Lusignan.-History:...

, the villages of the district of Kyrenia became feudal estates and the town became once again the administrative and commercial centre for its region. The Lusignans enlarged the castle, built a wall and towers around the town, and extended the fortifications to the harbour. They also fortified the Byzantine castles of Saint Hilarion, Bouffavento and Kantara, which, together with Kyrenia Castle, protected the town from land and sea attacks. Kyrenia castle played a pivotal role in the island's history during the many disputes among the Frankish kings, as well as the conflicts with the Genoese
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

. On numerous occasions the castle came under siege, but it never capitulated.

In 1489, Cyprus came under Venetian rule
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

. The Venetians modified Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia Castle , at the east end of the old harbour in Kyrenia is a 16th-century castle built by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification. Within its walls lies a twelfth-century chapel showing reused late Roman capitals, and the Shipwreck Museum.-History:Kyrenia has been inhabited...

 to meet the threat that the use of gunpowder and cannons posed. The castle's royal quarters and three of its four thin and elegant Frankish towers were demolished and replaced by thickset circular towers that could better withstand cannon fire. These new towers, however, were never put to the test. In 1571, the castle and the town surrendered to the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...


Ottoman rule

Under Ottoman rule
Cyprus under the Ottoman Empire
The Eyalet of Cyprus was created in 1571, and changed its status frequently. It was a sanjak of the Eyalet of the Archipelago from 1660 to 1703, and again from 1784 onwards; a fief of the Grand Vizier , and again an eyalet for the short period 1745-1748.- Ottoman raids and conquest :Throughout the...

, Kyrenia district was at first one of four, then one of six, administrative districts of the island and the town remained its administrative capital. The town's fortunes declined however as it was transformed into a garrison town. The Christian population was expelled from the fortified city, and no one was allowed to reside within the castle other than the artillerymen and their families. These men coerced the town's inhabitants and those of the surrounding villages, Christian and Muslim alike, with their arbitrary looting and crimes. The few local inhabitants who dared to stay were merchants and fishermen whose livelihood depended on the sea. They built their homes outside the city wall, which through time, neglect and disrepair, turned to ruin. The rest of the inhabitants moved further out to the area known as Pano Kyrenia or the ‘Riatiko' (so called because it once belonged to a king) or fled further inland and to the mountain villages of Thermeia
Thermεia is a village in the Kyrenia District of Cyprus, presently within the de-facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.Thermεia or Doğanköy is an ancient village located to the south-east of Kyrenia and is now a suburb of that town. George Jeffery reports that the village was a Çiftlik, an...

, Karakoumi, Kazafani, Bellapais
Bellapais is a small village in the Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, about four miles from the town of Kyrenia. The village was the home for some years of Lawrence Durrell, who wrote about life in Cyprus in his book Bitter Lemons. He mentions passing the time drinking coffee under the Tree of...

 and Karmi.

The town revived again when bribes and gifts paid to local Turkish officials caused them to permit local maritime trade with Asia Minor and the Aegean islands to resume. In 1783, the church of Chrysopolitissa was renovated. Then in 1856, following the Hatt-i Humayun
Hatt-i humayun
Hatt-i humayun , also known as hatt-i sharif , is the diplomatics term for a document or handwritten note of an official nature by an Ottoman Sultan. The terms come from hatt , hümayun and şerif...

, which introduced social and political reform and greater religious freedom for the various peoples of the Ottoman Empire, the church of Archangel Michael was rebuilt on a rocky mount overlooking the sea. At about this time, many of the Christian inhabitants of the surrounding villages re-established themselves in the town. Local agriculture and maritime trade, particularly the export of carobs to Asia Minor, allowed the people of Kyrenia to have a comfortable living, and some even to educate their children and pursue other cultural activities.

British rule

In 1878, following a secret agreement between the British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and Ottoman governments, the island was ceded to Great Britain as a military base in the eastern Mediterranean. At first, Great Britain did not undertake major administrative changes, so Kyrenia remained the district's capital. A road was constructed through the mountain pass to connect the town to the island's capital, Nicosia
Nicosia from , known locally as Lefkosia , is the capital and largest city in Cyprus, as well as its main business center. Nicosia is the only divided capital in the world, with the southern and the northern portions divided by a Green Line...

, and the harbour was repaired and expanded to accommodate increasing trade with the opposite coast. The town's municipal affairs were put in order and the municipal council took an active role in cleaning and modernizing the town.

In 1893, a hospital was built through private contributions and effort. By the first decade of the 20th century, Kyrenia was a buzzing little town with a new school building, its own newspaper, social, educational and athletic clubs. It was also a favoured vacation spot for many wealthy Nicosia families. Many homes were converted into pensions and boardinghouses and in 1906, the first hotel, "Akteon", was built by the sea.

These first decades of British rule however, also saw increased economic hardship for the population. High taxation, frequent droughts and a world economic depression were precipitating factors for a mass exodus of people from the town and district, first to Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and then to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


In 1922, the episcopal see of Kyrenia relocated back to the town after the completion of a new metropolitan building. That same year, the Greco-Turkish war
Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922)
The Greco–Turkish War of 1919–1922, known as the Western Front of the Turkish War of Independence in Turkey and the Asia Minor Campaign or the Asia Minor Catastrophe in Greece, was a series of military events occurring during the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I between May...

 brought to a halt all trade with the opposite coast causing a serious economic depression.

Costas Catsellis, a young repatriate from the USA, came to the rescue by building the town's first modern hotels, the ‘Seaview Hotel' in 1922 and the ‘Dome Hotel' in 1932. Kyrenia's mild climate, picturesque harbour, numerous archeological sites, panoramic views that combined sea, mountains and vegetation, coupled with modern amenities, soon attracted many travellers and Kyrenia's economy revived through tourism.

After the Second World War, more hotels were built and the town remained a favoured vacation spot for people from Nicosia and foreign travellers alike. To the town's Greek and Turkish inhabitants were added many from Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 who chose Kyrenia as their permanent place of residence.

Cyprus independence

In 1960, Cyprus gained its independence from Great Britain. However, the intercommunal conflict that broke out in 1963-64 between the island's Greek and Turkish population again eroded Kyrenia's prosperity. While skirmishes in Kyrenia were minimal, the Turkish Resistance Organisation did blockade the Kyrenia-Nicosia road and occupy Saint Hilarion castle.

Despite these difficulties, the 1960s and early 1970s was a period of lively cultural and economic activity. A new town hall was built and a Folklore Museum established. The ancient shipwreck already alluded to was reassembled, together with all its amphorae and cargo, and permanently exhibited at the castle. The number of new hotels and tourists multiplied and a new road was constructed in the early 1970s connecting the town to Nicosia from the east. The town's cultural activities greatly increased. Other than the many traditional cultural and religious fairs and festivals annually celebrated, flower shows, yachting races, concerts and theater performances were organized. Kyrenia, the smallest of Cypriot towns, was undoubtedly the island's most precious jewel.

The town's inhabitants, Greek, Turk, Maronite
Maronite Church
The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome . It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th...

, Armenian
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Latin and British peacefully coexisted and cooperated in their daily affairs and the town had grown beyond its two historic neighbourhoods of Kato (Lower) Kyrenia and Pano (Upper) Kyrenia. It expanded towards the mountain slopes to form the new neighbourhood of "California", and eastward it had just about reached the outskirts of Thermia, Karakoumi and Ayios Georgios.

Turkish invasion

In 1974, there were 47 villages in the district of Kyrenia. Greeks and Maronite Cypriots constituted 83% of the total district's population, Turkish Cypriots constituted 15% of the total district's population. On July 20, 1974, the Turkish army invaded the island of Cyprus landing at 5-Mile point, east of Kyrenia town. Gaining ground against the local forces it reached the town of Kyrenia on 22 July 1974 during the UN-sponsored cease fire. The Turkish forces occupied the town and subsequently and methodically ethnically cleansed it of all its Greeks Cypriot, Maronite Cypriot, Armenian Cypriot and Latin inhabitants. Subsequently, Turkish Cypriots from elsewhere in Cyprus and settlers from Turkey moved in, with the result that the town's ethnic make-up is predominantly Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot. The town remains to this day under Turkish occupation.


Kyrenia has a Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 with long, dry and hot summers and cool winters with mixed weather of sunny spells and rain.


In its heyday, just before the British occupation of the island in 1878, Kyrenia harbor was a quiet, often ignored, port between Cyprus and mainland Turkey. From there local caique
The Caiques are species of parrots in the genus Pionites. There are two main species, the White-bellied Parrot and the Black-headed Parrot . They are relatively small and stocky, with a short, square tail. Due to their very brght, pure colors they are considered among the more beautiful parrot...

s, Greek owned, Turkish owned and even Turkish-Greek owned, conducted a thriving trade. Depending on the season, they exported wheat and olives, donkeys and goats and much more. Larger boats, mostly from Europe, arrived in the late fall and early winter to take in the crop of carobs, the main export item of the area. The caiques brought in wood, earthenware, legumes, cheese, butter, and even small luxuries items such as silk and cotton cloth, buttons and odd pieces of furniture. Slowly, two storied buildings emerged around the harbour as the owners used the lower floor as warehouses and the second floor as their residences.

The town's trade with the Anatolian coast and beyond the Levant sea was badly affected when in 1885, the then British government of the island began the Kyrenia harbor works that left the harbor wide open to the northern gales. Slowly, over the next decades, scores of caiques were wrecked within Kyrenia harbor, with their owners often unable to recover from the loss.

Kyrenia harbor is currently a tourist resort. Tour boats cruise the coast, skillfully avoiding military camps and trash dumps on the shore.


Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia Castle
Kyrenia Castle , at the east end of the old harbour in Kyrenia is a 16th-century castle built by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification. Within its walls lies a twelfth-century chapel showing reused late Roman capitals, and the Shipwreck Museum.-History:Kyrenia has been inhabited...

 at the east end of the old harbour is a spectacular site. The castle dates 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
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 capitols, and a shipwreck museum. Huge round towers that the Venetians built in 1540 AD occupy the corners. These strengthened the castle against artillery.

The town has an icon museum housed in a church that had beendedicated to the Archangel Michael. Not far from it there are some tombs cut into the rock dating from about the 4th century. Behind the harbour are the ruins of a small Christian church, and in the harbour is a small tower from which a chain could be slung to close the harbour to any enemies. The Anglican Church of St. Andrews is behind the castle, close to the bus station, and is open all year round.

Bellapais Abbey (from the French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 "abbaye de la paix" which means the Peace Monastery), in the northern village of Bellapais, was constructed between 1198-1205. The main building as it can be seen today was built during the 13th century AD by French Augustinian monks, and specifically during the rule of King Hugh III
Hugh III of Cyprus
Hugh III of Cyprus , born Hughues de Poitiers, later Hughues de Lusignan , called the Great, was the King of Cyprus from 1267 and King of Jerusalem from 1268 . He was the son of Henry of Antioch and Isabella of Cyprus, the daughter of Hugh I...

 1267-1284. The pavilions around the courtyard and the refectory were constructed during the rule of King Hugh IV
Hugh IV of Cyprus
Hugh IV of Cyprus was King of Cyprus from 31 March 1324 to his abdication, on 24 November 1358 and, nominally, King of Jerusalem, as Hugh II, until his death...

 between 1324-1359. You can also see the Ancient Greek Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 Church of Mother Mary Robed in White.

Outside the town, on the Kyrenia mountain range
Kyrenia mountain range
The Kyrenia Mountains are a long, narrow chain of mountains that runs approximately along the north coast of Cyprus. The mountains are primarily limestone, with some marble. The highest mountain, Kyparissovouno, is in elevation. The western half of the range is also known as the Pentadactylos...

, one can see Buffavento Castle
Buffavento Castle is located in Northern Cyprus. It means in Italian “Defier of the Winds”. The winds can reach quite high speeds in its exposed location at 950 metres above sea level....

, St. Hilarion Castle
St. Hilarion Castle
The Saint Hilarion Castle lies on the Kyrenia mountain range, in Cyprus. It was originally a monastery, named after a monk who allegedly chose the site for his hermitage. Later fortified by Byzantines, it formed the defense of the island with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara against Arab...

 and Kantara Castle
Kantara Castle
The Kantara Castle is the easternmost of the castles situated on the Kyrenia mountain range in Cyprus. Laying at 630 metres above sea level it is well positioned to control the entrances to Karpass Peninsula and Mesaoria plain....

, all of which are thought to have been constructed by the Byzantines following the Arab raids on the island. During Lusignan
The Lusignan family originated in Poitou near Lusignan in western France in the early 10th century. By the end of the 11th century, they had risen to become the most prominent petty lords in the region from their castle at Lusignan...

 rule, Buffavento Castle was a prison and called 'Chateau du Lion'. There the despot Byzantine king of the island, Isaac Comnenus, is said to have fled after Richard the Lion Heart conquered Cyprus in 1191. The mountaintop castle of St. Hilarion dominates the town of Kyrenia and is visible for many miles along the coast. Historical records show that the castle was originally a monastery, founded about 800 when a monk by the name of Hilarion chose the site for his hermitage. Later, perhaps in 1100 AD, the monastery was changed into a castle. The easternmost of the three castles is Kantara castle. Sources only make mention of the castle in the year 1191, when Richard Lion-Heart captured the island.


Besides the 5* hotels, there are 4 main beaches in Kyrenia
  • Escape In Escape, there is a big restaurant for lunch, a bar which has all kind of beverage and coctails, lounges on grass (in front of the bar and rastaurant, lounges on sand (in front of the grass side and rear of the sea). A lot of lounges and wide sand and grass area provides no fear for finding place for sunbathing or swimming. Parasailing, jet ski, banana and some other water sports are also served in Escape.

  • Ice Ice beach places near Escape, almost same of it. Ice returns to a disco after 22.00. Live music in the afternoon, restaurant and bar are also provided.

  • Kervansaray Kervansaray beach is like a public beach where can gone for swimming. Lots of restaurants and bars are also included.

  • Denizkızı Denizkızı is a sheltered bay perfect for water sports including windsurfing, water skiing, and much more.

It should be noted that, beaches are stipendiary.

Notable people

  • Charlotte of Cyprus
    Charlotte of Cyprus
    Charlotte , was Queen of Cyprus and Princess of Antioch, as well as titular Queen of Jerusalem and Armenia.She was the eldest and only surviving daughter of King John II of Cyprus and Helena Palaiologina. At the age of 14, she succeeded to the Cypriot throne upon the death of her father in 1458...

    , Queen of Cyprus grand daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor.
  • Costas Ch. Catsellis, (1888-1976) hotelier and Kyrenia town benefactor. Proprietor of the Sea View Hotel and the Dome Hotel put Cyprus on the tourist map.
  • Savvas Christis, (1887-1973) lawyer and author.
  • Demetrios Gr. Demetriades, (1861-1923) district court judge in Pafos, Nicosia, Larnaca and Kyrenia. Kyrenia town mayor; Registra of the Kyrenia District Court (1883-1905). Translated into English with C. R. Tyser and Omar Hilmi Effendi "A Treatise on the Laws of Evqaf" (1899), and with C. R. Tyser and Ismail Haggi Effendi the "Mejelle" (1901) as well as into Greek with Ioannis Economides "The Statue Laws of Cyprus, 1878-1906."
  • Charilaos D. Demetriades, (1890-1967), lawyer and Kyrenia town mayor.
  • Demetrakis Gr. Demetriades, District Court Judge, Kyrenia and Nicosia (1961-1978), Supreme Court Judge (1978-1997).
  • Niovi Demetriadou Frangou, (1912-2009), a tireless educator. Founded in 1934 the Kyrenia English High School.
  • Patriarch Peter VII of Alexandria
    Patriarch Peter VII of Alexandria
    Petros VII was the Greek Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa from 1997 to 2004.-Biography:...

     was born in Sichari,near Dhikomo.
  • Mehmet Ali Talat
    Mehmet Ali Talat
    Mehmet Ali Talat is the former President of the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. He was the leader of the left wing Republican Turkish Party . He became prime minister in 2004, and subsequently won the Presidential election held on 17 April 2005...

    , the 2nd President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
    Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
    Northern Cyprus or North Cyprus , officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , is a self-declared state that comprises the northeastern part of the island of Cyprus...

    , was born in Kyrenia on 6 July 1952.
  • Peter Andre
    Peter André
    Peter James Andrea , better known by the stage name as Peter Andre, is an English-born Australian musician, singer-songwriter, television personality and businessman. As a recording artist, he has achieving four top 10 UK albums and ten top 10 singles.-Early life:Andre was born at Northwick Park...

    , pop singer, hails from Chartzia in the Kyrenia region. His grandfather was a cantor in the now destroyed Archangel Michael church.
  • Patriarch Gregory II of Constantinople
    Patriarch Gregory II of Constantinople
    Gregory II of Cyprus was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1283-1289.His name was originally George. His parents were middle class but of noble origin. He moved to Nicosia as a teenager seeking further education...

     was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1283-1289. This title is the equivalent of the Pope
    The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

     to Eastern Orthodox Christians. He was born in the town of Lapithos
    Lapithos or Lapethos is a town of Kyrenia District on the northern coast of Cyprus. According to Strabo, the settlement was founded by Spartans. In Assyrian inscriptions, Lapithos is mentioned as one of the eleven Cypriot kingdoms. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians...

     in Kyrenia.
  • Laventios of Kyrenia On July 1821, along with the head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church Archbishop Kyprianos, together with 486 prominent Greek Cypriots, amongst them the Metropolitans Chrysanthethos of Paphos, Meletios of Kition and , were executed by hanging or beheading by the Ottomans in Nicosia.
  • Pantelis Kyriakides The vice president of the European Patent office. After working as an electronics engineer he joined the UK Patent Office in 1976, before transferring to the European Patent Office (EPO) After being Principal Director in the technical fields of mechanics and electricity/physics, he was appointed Vice-President of the EPO
    -Organizations:*EPO Gaming An Entertainment Poker Company based out of Austin, TX*EPO , a Belgian publishing company*European Patent Organisation or its main organ the European Patent Office, a public international organisation...

     at the end of 1999.
  • Dr Panos Ioannou Scientist
  • Michael Photiou, J Supreme Court Judge appointed 2004 born in Ayios Amvrosios Cyprus.
  • Praxander
    In Greek mythology, Praxander was the founded of Keryneia in Cyprus and was also the king.It is said that an ancient poet Lycophron, was an Achaean from the Achaean city of Keryneia along with the brother of Cepheus and settled and founded Keryneia in Cyprus...

    (Greek: Πράξανδρος Praxandros) was the founded of Keryneia and was also the king.


The city has two universities: Girne American University
Girne American University
Girne American University is located in Kyrenia, a city in the northern area of Cyprus. The university was founded in 1985 as an independent, non-profit institution of American-style higher education. Today, GAU is an international university with campuses in Cyprus, Singapore, UK and US.On-line...

, which is also called GAU and the American University - Kyrenia/Cyprus, and the University of Northern Virginia
University of Northern Virginia
The University of Northern Virginia or UNVA is an unaccredited for-profit private undergraduate and graduate university located in Northern Virginia. Founded in 1998, the university offers bachelors, Masters and doctoral degrees. The school's Virginia locations include Annandale, Manassas, and...


External links

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