Saint Hilarion Castle

Kyrenia, Cyprus

The Saint Hilarion Castle is the best preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the others being Kantara and Buffavento. Saint Hilarion was originally a monastery, named after a monk who allegedly chose the site for his hermitage, with a monastery and a church built there in the 10th century. Starting in the 11th century, the Byzantines began fortification. Saint Hilarion formed the defense of the island with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara against Arab pirates raiding the coast. Some sections were further upgraded under the Lusignan rule, who may have used it as a summer residence. During the rule of Lusignans, the castle was the focus of a four-year struggle between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Regent John d' Ibelin for control of Cyprus.

The castle has three divisions or wards. The lower and middle wards served economic purposes, while the upper ward housed the royal family. The lower ward had the stables and the living quarters for the men-at-arms. The Prince John tower sits on a cliff high above the lower castle. The church lies on the middle ward. The upper ward was reserved for the Royals and can be entered via a well-preserved archway. Farm buildings are located in the west close to the royal apartments. Along the western wall, there is a breathtaking view of the northern coast of Cyprus, overlooking the city of Girne, from the Queen's Window.

Much of the castle was dismantled by the Venetians in the 15th century to reduce the up-keeping cost of garrisons.

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Founded: 10th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Cyprus

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tony Thomson (2 years ago)
Remarkable Castle build on the top of a hill, access through a military training ground so only open at fixed times. There is a lot to see & the views are amazing. Very worth a visit if your in the area.
Anders Holt Knudsen (2 years ago)
A magnificent masterpiece of early Knights Templar castles. It is very beautiful situated on top of the mountain with beautiful views over Kyrenia. It is possible to take your car up the mountain or climb it from the city. The hike can be recommended but it is tough and long. Admission is 7 lire or 5 for students as of 2019.
Julie R. (2 years ago)
Totally recommended. Cool views and cheap too. If you got the guts to go till the top you won't regret it.
Laura Valentina (3 years ago)
A castle ruin sightseeing attraction, very nice for a walk and have fresh air and view. Steps will be slippery after the rain. Go to the “peak” to see the soldier to get a photo on the highest point of the castle. Use comfortable shoes to enjoy the climb.
Linda Barwick (3 years ago)
Wow! Has to be seen to be believed! Breathtaking. It's a must for anyone staying in North Cyprus. Lots of steps! Be warned! Worth the effort though.
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Beckov Castle

The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.

The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.

The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.

The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.

Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.

The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.