Kantara Castle is the easternmost of the three castles situated on the Kyrenia Mountain range in the island of Cyprus. (The other two are Buffavento and St Hilarion) Lying at 630 metres above sea level, Kantara is well positioned to control the entrances to Karpass Peninsula and Mesaoria plain. The name 'Kantara' is derived from the Arabic word qantara, which means "bridge".It is believed that the Byzantines built the castle in the 10th century as a lookout post against raiding Arabs. The first historical mention of the castle is in connection with Richard the Lionheart's capture of Cyprus in 1191. At that time, Isaac Comnenus, the Byzantine ruler of the island, took refuge at Kantara Castle. Later, in 1228 the Royalists so badly battered the walls that they had to be almost entirely rebuilt. Later, the nobility used the castle as a lodge when they hunted mountain goats with tame leopards.There is also a myth widely believed, that workers who were building the castle, when time came to get paid for their hard work, were thrown by the queen at the time from the window of her room. It is widely believed that this was done because the queen did not have enough money to pay the workers. Eventually, she committed suicide by jumping from the same window.St. Hilarion supposedly visited the castle of Kantara in order to free the castle from the queen's evil spirit, that according to the villagers haunted the place. According to the myth, eventually St. Hilarion explained people that there are no evil spirits in castles but evil thoughts in people's hearts.Make Kantara Castle a centerpiece of your Trikomo vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Trikomo itinerary maker.
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Myself and three friends came in a hire car from Kyrenia. It was nice to leave the noisy and chaotic Kyrenia for the peace of the peninsula. We parked in Kantara village and walked the 2.5 miles, main... more »
Worth the drive for the amazing views and the history of the site. Be aware there is a climb up steep steps to the actual castle. more »
Visited Kantara Castle today and was impressed at both the location with such wonderful views and the condition. Only downside was a lack of information on site, a plan would have really helped. Defin... more »
Great view, lovely castle and the road from Famagusta... narrow steep and windy (great!) not for the faint hearted. Try the road from the other side, more user friendly. Only portaloo's up there and no food or drink facility. Enjoy!
It is very nice with fog and so much to see. Great!
Views. Spectacular views. Bit of a climb up stone steps to get to the top....not for those with mobility issues.
Great place for a walk and some of the best views on the island. Spectacular location!
Of the three crusader castles of Buffavento, St Hilarion and Kantara, Kantara lies furthest to the east. At 630m above sea level, it is also the lowest of the three. Some would say it is the least exciting, as it is easy to reach compared with the other two. However it has by far the best views, its summit standing on a pinnacle with views all round. The name "Kantara" in Arabic means a bridge or an arch. This is an appropriate name, as the castle is located at a point which bridges the mountain range and commands views of both the north and the south coasts. On a clear day, it is possible to see across both sides of the Karpaz peninsula, and on to the distant mountains of Turkey. In winter is sometimes possible to see the snows of Lebanon, over 160km away. Very little is known of the castle's early days. It is thought to have been built by the Byzantines, probably after the last of the Arab raids in the late 10th century. However there are no remains or records dating from that time. Its first mention was in 1191, during Richard the Lionheart's Crusade to the Holy land. It was at Kantara that the self-styled king, Isaac Commenos, sheltered before surrendering to the English King. We have much more information about the castle from the Lusignan and Venetian periods, which lasted from 1191 to 1571. In the 13th century, the castle was remodelled by the Lusignans, and during the next few hundred years, the castle often served as a shelter for defeated barons and kings. When the Genoese conquered Famagusta and Nicosia in 1373, Kantara remained undefeated in the hands of the King. It was here too, that Prince John, the king's brother, fled, disguised as a cook, after his escape from the Genoese. The story goes that the prince, having been captured in Famagusta with the rest of the Royal Family, was imprisoned in irons. With the aid of his faithful servant and cook, he escaped, dressed as the cook's scullion, with an old cooking pot over his head, and carrying a frying pan which he was supposedly taking to be re-tinned.
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