St. Hilarion Castle, constructed of stone, blends in with the rocky landscape of Cyprus. Constructed of 3 different parts, you can explore the lower and upper enceinte along with Prince Johns Tower all linked by steep staircases and complete with tunnels and hidden rooms, you’re sure to have an adventure! .
It’s rumored that the castle was inspiration for Walt Disney in his creation of Snow White. Folk legend also says the castle once has as many as 101 rooms and a secret internal garden belonging to a fairy queen could be found of the last of these rooms. .
The castle was actually named after a monk who fled persecution and lived in a cave overlooking the Kyrenia plain. In the 10th century, a church and monastery were built over his tomb and used as a watch tower and beacon during the Arab raids of the 7th and 8th centuries. .
In 1191, the castle was seized and extensively expanded and used as a military outpost and a summer residence of the Lusignan court. Later, during Venetian rule, the castle was neglected and fell into disrepair. In 1964, an underground Turkish nationalist group, took control of the castle and has been in Turkish Cypriot hands ever since. .
Enter the main gate and follow the path up to where a drawbridge used to be.
Here you’ll find remains of the church, barrack rooms, four-level royal apartments and a large cistern, vital to the storage of water. Follow a paved winding track up to the Lusignan Gate, guarded by the Byzantine tower. That opens on to the central courtyard, adorned with more royal apartments, kitchens and ancillary chambers.
One final climb will take you to Prince John’s Tower. On clear days, you can see the Taurus Mountains, 100km away in Turkey.
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