Kyrenia has been populated since ca. 5800–3000 BC, it is traditionally accepted that the city was founded by Achaeans from the Peloponnese after the Trojan War. As the town grew prosperous, the Romans established the foundations of its castle in the 1st century AD. Kyrenia grew in importance after the 9th century due to the safety offered by the castle, and played a pivotal role under the Lusignan rule as the city never capitulated.
Kyrenia is a cultural and economical centre, described as the touristic capital of Northern Cyprus. It is home to numerous hotels, nightlife and a port. It hosts an annual culture and arts festival with hundreds of participating artists and performers and is home to three universities.
The Bellapais Abbey and Lawrence Durell
- Located at the foot of the Beşparmak Mountains to the east of Girne where it fascinates visiting tourists from all over the world with its unique gothic styled architecture and astonishing scenery
St. Hillarion Castle
- Best-preserved of North Cyprus’s Crusader castles.
- Hilarion Castle is said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle, perched high in the mountains overlooking Kyrenia, appearing to rise out of the rocks themselves.
Kyrenia Castle and Shipwreck Museum
- Kyrenia Castle dominates the entrance to Kyrenia’s picturesque harbour which acts as a standing guard over the port. First built in Roman times, Kyrenia Castle was later fortified by the Byzantines and enlarged by the Lusignans.
- Shipwreck Museum has many interesting displays showing the history of Cyprus.