The city of Kyrenia History & Facts
History & Facts
The city of Kyrenia
The Kyrenia district lays in the northern centre of Cyprus and is the smallest city in the country. The city of Kyrenia is actually comprised of two cities; Kato Kyrenia which extends around the small port and Ano Kyrenia which extends to the south. The Kyrenia landscape stretches from the Acrotiri of Cormatiki to the Acheous bay, including the largest area of the Pentadaktylos mountains. Kyrenia consists of an old town with cobblestoned streets, a horseshoe-shaped port and a 12th-century castle fortress. The ancient Kyrenia Castle is a large fortification with a dungeon accessible by a stone bridge.
Kyrenia is one of the most ancient cities on the island however it is often overlooked in comparison to other regions of Cyprus. The city is currently unoccupied because it is controlled by the defacto Turkish occupied area, (after the 1974 Turkish invasion). The surviving residents of Kyrenia had to flee due to the the tragic events of the invasion.
Today the city sits north of the Greenline. Pre 1974 Kyrenia held a marvellous ancient past. The region was inhabited by the Acheous Greeks since 1,300 B.C. According to ancient Greek Mythology Kyrenia was founded by Kifeas and Praxandros upon their return from the Trojan War. The heroes named the town Kyrenia after their own town in Achaia.
Kyrenia alongside neighbouring Lapithos, were one of the most important Greek kingdoms of Cyprus. Kyrenia from this time forward flourished. The Byzantines protected the region during the 11th and 12th Centuries. The city fortress that protects the small port was protected by both the Franks and Venetians during their rule of Cyprus. The port still stands strong today. During the Frankish period (1192-1489), Kyrenia and its north port were strategic locations as it helped to stop German Emperor Frederick B. invading Cyprus between 1210 – 1233, and the Genouates in 1374.
In 1570 Kyrenia surrendered to the Ottoman Empire without a fight shortly after the Ottomans seized the capital of Nicosia. During the time of the Ottoman Empire (1570 – 1878) Kyrenia and Cyprus as a whole were in a state of decline. During the British rule (1878 – 1960) Kyrenia experienced slight improvements including small upgrades to the port.
After Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, Kyrenia began to improve rapidly, especially in the tourism sector. The Pentadaktylos Mountain range, beautiful beaches and ancient monuments were all reasons that tourism rose rapidly.
One of the most significant attractions in Kyrenia is an ancient Greek trade ship dating back to the 4th Century BC. The ship wreck was discovered in 1967. It was pulled up and placed at the city fort for all to see. The shipwreck became known internationally as the “Kyrenia Ship.”
Some other attractions to see include important temples of the region; the temple of Archangel Michael the saint located in Kato Kyrenia, and the temple of St George in Ano Kyrenia including numerous other religious sites.
After the 1974 Turkish invasion, mainland Turks subsequently settled in Kyrenia, and hotels were reopened for the tourist trade. Today Kyrenia is unoccupied by its lawful citizens but open by the defacto Turkish occupied area for illegal tourism.