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Home > Going Out > Historical Places > Famagusta > Kantara Castle

Kantara Castle

Out of the trio castles, Kantara positioned in easternmost side, is said to be the most romantic as well as the lowest one poised at the spot where the Kyrenia range subsides into rolling hills.

How to get there

CyprusKantara castle is situated 26 miles north of Famagusta. If travelling from Kyrenia, Kantara is the most distant castle to reach and a whole day should be put aside for this trip. The distance is approximately 45 miles (72.4 km) from Kyrenia. While reaching the destination, you are accompanied by picturesque scenery of distinct features. If you follow the main Famagusta road out of Kyrenia take the turning left which is signposted "Esentepe", "Taltlisu", "Acapulco" and "Alagadi Green Turtles Beach". Spanning the coastline, you can enjoy the agricultural landscape covered in vegetables and fruit. If you start from Bogaz it is at least 45-minute drive. From Kaplica on the coast, the ascent route to Kantara is narrow but quite driveable and there are regular passing places along the way. Do not rely on public transport as there is any to reach the castle directly.

Practical info

Cyprus Once you enter the castle, you get a ticket with a useful map and spotted history outlined on it. The castle tour should take you an hour or so with time spent enjoying the views. If you are visiting the castle with children, beware of keeping them from serious unfenced drops, rough scrambling and uncapped holes. Take camera, binoculars, walking stick and bottle of water with you and remember to do not forget to wear proper stout shoes.

Opening hours: Summer 10.00 - 17.00, winter 9.00- 14.45
Admission: appr. YTL 4.00

Castle name

Kantara castle got its name derived from the Arabic quantara, which means "arch" or "bridge", although it is hard to pinpoint such a structure in the surrounding landscape.

Castle history

CyprusSupposedly Kantara is reckoned to be the place where Isaac Komnenos surrendered to Richard the Lionheart in 1191, similarly like Buffavento and St Hilarion. Struggling to seize the island, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II with his troops occupied the castle during 1228-30. Kantara figured prominently in the war during the Genoese invasion, when the regent John of Antioch was smuggled out of prison in Famagusta disguised as a pot-tinner. The fortifications to the caste were added by James I and from the vantage point his garrison was able to keep watch over Famagusta and the surrounding area. After the Venetian invasion in 16th the castle was partially dismantled and its significance faded. Kantara which is set on a rocky summit at the eastern end of the Kyrenia range is the lowest of the castle trio. However, it has tremendous view of the Karpaz peninsula, all along the northern coastline and down to the plain to Famagusta. From this position it was used as a beacon station to communicate with Buffavento and St Hilarion to the west.

Castle tour

CyprusThe castle is entered through a barbican that is flanked by a pair of towers, the north tower and the south tower . Then you can go on climbing the steps to the inner ward. If you stop here, there is a massive southeast tower, with its lower part - a cistern which occasionally doubled as a dungeon . Further along the southeast wall are the barracks , a trio of rooms fitted with loopholes. Next to these are the latrines that were once flushed by the castle's sophisticated plumbing system, and also garrison and a water cistern . Up to this point the buildings are in good conditions, down to the woodwork and ceilings, the castle survives in ruins until the southwest corner of the battlements, where one chamber contains a hidden postern gate used to catch would-be attackers by surprise. Passing the inner bailey, or returning to the southeast tower, you can reach the northern tower. Both the towers feature a significant peace of military design with two long galleries equipped with arrow slits and joined by a square chamber. Of the highest watchtower , that would be lit to alert the residents of any danger, just one wall and a Gothic window exists. Surprisingly, the northern bastion is impressively complete.

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