|St. Hillarion Castle on top of distant mountain|
|Kyrenia Castle, a/k/a Girne Castle|
|Glenn outside Kyrenia Castle|
The three of us must not have been very bright this particular day. We walked completely around this large castle searching for the entrance. Never found it. The walls were unbroken completely around this big structure; no entrances, not even window openings in the stone walls.
We then decided to walk around the adjacent old Venetian Harbor on the western side of the castle.
There we found a tourist information office and the kind gentlemen directed us to the castle entrance -- at an upper level.
|Judy outside Kyrenia Castle|
|Old Venetian Harbor|
|Sidewalk cafes around old Venetian Harbor|
|Looking down from top of castle wall|
During Roman times the area was granted a relatively large amount of autonomy, allowing Cyprus to develop along its own lines. Girne was Christian even before Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule the importance of the port for access to markets in Asia Minor helped the city grow in both stature and status.
|Collapsed Roman seawall extension|
Looking down from the top of the castle wall, we could see the remains of an extension of the harbor wall that had been built by the Romans. That extension has long-since collapsed but is still visible beneath the surface of the water. Also, nearby are some Greco-Roman rock graves.
|Inside castle courtyard|
After a short period, King Richard sold the island first to the Templar Knights. Then shortly afterward King Richard sold the island to his cousin Guy de Lusignan, the former King of Jerusalem. Thus began the Frankish Lusignan rule of Cyprus which lasted for about 300 years (1192 to 1489). The Lusignans divided Cyprus into feudal states.
|Way down to the dungeons|
Initially the castle was fairly small. It was first enlarged between 1208 and 1211 during the reign of King John d'Ibelin. Its main purpose was military, which was reflected in the buildings and functions of the castle. Using the Byzantium style of fortification, a new entrance was added. Also added were a square, several horseshoe-shaped towers, strongly built embrasures for archers and several dungeons.
|St. George Church inside castle today|
During this period, thick fortified walls were built adjoining and encasing the original castle and walls. Wide embrasures for cannons were built.
|Dome of St. George Church; old Venetian Harbor|
When renovations to the castle were completed, the walls of the castle also encompassed the small church of St. George. The church of St. George is thought to have been built by the Byzantines during the 1100s.
|On top of castle wall|
One of the tourist brochures claims that all additions made by the Ottomans were destroyed during the British colonial rule.
Another of the tourist brochures claims that after the British took over the administration of Cyprus in 1889 they attempted to improve and renovate Girne harbor with the idea to increase trade and shipping. However, it was difficult for the harbor to shake off its reputation as a 'ship-wrecker.' When one sees how destructive winter northerly winds can be in this area it is easy to understand how this harbor came by this reputation.
|Inner courtyard top level Kyrenia Castle|
The British took control in 1889 and remained in control of Cyprus until 1960. During this time the castle was used as a prison and a police academy for new recruits. Since 1960, it has been open to the public.
|One of several 'modern' artillery mounts on top of castle walls|
However, between 1963 and 1974 the castle was used mainly for military purposes by the Greek Cypriot army. Mounted on top of the castle walls are several stands for automatic weapons used by the Greek Cypriot army. Since 1974 the Department of Antiquities and Museums of The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has been responsible for all aspects of the castle's preservation and use.
|Ancient cistern inside castle|
|Inside tiled cistern|
One thing we found particularly interesting is that inside the huge courtyard of the castle there is a large underground water cistern. This answered our question as to what in the world the people on this island did for fresh water.
|Exterior opening to cistern|
|Shoot arrows through this narrow slit|
|Archers must have been short|
|No idea what this was|
|2300 year old sunken Phoenician merchant ship|
|Close-up of strakes|
|Cross view replica of how ship was loaded|
The ship was 15 meters in length and was constructed of Aleppo pine. The wooden surface of the ship was coated with a strong lacquer to protect it against Mediterranean wood-boring maggot.
|Replica section showing lead covering hull|
The hull was also covered with vertical lead panels. We thought these were copper, but the signs stated the panels were lead. These also were to protect the wooden hull from marine growth, worms and maggots.
|Amphoras salvaged from wreck|
Cargo on this final voyage that was found still with the shipwreck included 400 large amphoras (storage vases), 29 basalt millstones and 9000 almonds. Finding the almonds was a big deal because scientists can learn much about ancient crops and insects by testing these almonds. About 300 lead weights found with the wreck indicate that the ship was also used for fishing. Or, at least the crew did some fishing, even if just for their own needs.
|salvaged cargo of almonds|
We got a real kick out of one of the statements on a sign in the museum. The marine archaeologists determined that this ship had a crew of 4 during her final voyage. They determined the number of crew based on the number of drinking cups found with the wreck. Also by the number of wooden spoons found with the wreck. Excuse me? Because only 4 cups and 4 spoons are found with a 2300 year-old wreck one assumes that there were only 4 persons aboard? That is faulty logic. Wooden spoons could have easily been separated from the wreckage during the past 2300 years. And to assume that the crew numbered 4 because there were 4 cups is quite a stretch. Bill and I very often share a single drinking cup during passages. It is easier than having 2 cups or glasses sliding around in the cockpit, so we share a single glass. Does that mean there is only a crew of 1 on our boat? Or, if one wanted to count all the drinking glasses on our boat, would that mean to a future marine archaeologist that there was a crew of 22 on our boat? Maybe there was a crew of 4 on this old ship. But it is a stretch to arrive at that number of crew simply based on the fact that only 4 drinking cups were found with the wreck.
The ship was built in 389 B.C. and was about 80 years old when it sank. To put this in perspective for our non-sailing friends, this Phoenician merchant ship is just a bit more than 3 feet shorter in length than S/V BeBe.
I was frankly amazed that there were several wooden blocks or pulleys that had survived this long at the bottom of the sea. Diagrams were provided indicating how this tiny ship was rigged. The illustration below shows where this single-sheave block was used to hold and trim sails
More photos later emailed to us from Glenn:
|Kyrenia Harbor -- The old Venetian Harbor|
|Glenn in arrow shooting space Kyrenia Castle|