|St. Hilarion Castle way up there
|St. Hilarion Castle from lower level Sec 1
Looking down at Girne one can easily spot Kyrenia Castle, which we visited last autumn when Glenn Martin visited us. Kyrenia Castle is a very large castle; but when viewed from the top of St. Hilarion Castle, it looks very small.
|Only entrance--on 2nd level
|Church in St. Hilarion Castle
|Find big Kyrenia Castle down by the sea?
|Steep steps way up
|Rest break to breathe again
|Still stepping up
|First level inside barbican of St. Hilarion Castle
|2nd level St. Hilarion Castle
|3rd level St. Hilarion Castle up there
The biggest tragedy of this castle was that of Prince John of Antioch, brother of Peter I, king of Cyprus in the early-to-mid 1300s. Prince John and his family moved to the castle to be protected from the Genoese attacks. His sister-in-law Queen Eleanor despised Prince John, believing him responsible for the assassination of her husband King Peter. She convinced Prince John that his Bulgarian mercenary bodyguards were secretly plotting against him. Prince John called his guards in one-by-one and dropped them off the highest point of the castle, at a spot now known as Prince John Tower. Afterwards, Queen Eleanor invited Prince John to dinner at the palace in Nicosia. His advisers pleaded with him not to attend because he had no bodyguards (having thrown them all off the castle). He went anyway and was stabbed to death by servants under the orders of Queen Eleanor. (Please note that this is Queen Eleanor of Aragon, not to be confused with Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine who lived 300 years earlier in a completely different part of Europe.)
St. Hilarion Castle is constructed of 3 main sections built in different levels. The first and lowest section was built for soldiers and castle workers. It contains cisterns, stables and other utilitarian structures. The barbican that protects the main entrance has been fortified with horseshoe shaped towers. Beneath the entrance supposedly sits a plain semi-circular area where the kingdom weaponry was held. We did not see this area.
The second level consists of a church, the royal apartments and hall, the kitchen, another cistern, a pantry , workshop, barracks, rudimentary Middle Age toilets, and rooms for the castellan (the guy who organized all the workers and soldiers and ran the castle). The entrance could only be reached through a large closed door and a bridge that could be pulled up. The 10th century Byzantine church dominates the eastern side of this level and has interesting architecture.
|Castellon Room in St. Hilarion Castle
|2nd level kitchen, St. Hilarion Castle
|One of many towers St. Hilarion Castle
|Never found the royal apts.
|Prince John Tower
|Looking down from Prince John Tower
I opted to take the extremely steep steps to the left and out to the isolated Prince John Tower. Entrance into the tower is impossible as there is no floor inside. Wish they had put that on a sign at the bottom of the steps and saved me the effort of getting all the way up and out there.
|Abandoned Greek tiny church
On the long drive back eastward to the marina we stopped at one of the abandoned little Greek churches. Like all the others on this side of the island, it had been looted and vandalized.
|Inside abandoned Greek church
|Rear of tiny church
|Ruins of several nearby bldgs
Bill says he is now 'castled out.' When we toured SE Asia he got 'templed out.' Another friend told me that by the time she left the Med she was 'ruined out.' I am not sure how many more castles I will be able to drag Bill to see. For that matter, I'm not sure how many more I am physically able to climb to see. This one really wore me out and my legs hurt for days afterward. There is one more that I would like to see about 50 miles from Alanya Turkey. Maybe by the time we get over there Bill will have forgotten how tired he is of seeing old castles and I will have forgotten how sore my legs got and how my heart pounded climbing those steep steps. Surely we can visit just one more.