Kantara Castle is the third of the great mountain fortresses originally built by the Byzantines along the Kyrenia Mountain range (see also St. Hilarion and Buffavento). It is well worth a visit, not only for its Gothic architecture and atmosphere, but also for the amazing views – from here you can see both coasts of Karpaz Peninsula, stretching far to the east, and on a clear day the mountains of mainland Turkey are visible.
The first mention of Kantara castle dates from 1191 AD then, the legend, Richard the Lion heart captured Isaac Komnenos here. Lusignan Prince John, brother of King Peter is said to have hidden out here from invading Genoeser 1373. Later, his brother, James of Cyprus, restored the castle and much of the original stone remains still today.
The easiest route to the castle lies along the north coast road from Girne to Karpaz. On Kaplica, climbs a nice, wide new road along the coast and within minutes you have completed the 6 kilometres to the Karpaz intersection. From here it is clearly signposted with a good new road which takes you past a great picnic spot to the castle parking, 4 km from the village. You can also approach from Gazimagusa (Famagusta), veer off the eastern coast road just before Bogaz, and follow a dizzying mountain road, through Yarkoy and Turnalar. After about half an hour of fast driving (there are no speed cameras) you will reach Kantara village.
Photography by Petter Koubek