Kantara Castle in North Cyprus
Kantara Castle is the third of the major mountain fortifications erected along with the Kyrenia Mountain range by the Byzantines (see also St. Hilarion and Buffavento). It is definitely worth a visit, not only for its Gothic architecture and ambiance, but also for the spectacular views — from here, you can see both coastlines of the Karpaz Peninsula, reaching far to the east, and on a clear day, you can even see the mountains of mainland Turkey.
The first reference of Kantara fortress is in 1191 AD, when Richard the Lionheart seized Isaac Komnenos here, according to mythology. Lusignan Prince John, King Peter’s brother, is claimed to have sought refuge here from the invading Genoeser in 1373. James of Cyprus, his brother, later repaired the castle, and much of the original stone is still visible today.
The best way to get to the castle is to use the north coast road between Girne and Karpaz. On Kaplica, you will find a great, broad new road that runs down the shore, and you will be at the Karpaz crossroads in minutes. It is 4 miles from the village and fully labeled with a decent new road that leads you through a lovely picnic place to the castle parking. You can also get there from Gazimagusa (Famagusta) by taking a dizzying mountain route through Yarkoy and Turnalar, which veers off the eastern coast road right before Bogaz.