The ancient Greek writer Homer started the Lambousa, along with Salamais and Paphos, was founded by Achaeans returning from the Trojan Wars around 1200 years B.C.E. The ph’losopher Strabo in the other hand, claimed that it was founded by the Spartan King Praxandros around the same time. Yet another tale relates that the city was founded by Belus, King of Tyre, in the 8th century B.C.E as a Phoenecian colony. During the proto-christian period and Byzantine Period, Lambousa moved to its present site by the sea from whence it gained great wealth partly also because of its port and its shipyard.

During the christian period it was also the centre of one of the 14 Bishoprics. During this period it was given the name Lambousa, meaning “shining”, maybe because of its shining wealth. it is thought the city fell into ruin as a result of either Arab pirate raids or due to earthquakes. It is related that tales of Lambousa’s wealth attracted Arab raiders who laid siege to the city in the year 654 A.D In return for their lives and freedom to leave the city unmolested the Arabs demanded the inhabitants surrender their possessions and jewelery. However, subsequent archaeological excavations appear to reveal that the Lambousans, instead of surrendering their possessions to the raiders, hid them in walls and ceilings.

During the Lusignan and Venetian Periods. Lambousa was known under the name Le field de la Pison and was the property of a wealthy feudal lord. It was during the Lusignan Period that Lambousa was abandoned by its inhabitants who left to found nearby Lapithos. In the 18th century, a section of Lapithos was split off to form a new village. Karavas, the present day Alsancak, and the ruins of the ancient city of Lambousa were utilised to supply stones fro the construction of the new village. This led to the disappearance of much of the ancient city.

Today, amongst the features of Lambousa that can be seen are the Akhiriopietos Monastery (6th-16th century), the St. Evlalios Church (16th century), the Queen’s Bath, remains of the city walls and carved funerary chambers.


Buffavento Castle

Buffavento Castle is situated on the top of the Five Finger Mountains range at a heught of 950 metres. It was built as a defence against Arab raids and as a signals post. It has been variously known as “The Lion Castle” and “The One Hundred and One Houses”. During the Lusignan Period (1192-1489) it was used as a prison and this is when it was known as “The Lion Castle”. The name Buffavento was given to it by the italians and means “Defier of the Winds”. An ancient myth relates that there were 101 rooms in the castle and that whosoever passes through the door of the lost  101st room would inherit a treasure.

buffavento castle cyprus

The lowest part of the castle was probably built by Byzantines in the 11th century. The base was expanded by the Lusignans in the 14th century. It is not regular in shape as it makes use of the mountain itself for its defense. During the Venetian period Buffavento, like the other mountain strongholds of St. Hilarion and Kantara, fell into disuse as the costal castles of Cyprus, such as Kyrenia and Famagusta, became more important for the defence of Cyprus.

Another tale related to the castle tells of a Byzantine princess who, suffering from leprosy had retreated to the castle. Her dog also suffered from the same disease and one day the princess noticed that the skin of her dog had begun to heal. Following him she saw the animal bathed in a spring far below the castle. She did the same and was cured. In gratitude, she founded the Monastery of Ayios loannis Chrysostomos at the spot near the water source.

Places to Visit in Kyrenia

  • Kyrenia Castle and Sunken Shipwreck Museum
  • The Old Harbour 
  • St. Hilarion Castle and the Five Finger Mountains
  • Bellapais Abbey 
  • Buffavento Castle in the Five Finger Mountains 
  • The Church of the Archangel Micheal and the Icon Museum 
  • The Sourp Magar Armenian Monastery at Alevkayasi 
  • The Ruins of the Roman city of Lambousa, Lapta 
  • The Temples of Pighades, Camlibel 
  • The Akdeniz Tombs 
  • The endemic flora of Cyprus, orchids and rare plants in the Alevkayasi area and the Alevkayasi Herbarium
  • The Karaoglanoglu War Graves and Martyrs Museum
  • The Blue House, Camlibel

Things to do in Kyrenia

  • Pay a visit to the Eastern Mediterranean’s most magnificient example of gothic architecture at the Bellapais Abbey.
  • See St. Hilarion Castle, one of the Kyrenia mountain range’s three legendary and enigmatic castles and the inspiration for Walt Disney’s fairy castle in his film of  “Sleeping Beauty”.
  • At St. Hilarion marvel at the awe-inspring view of Kyrenia and Northern coast of Cyprus, from the Queen’s Window situated at 732 metres above sea level.
  • Visit the Herbarium at Alevkayasi where you can see the collection of all plant species endemic to Cyprus including rare species. Take part in an “Orchid Trail Walk”. The best time for this is from January to May.
  • Take a first hand at one of nature’s wonders; the hatching of turtles at Alagadi Beach. The months of July, August and September are the most suitable for this most unforgettable of experiences. You gave the chance to watch Caretta Caretta and Chelonia Mydas(Green Turtle) hatchlings’ first randezvous with sea.
  • Take a trip back in time with a visit to see the remains of the 2300 year old sunken trading vessel in the Ancient Shipwreck Museum inside Kyrenia Castle.
  • Take a pleasant stroll through the lanes and paths of the English village of Karmi(Karaman) nestled on the mountainside overlooking Kyrenia. All the streets carry the name of the flowers which are so abundant here.
  • Discover the underwater wealth of Kyrenia region by taking a dive at the one of the many diving spots.
  • For lovers of golf the course to the east of Kyrenia possesses perhaps the best views of any course in the Mediterranean.
  • Between the months of Fabruary and May a climb to the peak of Buffavento Castle will elevate your spirit. 
  • There are ample possibilities to join some of many walking or bird watching tours that regularly take place. 

Situated between the Five Finger Mountains(The Northern Range) and the Mediterranean Sea, Kyrenia is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and evocative cities of the Mediterranean. It is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches the length of its coastal strip and also possesses the greatest concentration of touristic facilities. In terms of its geographical location, its history and its natural beauty as well as the enchanting Mediterranean Sea, Kyrenia is truly blessed. Beyond the coastal littoral upon which the town stands lies the mountain chain through which a narrow pass allows passage to the interior of the island.

Kyrenia is truly the perfect place for relaxing holiday. Without doubt, one of the town’s most evocative places is the old horseshoe shaped harbour which has become the symbol of the city. Here, the old buildings of the Venetian, Ottoman, and British Colonial, periods and the delightful restaurants, bars and small hotels offer tourists an unrivalled atmosphere of charm and fascination. And, as if not already beautiful enough, during the summer months Kyrenia bursts into colour with the vibrant hues of its fishing boats and yachts.

From the historical perspective, Kyrenia offers its visitors immense riches; Amongst the must see places are the historical harbour, Kyrenia Castle and the Ancient Shipwrecked Museum housed within it, St Hilarion Castle and Bellapais Abbey.

On the fringe of the historical harbour stands the imposing Kyrenia Castle. It is the largest and the best preserved castle in all of Cyprus and bears the indelible traces of the Byzantine, Lusignan and Venetian periods. One inside the castle visitors can see the Lusignan Dungeons, a recreation of the Vrysi Neolithic Settlement, The Akdeniz Village Tomb, The Kirni Village Tomb, The Lusignan and Venetian Towers and, of course, the Mediterranean’s second oldest recovered sunken trading vessel in the Ancient Shipwreck Museum.

All of these features; The castle and the harbour, as well as the most beautiful example of Gothic architecture in Cyprus at the Bellapais Abbey, and all its other attractions put Kyrenia at the very heart of North Cyprus’s tourism industry.

Situated in the foothills of the Five Finger Mountains, The Bellapais Abbey, built in the early XIII century, is the Eastern Mediterranean’s  finest example of Gothic architecture. The English writer Lawrence  Durell, who wrote his novel “Bitter Lemons” relating his experiences whilst sojourned in Cyprus, bought and restored a house in Bellapais village.


Useful informations about North Cyprus

Where are the tourist information offices?

There are various tourist information offices in North Cyprus:
Kyrenia – in the Old Harbour
Lefkosa – by Kyrenia Gate
Famagusta – the Land Gate (the main entrance to Famagusta old town)
Ercan Airport – located inside the airport

Do I need to bring a plug adaptor?

Most electrical plugs in North Cyprus are the 3 pin type, the same as in the UK.
Occasionally, three to two pin adaptors are necessary, however this is quite rare nowadays.

What bank holidays / religious festivals are there?

North Cyprus observes the religious holidays of Islam and like the religious holidays in the Christian Church they are moveable feasts.

Ramadan is a period of fasting followed by three days of feasting called Kurban Bayram (feast of the Sacrifice). The date of Ramadan changes each year.Other major holidays are:

New Years Day, January 1st.

Children’s Day, April 23rd.

Labour Day, May 1st.

Youth and Sports Day, May 19th. Peace and Freedom Day, July 20th.

Communal Resistance Day, 1st August.

Victory Day 30th August.

Turkish National Day, 29th October.

Independence Day 15th November, (proclamation of TRNC in 1983).

What currency does North Cyprus use?

The currency in North Cyprus is the Turkish Lira, which has a constantly fluctuating exchange rate. For this reason, shopkeepers and restaurant owners are fully conversant with all major currencies and bills can be paid in UK Sterling, Euros and US Dollars as well as local currency.

If you change your money into Turkish Lira in North Cyprus, you will generally get a much better exchange rate than you would otherwise get in the UK.There are many money exchange bureaux in all of the major towns. Major UK Credit and Debit cards are widely accepted, and can be used in cash machines, however you should ensure that you inform your bank before you travel so that they do not block your card. You should also enquire about charges to use your card abroad.

Travellers Cheques as well as Scottish banknotes are not widely accepted in North Cyprus and changing them can be very difficult.

What about medical care?

If you have an accident, or have a medical emergency, you can visit one of the state hospitals in Kyrenia, Famagusta or Lefkosa. Private hospitals are also found in most towns.

Minor cuts and bruises will be treated usually free of charge in the state hospitals. However, major medical treatment can incur a hefty bill and it is essential that you take out comprehensive insurance cover for your holiday, and that your insurance covers you for Turkey as well as Europe. Please ensure that any pre-existing medical conditions that you may have are notified to the insurance company prior to travel. Failure to notify them may well render the insurance cover null and void.Please note that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is NOT accepted in North Cyprus.

Useful telephone numbers

Police: 155
Fire: 199
Forest Fires: 177
Ambulance Emergencies: 112
General Hospitals
Nicosia/Lefkosa 0392 2285441
Kyrenia/Girne 0392 815 2226/8152254
Famagusta/Magusa 0392 3662876/3665328
Guzelyurt 0392 7142125Dialling CodesTo call a phone in North Cyprus from elsewhere you need to dial 0090 followed by either the code for landline numbers: 392 or for mobiles 542 or 533.
There are two mobile service providers in North Cyprus; KKTC Telsim which uses the 542 prefix and Turkcell which uses 533.
Mobile numbers are usually supplied with the necessary code to facilitate access.When dialling from North Cyprus to the UK enter 0044 followed by the number required with the deletion of the initial zero.