ESTA Travel Group


kyThe city of Kyrenia, known to many as “tourist paradise” is situated on the North coast of Cyprus. The location remains an idyllic Mediterranean town along with its 6000 year long history. Being bound to the North by the enchanted sea and the south with its magical greenery of the legendary Fivefinger mountains, it offers the most magnificent scenery. You will find that Kyrenia's charming and tiny harbour, full of yachts and fishing boats, is framed by the colossal hulk of its Crusader castle. Along with the backdrop of the mountains and the calm, sparkling sea in front, the harbour truly owns an intoxicatingly serene atmosphere.

As you stroll along the narrow cobbled backstreet alleys of the harbour you will find that the town is an easy place to “get lost in time” with all the nostalgic buildings closing up on you. Perhaps you will get lost in the thought of your olden days, reminiscing about those you loved or those you lost, as you are walking down the pier taking in the beauty of the Kyrenia castle as the waves spray your face. Or perhaps you will find yourself giving in to an intense feeling of euphoria as the liveliness and magic of the area rubs off on you renewing your faith yet again filling you up with hopes and dreams. The beauty of the harbour is by all means dominated by the majestic Kyrenia Castle. Dating from the time of the Byzantines, its massive defences surround a complex mixture of building styles from centuries before. Subsequently enlarged and strengthened by the Lusignans and then the Venetians, the castle is now home to many historical artefacts and is the current resting-place of the world's oldest shipwreck salvaged from the sea.

Kyrenia HarbourThe real magic of this beautiful town however, emerges with the setting of the sun and the rise of the moon, casting a mystical glow over the whole area. As the sun sets, Kyrenia harbour becomes the focus of activity as the locals step out to take their evening stroll at the cafés and bistros invitingly beckoning  them with their crisp white linen and small vases of local flowers lovingly arranged on tabletops, welcoming the evening's guests to wine and dine in the cooling breeze. Just a short drive away, lays the  fairy-tale castle of St.Hilarion. Rumour has it that this castle was the original inspiration for Walt Disney's 'Sleeping Beauty'. St Hilarion was built during the crusades and those daring enough to brave the long walk to its battlements will be rewarded with stunning views of Kyrenia and the whole of the island's northern coastline...

Bellapais Abbey

When word comes to the enchanting village of Bellapais...what a sight for sore eyes! Overlooking the town with its ancient abbey, it offers peace and quiet and is the perfect starting point for hill-walking. There is no doubt about the fact that the beauty of Bellapais is nothing but legendary. In fact, when Lawrence Durrell, famous British author, bought a house in the village of Bellapais, he felt ”guilty” of an act of fearful temerity in trying to settle in so fantastic a place! Set in the mountains, just ten minutes above Kyrenia, a visit to this 14th century Lusignan abbey with its fabulous location and pervasive atmosphere of calm is a must. 

Overlooked by the fairytale St. Hilarion Castle and set deep in the mountainside is the picturesque village of Karmi inhabited mostly by British and German expatriates. Cooled in summer by a light breeze, this lovingly restored village is a refuge of peace and genuine charm. With lovely views of the northern coastline from every corner, the relaxed and informal style of Karmi will not fail to enchant the visitor. With its own village pub, a small selection of local bistros, and a nearby handicraft shop, this region will appeal to anyone seeking tranquillity. The village is situated up on the mountains to the west of Kyrenia. It was abandoned by its Greek-Cypriot inhabitants during the war of 1974 turning into a ghost town.

In 1983, the whole village was transferred to the Ministry of Tourism and infrastructural works were undertaken by the Ministry. Roads, pathways  and parking places were built and improved alongside the modernization of water connections. Within seven years time the whole village developed and 150 houses were all renovated under the control of the Ministry. Great importance was shown to keep the character of the village untouched while catering for these needs.

The necropolis of the village of Karmi is thought to date from the Middle Bronze Age (c 1900-1625 BC).  A necropolis is a large ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments. The word derives from the Ancient Greek necropolis, literally meaning "city of the dead". The term implies a separate burial site at a distance from a city as opposed to tombs within cities, which were common in various places and periods of history. They are different from grave fields, which did not have remains above the ground. While the word is most commonly used for ancient sites, it has also been used for some modern cemeteries such as the Glasgow Necropolis. At the Karmi Necropolis a number of rich chamber tombs have been excavated. On the wall of an access passage of a tomb the crude relief of a human figure has survived. This is the earliest relief of a human figure discovered on the island so far. One of the tombs has objects from the Minoan civilization in Crete and also some belonging to Egypt. This highlights the trading link between the two countries. These were probably the gifts of the dead person and so, were buried with him at the time of his death. It is called 'the tomb of the seafarer' because it was believed 'that the man probably walked down to the sea at Lapithos and took service with one of the vessels trading between the Syrian ports and the Aegean and that these objects are momentous of his travels.

10 km west of Kyrenia, spread out over half a dozen levels, is the sprawling, diffuse hill village of Lapithos.  According to Strabo, the settlement was founded by Spartans. In Assyrian inscriptions, Lapithos is mentioned as one of the eleven Cypriot kingdoms. During the Persian rule, Lapithos was settled by Phoenicians. The last independent king Praxippos was subdued by Ptolemy I in 312 BC. A number of springs from the mountain flow noisily out along irrigation channels to water the surrounding gardens and groves of citrus and olive. There are half a dozen attractive whitewashed churches scattered throughout the village, though none of them dates from before the 18th century.  

The town is divided into six parishes. Each one of the six bears the name of the saint to whom the parish church is dedicated. Starting from the west plains the traveller finds the parish church of Ayios Theodhoros Stratilatis – Saint Theodore the Victorious Army Commander. Next, one finds the parish church of Apostolos Loukas – Apostle Luke – and finally the parish church of Ayios Minas – Saint Minas. On the hills there are another two. First, the church of Ayia Anastasia – Saint Anastasia situated in a commanding spot with a large yard surrounding it in which there is a primary school. Then, on higher ground, there is the largest of parish churches in the village, that of Ayia Paraskevi – Saint Paraskevi. This is also the location of the Kefalovryso – headspring. Last but not least, right in the town centre, lies the Church of Timios Prodhromos – Holy Prodhromos, dated back to the 18th century, the oldest in Lapithos. In the Saint Theodore's interior old Byzantine books and icons were kept. According to testimonies of Greek Cypriots exiled by the Turkish invasion, by 1975 every piece of treasure in this historic church was pillaged.

Lapta contains one of the island's most handsome stone mosques.  The Haydar Pashazade Mehmet Bey Mosque in Lapithos is an Ottoman style stone mosque , whose classical Ottoman silhouette of minaret, square prayer hall, hexagonal drum and dome can be seen in Dumlupinar street. George of Cyprus, Byzantine geographer , Cyprien Katsaris, French- Cypriot musician and Ioannis Tsangaridis, Greek General are the famous locals of the village. The village of Lapithos is also twinned with the Greek villages of Mandraki, Milies and Sparta.

Lambousa, the great forgotten city. When driving through the town of Alsancak, how many of you actually are aware of the fact that you are driving past the remains of the great city. Lambousa was founded by the Laconians after the Trojan War in around 1000BC and some evidence from archaeological investigations of the site dates it as early as 3000BC. In 333BC, the king of Lambousa and other kings sent 120 to 200 ships to aid Alexander the Great in his siege of the island city and fortress of Tyre (Lebanon) and the Persians were defeated. Alexander was unable to take this island strong-point until he built a causeway to the island which was an incredible feat of engineering and tactical brilliance. As a reward for the help given, Alexander declared Cyprus free from Persian rule. After Alexander’s death in 323, his successors fought for control of Cyprus. Victory was Ptolemy I of Egypt, who suppressed the kingdoms and made the island a province of his Egyptian kingdom. He forced the last king of Salamis, Nicocreon, to commit suicide in 310 BC, together with all his family. Cyprus was annexed by the Roman Republic in 58 BC and, along with Cilicia on the coast of Anatolia, was made into a Roman province. During this Roman period Lambousa had more than 1000 inhabitants and experienced great commercial development because of its harbour and it became a centre processing copper and earthenware. Lambousa was heavily damaged during the Arab raids from the 7th century AD and the inhabitants fled from the coast to the hills for safety. When the Arabs were defeated in 965 AD the inhabitants returned and rebuilt their city further inland and this city eventually became known as Lapta. The ancient city of Lambousa was abandoned and the ruins plundered for building material over the centuries and very little can be seen today but it is an interesting site to visit.

The village, famous for its lemons and olive groves sprawling over the hills and fields, was once a small, sleepy village. Over the years however it has grown to be a sought-after suburb of Kyrenia, about 5km to the west of the town. After the events of 1974, Ayyorgi was renamed Karaoğlanoğlu in memory of Col. Karaoğlanoğlu who was one of the first Turkish soldiers to fall on landing Cyprus. The Chapel of St Fanurios, carved inside the caves on the coast is one place which can be seen in the area. The rocks under the chapel are known to contain fossils, rumoured to be that of a hippopotamus! Fanurios was an early Christian who while living in Asia Minor, followed the call of Christ and converted into Christianity and settled in Cyprus. According to the myth while climbing the steep cliffs one day he fell off and died on the spot where the chapel is now.

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Main Branch: Next to Dizayn 74 Pottery, Karaoğlanoğlu, Kyrenia, Cyprus ESTA Group
Alsancak Branch: Ülcay İş Merkezi B 2, Near to Atakara Petrol Station, Alsancak
Tel: +90 392 444 3782, +90 392 815 6881