Our morning drive towards Nicosia, the Island’s Capital, brings us to the “Green Line,” the political divider between the Republic of Cyprus and the Northern Region of the Island – an area occupied by Turkey since 1974.
We make the routine crossing and enter into the less developed, yet supremely beautiful landscape of the Pentadaktylos, meaning ‘Five Fingers,’ Mountain Range. For our first stop in the North, our bus climbs to the top of a spectacular peak where we tour the grounds of St Hilarion Castle, an impressive stone-built fortress, dating back to the 8th-10th Century which offers some of the best views over Kyrenia and the Northern coastline.
Our next visit is to the must-see Bellapais Abbey, situated in the village of Bellapais and made famous in the novel Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell. This monastery is considered one of the best-preserved examples of Gothic Architecture on the island and is built almost entirely out of local limestone. The first settlers in the Abbey (whose First Monastic Phase was constructed in 1198-1205) were the priests of the Augustinian order who had migrated from Jerusalem.
Much of the day will be devoted to exploring the picturesque town of Kyrenia with its horseshoe-shaped Harbour, its spectacular Medieval Castle, and its maze of narrow streets with finely preserved stone houses. The most important monument inside the town is the Kyrenia Castle Museum, which houses, amongst other exhibits, the famous Kyrenia Shipwreck. This wooden ship dates to cir.300 BC and was raised up from the seabed and preserved in a special environmentally controlled chamber, where it is proudly displayed today as the oldest shipwreck ever brought out of the water.
During the day, ample time will be given for lunch and coffee breaks and you will be able to explore the picturesque Harbour of Kyrenia, before we make our way back across the Green Line and onwards to your Hotel.
Please don’t forget to bring your Passport!