We leave Tuesday for home! So now we’re actually thinking about packing and defrosting the frig and freezer and all those things it’s a pain to think about. We’d rather go off on the motorbike! It will be great to be back with family and friends, but it is a bit hard to leave Cyprus. It’s a beautiful country. It has its issues but so do all countries. The people are friendly, the food is great and the weather just about perfect. My next email will be from Roanoke,VA which I will try to make interesting for our new friends around the world and our new friends from Turkey and Cyprus.
ps Sox lost a dumb game today!
Kantara Castle near Iskele, North Cyprus
Saturday Randal and I set off for Iskele, a small town about 24 miles from the marina. There is an icon museum located in an old church and we wanted to visit it. Lunch was good: the museum was closed.
Spiced grilled chicken, onions, tomato, cilantro all stuffed into a fresh pita bread. Randal gets directions to the icon museum.
I don’t know what SHT stands for but I wanted to insert an I when we found the museum closed.
I don’t know if it was closed for the hour, day, week, or forever. The lady at the bakery next door said “Closed” and then something else in Turkish….so….one day we will try again.
http://www.whatson-northcyprus.com/interest/iskele/icon.htm shows what we would have seen.
So then we decided to go on to Kantara Castle and that was great! The steep road up was built just for our motorbike, lots of curves, great views and no traffic. There were even really good signs all the way from Iskele. And the entrance fee was only 5 TL per person; now about $2.80. I know Randal loved the castle because as soon as we started to walk up the stone steps into the castle he asked for the camera so he could take some photos and later he asked people to take our photo in the castle. When we visit the old churches he’s usually out on the motorbike honking the horn for me to hurry up.
10th century Kantara Castle is the one furthest east on the Karpaz Peninsula.
will show you photos and tell you much more than I can.
But this passage written in 1888 captures it best…
"The superb Castle of Kantara, the Hundred Chambers, which, seeming to hang in mid-air, dominates this end of Cyprus, has been often visited and described. Buffavento stands higher, and St. Hilarion can shew more perfect ramparts and turrets, but neither recalls so strangely a forgotten age, neither seems to be so thickly peopled with its ghosts, as this lonely ruin on its pillar of rock. No painter’s wildest fancy has pictured anything so fantastic as these Cyprian Castles, and, standing at the foot of the last steep leading to the gate of Kantara, and involuntarily recalling the fairy-towers of romance, the traveller might imagine it the stronghold of a Sleeping Beauty, untouched by change or time for a thousand years! It is best seen from the north-west where the precipice is sheerest, the winding paths seem to cling most dizzily to its face, and the ruins of the interior cannot be seen ; but once within the outer gate the illusion partly vanishes in view of the broken battlements, although man and horse can still find shelter in many of the chambers." (11 Devia," p. 101.)” Devia Cypria; notes of an archaeological journey in Cyprus in 1888 [Electronic Edition]
D. G. HOGARTH, M.A.
FELLOW OF MAGDALEN COLLEGE, LATE CRAVEN FELLOW IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
WITH MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS
HENRY FROWDE, AMEN CORNER, E.C. 1889
This is the view looking up from the parking lot which Mr Hogarth, MA probably never envisioned.
Walking up to the castle entrance….who put in the steps?
The Mediterranean on both sides.
Here we are looking back towards Iskele down there somewhere: and south coast of the peninsula.
Randal points to a cove we had passed on the new North Coast road from Girne (Kryenia) to Karpaz that we’d taken a few days earlier. We came up on the road from Iskele and went down on the road towards the new coast road towards Dipkarpaz.
Rocky ledges and arrow openings.
It was like having the keys to the museum and you could wander anywhere you wanted. There was a map with locations noted but the matching numbers weren’t visible and it was off by a number or they just forgot to identify what # 27 was. We found the cistern and the prison and rooms where people slept and climbed around and had a great time.
The views were all spectacular and the weather perfect but we didn’t spot Turkey or Lebanon which is possible in winter.
Of the three crusader castles of Buffavento, St Hilarion and Kantara, Kantara lies furthest to the east. At 630m above sea level (2066.4 ft,) it is also the lowest of the three. (We will visit the others one day.)
Some would say it is the least exciting, as it is easy to reach compared with the other two. However it has by far the best views, its summit standing on a pinnacle with views all round. The name "Kantara" in Arabic means a bridge or an arch. This is an appropriate name, as the castle is located at a point which bridges the mountain range and commands views of both the north and the south coasts. On a clear day, it is possible to see across both sides of the Karpaz peninsula, and on to the distant mountains of Turkey. In winter is sometimes possible to see the snows of Lebanon, over 160km away…….
There are several routes you can take to Kantara castle, from either the northern or southern coastal roads. It will take you about 30 minutes of good, but narrow and twisty roads to get to the Village of Kantara, where you can stop and have some refreshments after your drive. From the north, the road through Kaplica, is by far the best, having recently been widened and upgraded (although no less twisty than the other routes!) Approaching from the south, (we did this) the road from Iskele through Topcukoy and Ardahan has likewise been upgraded. The castle itself is about 10 minutes beyond the village (of Ardahan.)
“The origins of the Kantara Castle go back to the 10th century when it was built as a look out post. The first reference to the castle in the records is 1191 when Richard the Lionheart captured Cyprus and Isaac Comnenos, the rebel Byzantine prince from Trapezus (Trabzon, Turkey) who had captured the island and proclaimed himself King of Cyprus, after having ruled for 7 years as a despot, sheltered in Kantara. In the 12th century it was remodeled by the Lusignans. Throughout the island’s history Kantara often served as a shelter for defeated barons and kings. When the Genoese conquered Famagusta and Nicosia in 1373, Kantara remained in the hands of John of Antioch, the brother of King Peter I of Cyprus till he moved to St. Hilarion. Later his brother King James I (1382-1398) of Cyprus refortified Kantara. Most of the surviving parts belong to his restorations. It continued to be used as late as 1525 when Venetians having relied on the coastal fortresses such as Krenia and Famagusta for the defense of the island neglected it as they had done with the other island castles of St. Hilarion and Buffavento.” Information from the sheet handed out at the castle.
Physicist, Dermatologist, Psychologist
We met these nice young men as we all wandered through the castle. We coincidentally stopped at the same café on the way down the mountain and sat together having our drinks while they waited for their lunch. The Physicist had studied in Athens, the Dermatologist in Russia, and the Psychologist in Bulgaria. Not sure if they are finished with their schooling of just on a quick vacation. They were from Nicosia in the Republic of Cyprus so their first language is Greek but luckily for us they all speak English very well. They were taking a long weekend and driving the circumference of Cyprus so were sort of racing along, camping at night. Wish we had met them on their way towards Karpaz; they could have camped on our boat. We told them if they come again they can stay with us. Meeting people is one of the best parts of traveling.