1) St. Sophia Cathedral (Selimiye Mosque): This is the earliest and perhaps the finest of the Lusignan churches, built by French architects and Queen Alix of Champagne (Hugh I’s wife) in the same style as Chartres and Rouen Cathedrals in France. Following the Ottoman conquest in the 16th century, it was transformed into a mosque with the addition of two minarets.
2) Mevlana Tekke: It is immediately inside the Girne Kapisi (Kyrenia Gate). Built in the 18th century as a cloister of Dervish brotherhood, it houses an ethnographical museum.
3) Buyuk Han and Kumarcilar Hani: These are magnificentexamples of Ottoman architecture.
4) Dervish Pasha Konagi (Mansion): A beautiful Ottoman house, transformed into a museum, recently renovated to its former glory.
5) The National Struggle Museum: Located in Mucahitler Sitesi near the Girne Kapisi (Kyrenia Gate), this museum gives you a good idea about the Turkish Cypriot people’s struggle for independence. Weapons used during 1963-1974 period and those captured from the Greeks can be seen here.
1) Bellapais: Four miles to the east of Girne, touching the peaceful village which was once home for Lawrence Durrell, the Bellapais Abbey is indisputably one of the most majestic sites of the island. It is the most impressive Gothic monument in North Cyprus. It overhangs citrus gardens which stretch out to the sea below. A truly magnificent view! The name comes from the combination of the French words ‘belle’ and ‘pais’ meaning “beautiful peace”. It has also been called Abbey de la Pais (the Abbey of Peace). It was founded during the Lusignan reign by the Augustinians in 1205. Hugh III, a Lusignan king, financed the majority of the construction. Hugh IV was even more attached to Bellapais, adding magnificent apartments and living there between 1354 and 1358.
Durell, who admired the oriental Mediterranean, in his book “Bitter Lemons”, gives us a beautiful description of Cyprus in the fifties, and reveals the second attraction of the village: “the tree of idleness”.
2) Old Kyrenia Harbour: It is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting sites of the oriental Mediterranean. The marina is surrounded by old Venetian houses, restaurants and taverns. It attracts numerous colourful fishing boats as well as elegant yachts. Girne was founded by the Myceneans towards 1600 BC.
3) The Kyrenia Castle: Nobody has yet been able to establish the exact date of the construction of the castle. As a result of excavations at the site, it is thought that the original castle was built in the 9th Century AD by the Byzantines to defend Girne against Arab raids. Later additions were constructed by the Lusignans and the castle was further strengthened by the Venetians. An interesting fact about the castle is that in al its history, the caste was never taken by assault.
4) Panagia Chrysopolitissa: Church of the 18th century now has the finest collection of icons in Girne.
5) The Shipwreck Museum: The museum houses the remains of the oldest trading ship ever to have been recovered from the sea. It sank in a storm around the year 300 BC, less than a mile off the coast of Girne. The ship was raised from the sea bed by a team of experts in 1969, reassembled, and treated with a preservative before being put on display. Also in the museum is the cargo carried by the ship on its last voyage, including 400 wine amphorae, 9,000 almonds, 29 millstones, 4 wooden spoons, 4 jars of oil, 4 salt pots, and 4 casks of alcohol.
6) Three Magnificent Castles: The crusaders left behid three castles on the Five Finger Mountains: Kantara, Buffavento and St. Hilarion which were used as observation and defence posts. St. Hilarion, the best preserved of the three, was used as a summer residence by the kings of Cyprus. Its crenellated walls look as if they were cut in the rock. Its square tower shelters a small tavern. Built in the 10th Century during the Byzantine period, used in the middle ages by the Lusignans and destroyed later in the 15th Century by the Venetians, Buffavento Castle is only accessible after quite a sportive walk. Those courageous enough will not be dissapointed by the spectacular view. It used to be a prison, escape castle and hideaway.
Situated at the beginning of the Karpas peninsula, the Kantara castle has an unsurpassed view on both north coast and the Mesaoria plain towards Gazimagusa.
7) Hazreti Omer Mausoleum: Located four miles east of the town on the coast, this is a mausoleum dedicated to seven Muslim martyrs.
1) The Ruins of Salamis: Only a few miles North of Gazimagusa, you can find the remnants of the ruins of the antique city of Salamis abandoned to the encroaching sand. It was built in the 11th century BC by Achaean and Anatolian settlers who were soon joined by the refugees who finally abandoned Enkomi-Alasia in 1050 BC. Salamis is a great site. The most impressive remains are the theatre and the gymnasium. The others are the palaestra (vast exercise ground with marble columns), the sudatorium (or sweating room) and the calderium. The excavations are scattered over a square mile of scrub and acacia.
2) Othello Tower: A visit to this tower which keeps guard on the port is a must. It is said that the drama which inspired Shakespeare took place in Famagusta.
3) St. Nicholas Cathedral: It became the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque in the 16th century, after the Ottoman conquest. It is a replica, with yellow stones, of the Reims Cathedral in France.
4) The Monastery of St. Barnabas: It houses a church built in 1756 and the National Museum of Antiquities with objects, especially potteries, discovered at Salamis and Enkomi-Alasia.
5) Ayios Philon: This is a 4th Century complex which consists of a peristyle court, a bishop’s palace, a basilica and other few buildings. They were built on the foundations of earlier Roman and Hellenistic structures. In the 12th Century, a Byzantine church was erected on the site of the earlier Christian basilica.
1) Soli: A lovely road, along the coast, takes you to the discovery of the antique city of Soli with beautiful mosaics and a theatre. The famous statue of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, was discovered here. Soli was a great city, founded in the 6th Century BC. It was at its most importance during the Roman occupation of Cyprus, and was destroyed during the Arab invasion in the 7th Century. A Swedish archaeological expedition excavated the Roman amphitheatre in 1930 and an early Christian Basilica and mosaics came to light during the later work by Canadian teams. Much work remains to be done over the huge site.
2) The Vouni Palace: It was built in the 5th century BC, at 820 feet above sea level; the view is absolutely breath-taking.
3) Archaeological Museum: Contains exhibits from the neolithic period until the Lusignan period.
In spring, the light breezes scatter the white orange blossoms from which you can smell the fragrance around the town, while in other seasons the golden oranges and lemons shine on the trees. It is an ideal picnic spot for those who want to escape from the noise and rush of city life and to spend the day in the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings.