KERYNEIA CASTLE

KERYNEIA

N° 33 a
Town / Village : Kyrenia / Girne

District : Kyrenia

 

DESCRIPTION :

The castle must have existed along with the walled town of Keryneia already during the period of the first Arab raids (middle of the 7th century AD.).

The castle’s Byzantine phase can be seen in the remaining architectural elements found in the courtyard and elsewhere that had been incorporated into the Lusignian additions to the castle. A 12th century Byzantine chapel still survives in the castle area. The chapel is a domed building supported by four marble columns that must have belonged to an earlier building. The chapel was probably built upon the ruins of an early Christian basilica. It is situated outside the main castle complex and was probably used by the Orthodox community during the Lusignan period.

In the 13th century the castle underwent major alterations and extensions. In the Lusignan period its plan became rectangular with square towers at its corners (only two towers survive today). The complex’s various buildings were constructed along the interior of the castle’s four sides and the main entrance was positioned in the west wall. The north and east ranges where rebuilt and a large wall was erected in the south. The surviving Frankish period additions survive mainly in the west and east range.

The entrance building dates to the 14th century and it probably replaced an earlier Byzantine one. The entrance building is comprised of a single gate which was reinforced with a portcullis. The coats of arms above the gate are medieval but are not in situ.

In the castle’s west range there are doorways cut through the section of the Byzantine west wall which lead into chambers that were added by the Lusignans outside the early wall. In the floor of the lowest of these chambers two rock-cut shafts are most probably the ‘oubliettes’. In the middle-storey of this range there is a large chamber with four bays and slightly pointed intersecting vaulting divided by transverse arches. Above this chamber is what survives of the upper storey of the Frankish west range where it has been suggested that the royal apartments of the later Lusignans were situated.

In the surviving part of the Frankish east range two large vaulted cisterns occupy the basement level of the first four bays from the south. The next storey, at the level of the courtyard, includes lofty rooms that are the main surviving domestic quarters, distinct from and unconnected to the fighting gallery. It is evident that the east range was formerly joined to a series of small chambers situated along the north wall. From the eastermost of the lower cells one enters into the horseshoe-shaped northeast tower. In the castle’s northwest corner a square tower built by the Lusignans exists which retains parts of the Byzantine tower.

During the Venetian period the castle was altered in order to be able to accommodate the period’s new war methods such as the use of canons. The west wall was rebuilt in 1544 and massive towers with numerous gun-emplacements were constructed on the northwest and southeast angles. In 1560 a great rectangular bastion was added in the southwest corner to provide gun positions on three levels. The Venitians also filled many areas with earth along the south wall in order to form a rampart of over 22 m in thickness.

At the angle of the entrance passage is the tomb of Sadik Pasha of Algiers, commander of the Ottoman fleet, who died in September 1570, at the time of the Ottoman conquest. During the Ottoman rule the castle was used by the Ottoman military detachment that was posted in Kyrenia. The rest of the Ottoman population also resided in the castle for protection.

 

Period : 7th century – 16th century

 

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