Saint Hilarion Castle

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Saint Hilarion Castle
(Turkish: Saint Hilarion Kalesi Greek: Κάστρο του Αγίου Ιλαρίωνα)
Saint Hilarion Castle.jpg
Saint Hilarion Castle
Saint Hilarion Castle is located in Cyprus
Saint Hilarion Castle
Location within Cyprus
General information
Town or city Kyrenia
Country De jure  Cyprus
De facto  Northern Cyprus
Coordinates 35°18′44″N 33°16′51″E / 35.3123°N 33.2808°E / 35.3123; 33.2808
Construction started 10th-century

The Saint Hilarion Castle lies on the Kyrenia mountain range, in Cyprus near Kyrenia (Girne). This location provided the castle with command of the pass road from Kyrenia to Nicosia. It is the best preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the others being Kantara and Buffavento.

Saint Hilarion was originally a monastery, named after a monk who allegedly chose the site for his hermitage, with a monastery and a church built there in the 10th century. Starting in the 11th century, the Byzantines began fortification. Saint Hilarion formed the defense of the island with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara against Arab pirates raiding the coast. Some sections were further upgraded under the Lusignan rule, who may have used it as a summer residence. During the rule of Lusignans, the castle was the focus of a four-year struggle between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Regent John d' Ibelin for control of Cyprus.

View of the Queen's window (Queen Elanor) in the upper ward.

The castle has three divisions or wards. The lower and middle wards served economic purposes, while the upper ward housed the royal family. The lower ward had the stables and the living quarters for the men-at-arms. The Prince John tower sits on a cliff high above the lower castle. The church lies on the middle ward. The upper ward was reserved for the Royals and can be entered via a well-preserved archway. Farm buildings are located in the west close to the royal apartments. Along the western wall, there is a breathtaking view of the northern coast of Cyprus, overlooking the city of Kyrenia (Girne), from the Queen's Window.

Much of the castle was dismantled by the Venetians in the 15th century to reduce the up-keeping cost of garrisons.

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Media related to Saint Hilarion Castle at Wikimedia Commons