We went through the Turkish check point this time heading in the direction of Kyrenia and more precisely St. Hilarion Castle, named after the monastic saint from Palestine who came to Cyprus in search of solitude. It is believed to be the best-preserved mountain-top stronghold in North Cyprus. Its defensive walls were impressive to look at from below but definitely a lot more the moment we started climbing up the various sections.
The Castle, which has played an important role in the 1228-31 struggle for the domination of Cyprus between German Emperor FrederickII of Hohenstaufen and Jean d'Ibelin and later in 1373 in the Genoese invasion does bristle with turrets on its walls built on sheer rock.
A huge gate led to the inner castle divided into several sections (the Barbican section, the lower section with a chapel, and a refectory, which in the Lusignan period is said to have been converted into a banqueting hall, now transformed into an exhibit type of hall restaurant, where some of he members of our group rested as four of us (Francoise, Jacques, Michel and I) made our way onto the upper section (with the Royal apartments and the barrack).
It wasn't easy to reach the top, I must confess, once some of the stone steps were irregular and thus requiring special attention on our part as we moved farther up, but it was well worth it, if for nothing else at least for the magnificent views over Karmi village.
On the Gothic "queen's window.
(To be continued)