"Cyprus - the less well known North" Top 5 Page for this destination Kyrenia by ranger49

Kyrenia Travel Guide: 140 reviews and 404 photos

Not Just Another Island.

A Note about place names. I was more familiar with the pre-partition place names of north Cyprus and for consistency, will use these, followed at first mention by the currently used Turkish name.

We were surprised by the negative reaction of a some friends and acquaintances on hearing that we planned to spend nearly a month in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
It was 1999, the year in which the 25th anniversary of the political and military action which resulted in the creation of a divided island. Tension, was running high on both sides of the dividing line and it seemed to be reflected here in some UK newspaper articles commenting on the anniversary, and amongst the population at large - particularly those old enough to have been serving in the British army who had personal experience of the long, bitter and bloody events in the years before 1974.

For the North, imposed political isolation had contributed to economic decline and depression with very many fewer tourists than the thousands flocking to the more developed Greek south of the island.
We were to discover that this neglect meant that the traditional landscape and culture of the area remained largely intact with none of the despoilation inflicted by mass tourism on the south.

Shortages of manufactured goods were evident - along every street and on every street corner signs of a "make do and mend" society were evident - small, really small, engineering repair workshops, tailors and cobblers -working in their front rooms.
We met and talked with many people who spoke openly about how "partition" had affected them personally and heard many sad stories and different points of view. The one constant was the welcoming friendliness of all the people we met.

When we arrived at Ercan airport, having first landed in Turkey at Istanbul Airport - the only internationally agreed route for visitors to the TRNC, we were met by a pre-arranged taxi. We knew little more than the address and that it was in the "old Turkish" area in Kyrenia/Girne. The taxi driver knew it and dropped us off about 1 0'clock in the morning. As he drove away we realised we had no key - but no matter the door was open and the key inside. So began our experience of Cyprus - not just a holiday.

Our temporary home

Our temporary home was an old house in the old Turkish area of the town.
Our neighbour was the retired postmaster who at first approached us shyly but soon became more relaxed and during the first few cold, rainy days we were there apologised for the weather and assured us it would improve.
Prior to 1975, he told us, his job in the Post Office meant he had worked in north and south but he had then been forced to return to the north and was fortunate that he had his old family home to return to. For his wife it had been more difficult - all her family remained in the south and travel between north and south was not then possible.

Around the corner there was a mosque and the call of the Muezzin became a familiar sound fron sunrise to nightfall.

At the bottom of the lovely long garden, filled with orange, lemon and other fruit trees, we had views of the mountains and a junior school. It was less visible than audible, not only at playtime when the sound of young voices could be heard, but as the weather got warmer and warmer it seemed many lessons were conducted outdoors.

Easter in Northern Cyprus

The house we stayed in was close to St Andrew's Church.
The church is situated on a hillside close to the Castle - said to have been captured by Richard the Lionheart on his way to the third Crusade in 1191 - and almost overlooking the beautiful harbour.
We expected to find a small number of resident British people and a smaller number of holiday makers at the Easter Morning service. To our surprise the small church was unable to accommodate the large congregation so the lovely garden with its ancient olive trees, profusely flowering geraniums and a carpet of wild cyclamen took the overflow. The hymns and prayers of the openair service attracted many bystanders, some stopping on the pavement to join in, others quietly watching. During the service local people passed answering the call of the Muezzin to prayer.
There was something rather special about that peaceful day.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Unlike any other Mediterrannean island.
  • Cons:Only man-made problems
  • In a nutshell:A turbulent history, natural beauty & friendly people provide an unforgettable experience.
  • Last visit to Kyrenia: Apr 1999
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (9)

Comments (26)

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    Just come down from St Hilarion, evening chill kept at bay with a good red in our lovely Bellapais hotel. Yesterday Soli - and all those ornage groves - love your marmalade story!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Oct 27, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Barbara, excellent little page about Kyrenia. Cyprus was an option for our upcoming trip in November, but we have finally decided for Malta.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 30, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    What views you had from the Castle, well worth the climb! You would be a one in a million person, Barbara.....making Marmalade whilst on holidays!

  • Briony's Profile Photo
    Dec 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    You were lucky - I was 10 years too late to see it as it was back then. I think you would be disappointed if you went back there now.

  • Andrew_W_K's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2009 at 12:29 AM

    Really interesting tips - a place I'd like to go to before it gets spoiled by the rest of us.

  • Aitana's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    Nice introduction to Cyprus island. Never been there. Thanks for your sharing your experience.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    Excellent tips and photos of Cyprus, especially the Cathedral of St Nicholas and ruins of Soli. Do you have any marmalade left? I flew out of Cairo a day before the 1974 invasion, after deciding at the last moment to go to Tunisia instead of Cyprus!

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2009 at 8:29 PM

    It's always a joy to read your pages! You visit such delightful places. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2009 at 4:33 AM

    Hi Barbara, I liked your Cyprus page. Kyrenia, Famagusta, Soli, Vouni and St Hillarion my best too :) all the best.Bora. BTW Great tips here.

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Feb 2, 2009 at 12:13 PM

    Cyprus looks beautiful and your pictures are just exquisite! It's definitely on my wish list, Norman :)


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