The best vantage point on the Karpas is from this Lusignan Gothic castle, one of three in Cyprus. Kantara Castle is the furthest east and the lowest in elevation at 690m. It has a 360-degree view of the region and on a clear day, you can see the coast of Turkey and even Syria. The castle’s documented history dates back to 1191 when Richard the Lionheart seized it from Isaak Komninos, the Byzantine emperor of Cyprus.
Kantara was used as a beacon station to communicate with Buffavento Castle to the west. Its significance faded in the 16th century when Venetian military strategists began to depend more on firepower than elevation for protection. In 1521 they relocated their garrison from here and the castle was left open to raiders searching for the treasures told of in legends about Kantara.
Today you can see the castle’s well-preserved northern section, its towers and walls still resolutely standing. The outer entrance leads into the now somewhat overgrown barbican. The north and south towers guard the inner entrance, where you enter the castle proper. Inside you’ll find the garrison, latrines and a cistern.
The highest point of the complex is the lookout tower, from where flares were lit to warn of impending danger. At the castle’s southwestern end are further garrisons and the postern gate, used to unleash troops and catch would-be attackers off-guard. The roof of the north tower is narrow, unfenced and vertiginous, but the views are incredible.
A free map is provided; you’ll need about an hour to see everything. Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times, as there are some unfenced drops, rough tracks and uncapped holes on the site.
From Kyrenia it takes about two hours to reach the castle. You turn off the coastal highway at Kaplıca (Davios) and take the narrow, winding (but easily drivable) road upwards to the car park.