St. Hilarion Castle
The original castle, to which the monastery gave place, formed part of the Byzantine defence of the island, which included castles of Kyrenia, Buffavento and Kantara also. The date of its construction is not recorded, but probably it was in the late 11th century. Alternatively, the building of the castle may have formed part of the measures taken by the Emperor Alexis I for the greater security of the Island, following a serious revolt in 1092.
The castle is named after St. Hilarion, a hermit monk who fled from persecution in the Holy Land and lived and died in a cave on the mountain. Later in the 10th century the Byzantines built a church and monastery here. St. Hilarion Castle was originally built as a watch tower to give warning of approaching Arab pirates who launched a continuous series of raids on Cyprus and the coasts of Anatolia from the 7th to the 10th centuries.
When the Venetians captured Cyprus in 1489, they relied on Kyrenia, Nicosia and Famagusta for the defence of the island and St. Hilarion was neglected and fell into oblivion.
Today it is a major tourist attraction and every year thousands of people climb the hundreds of steps up to the highest point to experience the unique feeling of being on top of the world! Once there you can sit and try to contemplate the sheer size of what had been achieved in constructing this awesome castle on top of, and into, the Kyrenia mountain range. You'll be there a very long time!