Kantara Castle and Panagia Tochniou
After the Arab raids of the 6th and the 7th centuries A.D the Byzantines first fortified the peak of the mountain, to be followed by the Lusignans, who embellished and strengthened the fortifications so as to protect Famagusta and the important and rich peninsula of the Karpas; The French royal family of the Lusignans used the palace during the hot summer months.
The superb Castle of Kantara, the Hundred Chambers, which, seeming to hang in mid-air, dominates this end of Cyprus has been often visited and described. Buffavento stands higher, and St Hilarion can show more perfect ramparts and turrets, but neither recalls so strangely a forgotten age, neither seems to be so thickly peopled with its ghosts, as this lovely ruin on its pillar of rock. No painter’ s wildest fancy has pictured anything so fantastic as these Cyprian Castles, and standing at the foot of the last steep leading to the gate of Kantara, and involuntarily recalling the fairy towers of romance, the traveller might imagine in the stronghold of a Sleeping Beauty, untouched by change or time for a thousand years.
George Jeffery. A description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus. Nicosia 1918.
The castle of Kantara is one of the most important castles we have and was built upon an earlier lookout post of the Byzantines, so as to check the whole of the bay of Famagusta and the Karpas Peninsula. Its name derives from the arab Kandak meaning castle. The castle as we see it today dates from the 14th century.
The church of the Virgin of Tochniou is perched upon the southern slopes of the Pentadactylos range. It was built in the 12th century and was decorated with wall paintings.
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