St Hilarion Castle, situated at the ragged summits of the Kyrenia mountain range overlooking the Mediterranean and surrounding regions of North Cyprus’ coastline, is a testament to those who built it. St Hilarion Castle is one of the best-preserved Crusaders Castles, and it has plenty for anyone interested in Cyprus’ history, or history in general – or anyone looking for some truly spectacular vistas!
St Hilarion was a hermit who fled from persecution and lived in a cave. He was an abbot from Palestine, who became a convert to Christianity and was supposed to have visited Saint Antony. Returning to his birthplace, he discovered his parents dead and gave away all his belongings. His regime was monastic in the extreme and he lived on figs, bread, vegetables and oil and slept in a shelter of reeds. Disciples came to learn from him and crowds were attracted to him by his miracles. Eventually settling down in Cyprus, he died at the age
St Hilarion Castle was originally a watchtower to warn of approaching pirates, and although a monastery and a church were established here initially, the first mentions of a castle are found in records from 1191BC.
For a while, the site was of military significance, but it later became the summer retreat of Lusignan aristocracy. When the Venetians conquered Cyprus in 1489, they depended on important cities and harbours for protection, and St Hilarion was neglected and fell into ruin. The castle’s form and arrangement today remain as those of the Byzantines who erected it, with Frankish additions, but some portions are Byzantine work from when it was rebuilt and improved by Lusignan masons.
St Hilarion is a great option if you’re looking to explore Kyrenia and The Hideaway Club Hotel. With good roads leading up to it, the castle is easily accessible. Plus, there’s a big parking lot for visitors! And the views from St Hilarion are definitely worth soaking in. Just keep in mind that there’s quite a bit of walking involved so make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Refreshments are also key – especially if you’re visiting during hot weather. There’s a cafe at the bottom of the castle though, so no need to worry too much about packing snacks with you.