History of Kyrenia (2)
Girne is the Tourism capital' of Northern Cyprus and is probably one of the loveliest locations anywhere in the Mediterranean. With its horseshoe shaped harbour dominated by Girne Castle and antique warehouses, which have become cafes, restaurants, and bars. The atmosphere is magical. The backdrop to the town is the Five Finger Mountain range peaked, just behind the town, by Richard ten Lionheart's St. Hilarion Castle. The harbour is the main focal point of the town. Join the locals in an early evening stroll past the multi-coloured fishing boats and yachts. Then settle down in one of the cafes and watch the world go by.
Girne boasts a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses. It also offers an array of restaurants, both local and international. Local restaurants generally offer meze, which is a collection of small appetizers, followed by kebabs or fish. There are also some restaurants, which specialise in Cypriot home cooking serving local vegetable dishes such as molohiya and kolokas. Those who enjoy French, Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and English cuisine are also well catered for.
Girne is ideal as a base for a holiday in Northern Cyprus or as a holiday destination in itself.
Settlement in the Girne area dates back to neolitic times, and under the influence of the Anatolian coastal civilisations during the Bronze Age, the population in the region grew.
Until 3 12 Be. Girne was an independent city kingdom, but was then taken over by Salamis. The name Girne is believed to date back to that time. Ptolemy (King of Salamis) apparently referred to the town as "Keravnia" which means Aphrodite with the Thunderbolt. During the tenth century the Phoenicians settled and established a trading post. And during Roman times the area was granted a relatively large amount of autonomy, allowing it to develop along its own lines. In fact, Girne during Roman times was Christian even before Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire. During Roman rule the importance of the port as an access to markets in Asia Minor helped the town to grow in both stature and status.
In 1192 Girne fell to the Crusaders led by Richard the Lionheart, but was then handed on the Lusignans who divided the region into feudal estates. Interestingly, some place names closely resemble the names given to them by the Frankish overlords. The viIIage of Temblos (Zeytinlik in Turkish) was the estate of the Knights Templar. Karmi viIIage (Karaman in Turkish) was the property of the Carmelites. And Agrida (Agirdag in Turkish) was known as La Gride by the Franks. During Venetian rule the notifications of Girne, which were also extensive during Frankish rule, were extended and strengthened. But their efforts were in vain as in 1571 the Ottomans took Girne with out a single shot being fired.
After the Ottoman conquest Girne entered so meting of a decline due to the fact that as part of the greater Ottoman Empire, and surrounded by lands also within that realm, the strategic and economic value of the town was negligible.
After the British took over the administration of Cyprus in 1889 attempts were made to improve and renovate Girne harbour with a view to increasing trade and shipping. However it was hard for the harbour to shake off its reputation as a'shipwrecker'.
In recent times Girne has developed into a popular tourist resort, but fortunately for those who live in or visit the town it has never been overrun by tourists.