Buffavento Castle in Kyrenia, North Cyprus.
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Buffavento Castle


Buffavento Castle
photo by: Kenan Erden
[ enlarge photo ]

Buffavento Castle is one of three magnificent castles, built high in the Kyrenia mountains of North Cyprus. Like the castles of St Hilarion and Kantara, Buffavento Castle is quite an imposing sight, perched on a rocky hilltop 950 metres above sea level. No wonder it’s name, Buffavento, means “Gusty Winds”, although some prefer the more romantic translation of “Defiant of Winds”!

Buffavento Castle and Richard the Lionheart

Buffavento Castle had various uses over the years. It probably originated as a Byzanine watch-tower, guarding against Arab raiders, and it is said that the Byzantine king Isaac Comnenus fled here when Richard the Lionheart invaded in 1191. The castle surrendered, and during the Lusignan period, Buffavento Castle was used as a prison, known as the ‘Chateau du Lion’. Buffavento Castle then fell into disuse during the Venetian period, as coastal defences became preferable over mountaintop castles. The castle narrowly missed destruction during the disastrous North Cyprus fire of 1995, which destroyed 16,000 acres of forest around the castle site itself. Today, Buffavento is the least preserved of the three castles, but all the more atmospheric and rugged for it.

The best views in North Cyprus

Buffavento Castle is on two levels. Walk through the lower arched entrance and you’ll see store-rooms and dormitories opposite, with a water cistern underneath. Take the stairs up from the gatehouse and a ten minute climb will bring you to the top level, with magnificent views, in the right weather conditions, of Kyrenia, Nicosia and Famagusta in North Cyprus, and even the Troodos Mountains in the south. The remains of a small chapel can also been seen here on the upper level.

Visiting Buffavento Castle, Northern Cyprus

Opening hours for the castle do vary, as the Turkish Army control entry days. If you turn down the track to the castle from the Bufavento Besparmak restaurant and the metal barrier is down, the castle is closed. Walking to the castle from the parking area takes around 20 minutes, and you pass a moving memorial to the victims of a light aircraft crash here in 1988.