The easternmost of the three castles on the Kyrenia mountains, the Kantara castle, is about 700 metres above sea level and is well positioned to control the entrance to the Karpaz peninsula and The Mesaria plain.
Although it is thought to have been constructed by the Byzantines following the Arab raids on the island like the other two castles, St. Hilarion and Buffavento, the written sources only make a mention of the castle in the year 1191, when Richard Lion-Heart captured the island. When the impostor king of Cyprus Isac Comnen is defeated by the former Palestine King, Guy de Lusignan, who submits to Richard Lion-Heart, he takes refuge in this castle. He gets caught while trying to escape in the Karpaz region. In the Lusignan and Venetian periods frequent mention of the castle is made. The castle is involved in many battles in this period. Although the Genoese conquer Nicosia and Famagusta in 1373, the castle stays in the hands of the supporters of the King of Cyprus, Peter I.
It is known that, when the king’s brother, Prince John, escapes from captivity in the hands of the Genoese, he takes refuge in the castle. The castle is surrounded with walls by King James in 1391. After the Venetians gain control of the island, like other castles away from the sea, this castle too loses its importance. The castle has sections like a defence line, dormitories, a cistern, vaulted rooms, and a signal tower.
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