Kyrenia Gate is one of the three entrances to the city built by the Venetians.
The gate was originally called the "Porta Del Proveditore".
Kyrenia gate has undergone several
changes since its Venetian days. In 1821 the Turks restored it and
added a square chamber with a domed roof, and in 1931 the British
demolished the section of the walls around it to facilitate the
traffic into and out of the city.
Still visible however is a panel
recording the date of its building and a stone tablet inscribed with verses from
Kyrenia Gate (Girne Kapısı), Nicosia
For more than a thousand years
Nicosia was a walled town, like most towns in the Middle Ages in Europe. Very
few have retained their ancient walls, and those that have, such as Carcassonne
in the south of France, regard them as show places for tourists. Nicosia has
retained its walls because of their huge size, and, being just earth ramparts
with stone facing, not many building blocks could be obtained by demolishing
Before the days of preservation of
ancient monuments and various antique buildings, it was common practice to build
a house with stones derived from crumbling ruins of walls and towers. The
ancient walls of a town became everyman's quarry.
The old city of Nicosia was
inhabited by artisans and craftsmen who not only used the goods they made for
themselves, but sold them in the town market. The governors were rich merchants
who decided what goods could come in through the gates, and also what people
should be allowed to enter. Some had to go out at sunset when the gates were
closed, but there were plenty of wide open spaces outside the walls to camp out.
The Famagusta gate was the chief one and this led to the major port of the
Just imagine the scene in the
old days, when, in the early morning, long queues of horse carts, donkeys, mules
and camels waited to get into the morning market. The entrance was by a very
narrow gate where taxes were often collected. There were no passports; only
daggers and battle axes to argue with. Fig.
4 shows the Kyrenia gate as it is today, but a photograph nearly one hundred
years old shows the gate in use with the walls right up to the gate building. It
was only about 40 years ago that the British demolished part of the wall on
either side of the gate, to make two roads for motor cars to enter and leave.
Today, every one seems to rush by the gate and not notice it as it lies as an
island in a whirl of traffic.
The gate was originally known
as Del Proveditore and was built by the Venetians with stones from the mediaeval
walls of Nicosia, of which not a trace exists today. In 1821 the Turks repaired
the gate, and added the square building on top, surmounted by a dome. During the
restoration, a stone tablet recording the building of the gate by the Venetians
was found. This can be seen above the gate archway, and the details are given in
fig. 5. Are there any Latin scholars
here who can translate the words? It will be a puzzle, because some of the
letters are missing. Most people will understand MDLXII, which being 1562, must
be the date of this Venetian gateway. Outside the commemorative tablet is the
date 1931, and George the fifth, king and emperor. This records the date when
the gaps in the walls were made to take the modern roads into the city. Above
this is a small tablet with a quotation from the Koran inscribed in ancient
Between the gate and the Atatürk
statue are two large iron cannon, seven others in the public gardens to the
east, two more on the rampart on the other side, (fig.
6) and several in odd pieces along the walls. Some are very corroded with
rust while other s look as though they were made recently. On some can be seen
the British crown emblem and the old broad arrow indicating the origin as
Woolwich Arsenal Ordnance works. These cannon were made in the reign of George
3rd, about 1790 and used in the Napoleon ic wars. Later, they were acquired by
the Turks and it must be noted that it was the custom in the l9th century to
mount old iron cannon by the doors of public buildings or at the portals of some
rich man's mansion.
There was once a secret tunnel
from the Roccas bastion, i.e. the bastion to the west of the Kyrenia gate, and
it led to the Greek quarter near Ledra Palace. During heavy rains in 1965 it
collapsed and was finally sealed off by UNFlCYP.
From a distance, the Kyrenia gate
looks quite small in comparison with the huge Venetian ramparts, nevertheless it
forms a good compact study for a colour slide or for the artist to paint. It
looks grand in the evening sunshine, the yellow brown stone walls, the
background canopy of trees and the Kyrenia mountains beyond. It brings back
memories to the writer of the walls of Peking which one can follow for IS miles
with sixteen enormous gateways; the Marco Polo gateway is about twenty times the
size of the Kyrenia gate. So, having "done" Kyrenia gate, get on the
bus for Peking!
W., The Antiquities of Turkish Nicosia, Rustem