The Round Tower, Kyrenia
By Margaret Sheard
I have visited the Round Tower on a number of occasions as has my partner, Chris, and we had occasion to visit again together recently following an exciting discovery. I had previously been researching information about Newman’s Farm which many years ago was located at the present day site of the Chinese House Restaurant in Karaoğlanoğlu. The Round Tower keeps a Servicemen’s Register and a Visitors Book and by chance someone mentioned that there was a note in the Visitors Book by a relative of the owners of Newman’s Farm so Chris and I sought out the book and found the note and I have now made contact with the grand-daughter of the original owner of the farm which will give me the opportunity of writing a further article with a lot more information and also correcting some of the incorrect detail I had been given previously. So after almost giving up hope of getting more information about my project of Newman’s Farm, I found an amazing lead to continue with it at the Round Tower.
The Round Tower was built in the Lusignan period around 1300AD, the inside of the tower used Roman stones taken from the ruined Roman town close to the present day Post Office, and it joined other towers with a curtain wall which enclosed the town of Kyrenia. Gradually the walls collapsed and by 1600AD it was safe to build houses outside of the town walls. The Round Tower then stood derelict for several hundred years and eventually became a roofless shell. When looking at the walls now you can still see some of the “dressing” marks X and / used by the Roman masons all those centuries ago and these can be seen on the video with this article.
In 1987, Ian Smith of Ian Smith Estate Agency applied to the Ministry of Antiquities for permission to restore the Round Tower, which was successful, and a fibreglass dome was installed, natural flagstones laid for the floor and in 1988 the building was opened as an art gallery.
Today the building is an Aladdin’s Cave of all types of crafts, paintings, books, furniture, carpets and souvenir gifts for the tourist trade. With the items which are displayed on the wooden gallery, which was installed at the time of the restoration, there is so much to browse around and maybe find a little cultural treasure to purchase.
Linda Smith has been running the Round Tower since its restoration and has a passion for the culture and history of the island so it is thanks to Linda and her husband for giving us this wonderful piece of heritage.
When you enter the Round Tower it is like stepping back in time, there is a very special atmosphere as your eyes take in the round walls and the glass dome at the top and realise that this building has been standing for over 700 years and has even withstood earthquakes during that time, although some (repaired) damage can be seen.
Heritage is so important and there are many buildings in North Cyprus that have been lovingly restored but also a great number which are slowly disintegrating, so we must be thankful to people like Ian and Linda Smith who cherish the heritage of the island and have given us such a wonderful place to visit right on our doorstep.