Buffavento Castle is one of the three castles – watchtowers that stand on Pentadaktylos, the Kyrenia mountain range. It is situated on the second highest hill on the northern side of the mountain range of Pentadaktylos in an inaccessible area that dominates almost all of the island except the southwestern areas. It is strategically placed in between the other two castles of Pentadaktylos.
It was built in the late 11th or early 12th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, even though its name first appeared in 1191 when it was taken by Richard the Lionheart during his campaign against the Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus. The name “Buffavento” (= buffeted by the wind) was given by the Franks in memory of the homonymous castle in France. The castle was also called “Lion’s Castle” and “Queen’s Castle”. These names were attributed by the legends regarding the Queen (“Rigena”). A particular legend about the Buffavento Castle claims that this is where Rigena’s 101st room is - a secret room where she hid her treasures and has not been found yet. The room is believed to appear just for a few hours every New Year’s Day or the night of Resurrection.
The inaccessible location and the rocky terrain of the region made Buffavento an impregnable fortress that played a leading role during the Byzantine Empire and later during the Frankish Rule. This is because it was used as a lookout for approaching ships that might have brought danger to the island. With smoke signals they sent instant messages to other areas. The castle was strengthened and expanded during the Frankish rule where at times it was used as a fortress, as a signal station and even as a prison. Buffavento, like the other two castles, was destroyed by the Venetians who deemed the fortifications redundant in the early 16th century. During the Ottoman invasion in 1570, the residents who were unable to fight found refuge in this castle.
Buffavento was constructed based on how the natural ground was and is consisted of three wards. The lower ward comprises a big cistern and a large hall that probably served as a stable. On the following ward are the entrance gate that was inside a two-storey tower, several chambers of the Lusignan era, small arched spaces that probably served as arsenals and a ruined two-storey Byzantine building. The upper ward consists of three building blocks. The first one is in the middle and has a ruined rectangular building from the Lusignan era, which is probably the remains of a church. At the west there are four chambers dating to the Byzantine period. In the largest chamber, there are two cisterns for water storage. The northern wall of these rooms extends towards the west and includes a platform, probably where the signals were shot. On the eastern side are the remains of two chambers of the Byzantine era.
The view from Buffavento is breath-taking. From there you can enjoy the views over the northern beaches of Cyprus as the visibility extends to Karpasia, Kyrenia and over the Mesaoria plain. Legend has it that the spectacular beauty of Buffavento, and of the other two castles, the St Hilarion and Kantara Castle, has inspired Walter Disney to design the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Whether the rumour is true or not, no one can question the impressive beauty of these castles, which like vigilant guards await their liberation from the Turkish occupation.