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The topmost tower of the spectacular castle of St. Hilarion, Northern Cyprus, known as Prince John's Tower, 732 m. above the sea. The walls and towers appear to sprout off the rocks almost at random, giving the castle a fairy tale look. Indeed it is said to have inspired Walt Disney to use it as a design for the castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Saint Hilarion was originally a monastery, named after a monk who allegedly chose the site for his hermitage, with a monastery and a church built there in the 10th century. Starting in the 11th century, the Byzantines began fortification. Saint Hilarion formed the defense of the island with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara against Arab pirates raiding the coast. Some sections were further upgraded under the Lusignans, who may have used it as a summer residence. During the rule of the Lusignans, the castle was the focus of a four-year struggle between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Regent John d' Ibelin for control of Cyprus.

The Prince John tower sits on a cliff high above the lower castle. It has a grisly tale to tell. The misguided Prince Regent, John of Antioch, mislead by his hostile sister-in-law into believing his bodyguard of Bulgarian mercenaries were treasonous, had them thrown one at a time from this tower. Without their protection, John, who had been implicated in the murder of Eleanor's husband, was defenceless. He was lured to supper with Eleanor in Nicosia where he was, in turn, promptly dispatched.

This photograph was made from the steps on the northern flank of the mountain ascending to the Upper Castle, where the Royal Apartments and the Tower are. The Lusignan Royal Family must have been pretty fit to do this journey every day!

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Additional Photos by Will Perrett (willperrett) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1065 W: 304 N: 2979] (13679)
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