The harbour must be one of the most picturesque in the Mediterranean. Besides providing a fine setting for a range of eating places alfresco or indoors according to season, it also incorporates a number of curious relics of its ancient harbour within its modern one. The harbour is beautiful at all times of day, but is at its most bewitching at night. Many of the restaurants are open for food all day long.
The graceful horseshoe curve of Girne's harbour is an even more tranquil spot since it was closed to traffic by a barrier at the west end (except for a few hours in the morning to allow deliveries). A fair proportion of the buildings enclosing the harbour are Venetian, tastefully restored to shops and restaurants on their ground levels, with apartments or the owner's accommodation above. The tourist office is itself such a restored house, with a cavernous stone vaulted interior.
Above head height to the right of the Corner Bar as you face it, you can see large stones jutting out with holes in their centres. In the ancient harbour, ropes were threaded through these holes for hauling boats up on to the beach.
Sticking out of the water amongst the moored fishing boats and yachts, stands a semi-collapsed squat stone tower, approached by a crumbling causeway. On top of the tower is a smaller tower the size of a Roman column. This was the old chain tower, from which an iron chain was suspended across the harbour entrance to block hostile shipping. The chain, though huge, was but a tiny version of that used in Istanbul to control shipping in the Bosphorus. In the old wall that rises up behind the Cafe Chimera, careful observation will reveal the outline of a large Gothic archway, now blocked up. Before 1400, when the moat was still full, ships used to be dragged through this archway from the harbour into the castle moat for safety or simply for repair.
Walking towards the middle of the harbour, you come to the entrance of the Folk Museum, set in a typical 18th-century house just next to Set Fish Restaurant and overlooking the harbour to the front. It's reputed to be open weekdays from 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.45 (closed weekends), although on several visits in the 2005 high season we found it to be consistently closed. Entrance is free with a ticket from Girne Castle, otherwise it costs 1.20/0.80 adults/students. The house need only detain you for 15 minutes and is of interest less for its display of domestic equipment and costumes than for the chance to see inside one of the old city's three-storeyed buildings.
Strolling out along the harbour wall affords you the best view back to the castle and the difference in architectural styles is clearly visible. To the left (east) you have a good view for the first time of the taller Crusader tower, which is difficult to see from inside the castle or from the harbour front. Its high squared medieval crenellations and arrow slits were built with quite a different style of warfare in mind – catapults and archery – from the later more advanced tower of the Venetians, round and squat, with no arrow slits but just a solitary gun port at sea level and others on top for the newly invented cannon. From the very end of the harbour wall you can also view the eastern wall of the castle.
Walking away from the horseshoe harbour towards the Dome Hotel, you will notice a solitary granite Roman column beside the children's playground on the seafront promenade. It is something of a mystery, for though there are several Roman stone fragments to be found incorporated into churches or other buildings in Girne, this is the only granite one. There is no indigenous granite in Cyprus, and this is the only piece of granite yet found in the whole region.