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The beautiful, treacherous kingdom of Cyprus

a photo journey through the heart of medieval Cyprus

To follow up on my History Hunter’s Report about Queen Charlotta of Cyprus and celebrate my forthcoming novel, The Queen’s Scribe (available for pre-order here), I’ve put together a special collection of images that capture the key locations in the book. I have not yet been to Cyprus myself, and discovering these gorgeous photos made me more determined than ever to get there one day. Without further ado, please enjoy!

Estelle de Montavon, the heroine of The Queen’s Scribe, arrives in Cyprus by way of Famagusta Harbor. At that time (1457), the city of Famagusta was controlled by Genoa. Before the Genoese seized power there, Famagusta had been the center of the Cypriot kingdom’s diplomatic, religious, and administrative activities. This splendid Gothic cathedral of St. Nicholas was the site of many ceremonial events. Today, Famagusta is under Turkish control and the cathedral has been turned into a mosque.

When Estelle arrives in the capital city of Nicosia and takes up residence in the royal palace, she is overwhelmed by the opulence on display, as well as the treachery within the court. She’s thrilled to escape the palace walls for an outing to Nicosia’s famed marketplace, where she sees beautiful silks, handmade metal bird sculptures, and other artisan goods. Below is a remnant of the Venetian Gate, an entrance in the medieval walls leading to the inner city.

Estelle’s Venetian chaperone, Signora Rosso, lives in the Italian Quarter of Nicosia, and the photo below depicts a neighborhood tucked inside the oldest part of the city. One of these doors may have a dolphin-shaped door knocker, just as Signora Rosso’s does.

Queen Charlotta’s power-hungry half brother, Jacco, is used to getting his way. Their father, King Jean, gifted Jacco the archbishop’s palace and the revenues from the Latin (Catholic) churches in Cyprus when the boy was thirteen. While writing The Queen’s Scribe, I wished I had an image of Jacco’s residence to study. I was thrilled today to find one (below). The archbishop’s palace in Nicosia is beautifully preserved.

One of Estelle’s pivotal experiences in Cyprus is at St. Hilarion Castle, a sprawling medieval structure in the mountains, overlooking the sea. In one scene, Estelle and Queen Charlotta watch Kyrenia Fortress from the windows of the castle, and those windows still stand today.

St. Hilarion is in a sad state of disrepair, but a few sections of this formerly magnificent castle remain. I found a wonderful image of a doorway leading from the castle to the rocky outcroppings beyond:

Estelle takes a risky journey in The Queen’s Scribe to the magnificent Gothic abbey of Bellapais (below). The abbey was once a celebrated destination for Christian pilgrims (Cyprus was a famed stopover point on the journey to Jerusalem), but it fell into disrepair in the late medieval period.

When civil war is imminent and Queen Charlotta’s court retreats to Kyrenia Fortress (pictured above in the background to this post’s title), Estelle hates being shut inside the austere, defensive walls. At night, she hears the moans of prisoners floating up from the dungeons, and she falls asleep to the sound of water gurgling in sea caves. Kyrenia Fortress starts out as a refuge, but when Jacco’s cannons begin to pummel the walls, Estelle wonders if it’s actually become a trap. Soon, she can think of nothing but escape. Will she find a way out before it’s too late?

Thank you for joining me on this photo journey through the medieval Cypriot world of The Queen’s ScribeThe book launches April 25, 2023.


  1. Petra says:

    wow, beautiful pictures enhancing the story! thank you for sharing, Amy!

    1. Amy Maroney says:

      My pleasure, Petra! Glad you enjoyed the blog post!

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