Friday’s Fact About: Cyprus Castles

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Taken from: mycyprusinsider.com

Stepping Back in Time: Discovering the Magic of Cyprus Castles

Standing proud in true majestic glory in key spots around the island, Cyprus is home to some fabulous castles. But many of us make little effort to actually visit them and step inside to see what secrets they have to tell. In true My Cyprus Insider fashion, we felt it was high time to give you a glimpse into their history, hoping to inspire you to head out on a wonderful journey of discovery!

 

1. Kolossi Castle, Limassol district

What makes it special? A former Crusader stronghold on the outskirts of Kolossi village that really carries you away into days gone by, it held strategic importance during the Middle Ages, while it was also home to facilities for the production of sugar from local sugarcane. This striking castle is also a real site to see; standing proud in the middle of a rural landscape and presenting a fine example of military architecture.

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When was it built? It is thought that the original castle was built by Frankish military in the 13th century. The present castle was built in 1454 by the Hospitallers under the Commander of Kolossi, Louis de Magnac. Have a good look around the place and you’ll see that his arms have been carved into the castle walls.

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Did you know that? The Kolossi headquarters ‘Grande Commanderie’ gave its name to Commandaria, the renowned sweet Cyprus wine. The castle is also mentioned in many novels by British, Cypriot and Spanish writers including La Milicia de Dios by the Spanish writer Eduardo García-Ontiveros Cerdeño, Race of Scorpions: The House of NIccolo by Dorothy Dunnett, In Search of Sixpence by Michael Paraskos and Lionheart by Stewart Binns.

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Where is it? Kolossi Village, 14 km west of Limassol. Tel: (+357) 25-934907

 

2. Limassol Medieval Castle

What makes it special? It brings history to life bang in the middle of a very modern and thriving city! Said to have been erected on the spot where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191, crowning her Queen of England, it’s not the most beautiful of all Cyprus castles, but there’s plenty to take in as the grounds today house the Cyprus Medieval Museum with exhibits which reflect the historical evolution of modern Cyprus, from its economic, social and cultural development, to the many customs and traditions of the island from the 3rd to the 18th century AD.

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When was it built? The current castle is a structure rebuilt under Turkish rule in the 19th century. It’s what happened before this that’s particularly interesting however, as it actually stands on the site of an older castle (built by Guy de Lusignan). The oldest report on the existence of the Limassol Castle dates back to 1228 when Frederick the Second of Germany and his supporters imprisoned hostages seized by Ibeline, the king regent of Cyprus.
Further archaeological investigation has revealed that this castle was built over an even older Early Christian Basilica (4-7th century AD) while other finds point towards the existence of an important church, possibly the city’s first cathedral.

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Did you know that? The British used the castle as headquarters and a prison until 1940.

Where is it? Near the Old Limassol Port. Tel: (+357) 25-305419

 

3. Paphos Castle

What makes it special? A must-see site located on the picturesque Paphos harbour, it was originally built as a fort to protect the area. One of the most distinctive landmarks in a town that’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors from near and far flock to catch a glimpse of its beauty, while it also hosts the annual Pafos Aphrodite Festival.

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When was it built? Originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour, it was then rebuilt by the Lusignans in the 13th century, dismantled by the Venetians in 1570 during the Ottoman invasion, and then rebuilt by the Ottomans after they captured the island in the 16th century.

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Did you know? Just a stone’s throw from the Paphos Castle, stand the ruins of a second fort of Saranta Kolones. And what many are not aware of is that, over the years, the Paphos Castle has not only served as a fortress, but also a prison, and even a salt warehouse during British rule.

Where is it? Paphos Harbour. Tel: (+357) 26-306217

 


4. Larnaca Medieval Castle

What makes it special? A real Larnaca landmark, the castle (often referred to as the Larnaca Fort) stands proud at the south end of the Finikoudes Strip and at the start of the Piale Pasha. Now housing the District Medieval Museum which is well worth a visit, you’ll come across all sorts of paintings, pottery, and utensils from days gone by, while the courtyard is sometimes used for cultural events with an open air theatre.

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When was it built? What’s really interesting is that some sources indicate that the fort was founded during the Byzantine era as the first fortification of the island. But many sources site that it was built between the years of 1382-1398 during the reign of King James I, as the need for a bigger castle to protect the town arose (having become one of the main ports of Cyprus after the capture of Famagusta).
Sources then indicate that it was abandoned and re-built by the Turks in 1625 AD. More recently, it is known that the English used the fort as a place for the execution of convicts and as a prison, up until 1948. In its present state of conservation, the castle consists of a complex of buildings which each date back to different chronological periods.

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Did you know? A number of cannons dating back to the medieval period are perfectly preserved on the castle grounds.

Where is it? Athenon St, end of the Finikoudes seafront promenade.Tel: (+357) 24-304576

 

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