Stone-Made Walls, Heroic Battles, Fascinating Legends!
Travel back in time to historical battles! What could possibly be more exciting? Cyprus – a land desired by conquerors over centuries due to its strategic geographical position. Castles were a MUST for the island’s defence during the Middle Ages and in this article we’ll take you through a historical journey of the Medieval Castles of Cyprus!
Let’s begin with Kolossi Castle. Located 11 kilometres west of Limassol, in the village of Kolossi, this impressive, square castle was one of the most strategically important forts of the Frankish period in Cyprus. Its fascinating history dates back to 1210, when the original castle was first built after the land of Kolossi was given to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers), by the Lusignan King Hugh I. A silent witness of the rivals between the Knights factions during the Crusades, Kolossi Castle came into possession of the Knights Templars in 1306 until their abolition in 1313, returning to the hands of Knights Hospitallers. Sadly, the original castle was destroyed during the 16th century, with a new castle built on its ruins by the Great Commander Louis de Magnac. On the east side of the castle, explore the remains of a stone-made sugar factory and let your imagination explore the sugarcanes cultivated in large plantations in the region. While admiring the castle’s historic walls, notice Magnac’s coat of arms, with the emblems of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Armenia on the eastern wall, marking the Great Commander’s presence on the island. And what would a medieval castle be without its battlements, standing still to remind us that this fort was once made to proudly defend its land for many centuries to come!
Adventure doesn’t end in Limassol. Next stop - Pafos Castle. Proudly standing on an ancient mole in the western side of Pafos port, this fort reflects the troubled history of the island, conquered by numerous rulers over the centuries. The history of Pafos Castle began during the 13th century, when the Frankish rulers of Cyprus decided to build the castle at the port and a circular tower on its west side, interconnected via a curtain wall. Pafos castle was built to replace the Byzantine fort of “Saranta Kolones” which was destroyed by a strong earthquake. Unfortunately, a second earthquake destroyed one of the two towers at the end of the 15th century, and a century later, the Venetian conquerors decided to dismantle the remaining of the two towers with the use of explosives, so that it wouldn’t be used by the Ottomans, who were the next conquerors of the island. The Ottoman rulers restored and strengthened what remained of the fort’s western Frankish tower and its Venetian additions, leaving us with an impressive monument to admire for many centuries to come!
Pafos castle was not only used as a fortress. Who would have guessed that this imposing building was once used as a warehouse for salt during the British occupation? Or as a prison during the Ottoman period, guarding the long-term convicts in its underground cells?!
Let these stone-made walls whisper stories of Cyprus; its historic land, heroic battles, determined conquerors, and fascinating legends!