The rich history of Cyprus is certainly fascinating, and luckily, many historic structures are still preserved to this day for visitors to explore. During the time of the Roman Empire, many structures were built to protect the island from invasion. Thankfully Cyprus doesn’t have to worry about invaders these days, so instead these magnificent forts and castles have been opened up to tourists to bring history to life. Here are five fabulous castles that you must visit next time you’re exploring Cyprus…
Paphos Medieval Castle
The magnificent Paphos Castle overlooks Paphos harbour. Built as a Byzantine fort, it was rebuilt in the 13th century by the Lusignans, destroyed by the Venetians and built again by the Ottomans. As well as being for protection, the fort has served as a prison and a salt warehouse. From the second floor you can enjoy panoramic ocean views, and look out for opera performances inside the castle, it’s a wonderful setting for such an event and the acoustics are out of this world.
Limassol Castle has an interesting history. It is thought that the original castle was built prior to 1228. A good solid structure that survived through several earthquakes. However, in 1538 it was decided that the castle would be dismantled so the Turkish invaders couldn’t make use of it. Apparently taking the castle apart was a particularly difficult job as it was so well built. This was all in vain though as the Turks quickly built a newer and even sturdier fortress pretty soon afterwards.
Nowadays Limassol Castle is home to the Medieval Museum where you can view a wide range of artefacts including weapons, armour, coins, tombstones and other items from the history of Cyprus.
Larnaca Medieval castle
Built in the 14th century by James I of Cyprus, the castle was massively restructured by the Ottomans in 1625, giving it a distinctive Turkish style. The fort later fell into disrepair and then was used as a prison by the British during their occupation of the island from 1878. Within the walls criminals were kept and executed. These days it has a more peaceful life housing a historical museum. The large castle courtyard also plays host to several music concerts and theatre festivals.
In the south of Cyprus, close to Limassol, you’ll find the 13th century Colossi Castle, built by the king of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan. The castle grounds were filled with sugar cane farms and vineyards and it is believed to be the birthplace of the famous sweet Cypriot wine Commandaria.
The imposing three storey building stands 22 meters high and if you visit the second floor, you’ll discover a chapel here with some well preserved frescoes. Head to the roof and you’ll be treated to some fantastic views of the city from the observation deck.
The capital Nicosia was occupied by Turkey making it the last divided capital in the world. The city was surrounded by 5km of walls with 11 bastions. These bastions have survived to this day, with five being in the Turkish part of the city, 5 in the Greek area and 1 under the control of the United Nations.
A fascinating country just waiting to be explored
When you visit Cyprus for your medical treatment, you really should take some extra time on the island to explore. What better way to recuperate than by taking a step back in time under the glorious sunshine and discovering the history of this fascinating island? Find out more at the Cyprus Health Service Promotion Board.