From the incredible Paphos Castle and the eye-opening Castle of Forty Columns to the astonishing Kolossi Fortress, the ancient and medieval castles of Cyprus are absolutely mind-blowing places to discover. While first-time visitors may just want to hit the highlights, for those who wish to delve deeper into Cypriot castles other unique sites to explore shouldn’t be missed, such as such as Kyrenia Castle, Akaki Castle and Gastria Castle. To begin your journey exploring the fortifications of Cyprus you can view our editor’s selection of top picks below as well as checking out a host of other locations which you definitely won’t want to miss.
What are the best Castles in Cyprus?
Paphos Castle was originally a Frankish fortification constructed in the mid-thirteenth century. At this time, the island needed a new form of defence, its previous fortification – Saranda Kolones – having been devastated by an earthquake. The remains of Saranda Kolones can be seen in nearby Nea Paphos. However, the Paphos Castle which can be seen today actually dates back to the sixteenth century. Having been captured and altered by the Genoese in the fourteenth century, it later came under the control of the Venetians. Yet, not wanting it to fall into enemy hands, the Venetians actually destroyed Paphos Castle in anticipation of the invasion of the Ottomans, which occurred in 1570. The Ottomans rebuilt Paphos Castle and this is the site which can be seen at Paphos Harbour today. Visitors can see the dungeons used by the Ottomans during their occupation of the area, the battlements of Paphos Castle, the place where Ottoman soldiers lived and what was once a mosque. When the British took over Paphos Castle in 1878, they used it as a storage facility for salt until 1935, when it became a national monument.
Nea Pafos is an archaeological site near Paphos Harbour in Cyprus housing the remains of what was once the capital of the island. Founded in the fourth century BC by Nikokles, the last king of nearby Palaipafos, Nea Pafos then went from strength to strength, particularly under the Ptolemaic kingdom from the third century BC. One of the main remnants of the earliest stages of Nea Paphos – albeit with changes made to it over the centuries – is its ancient theatre, probably built around the time that the city was founded. This was in use until the fifth century AD. Also of interest is the Castle of Forty Columns, a Byzantine fortification known locally as “Saranda Kolones”. Constructed in the seventh century AD, this castle is known – and named after – the many granite columns which still remain there today.
Kolossi Castle was originally a thirteenth century Frankish fortification near Limassol in Cyprus. Constructed by the Knights Hospitallers in 1210, Kolossi Castle almost exclusively remained in their possession until it was destroyed by Mameluke raids in 1525/6. The only interruption occurred between 1306 and 1313, when it was taken over by the Knights Templar. The current Kolossi Castle was built in 1454 under the orders of Louis de Magnac. His coat of arms can be seen on the wall of the structure.