Larnaca Castle

Larnaca, Cyprus

Larnaka Castle was originally a small fort built by the Byzantine rule probably in late 12th century. The city gained importance during the medieval ages after the Genovese occupied the main port of the country and the need for a new port town emerged. Soon after Larnaca became one of the main ports of the Kingdom of Cyprus and the need of a castle protecting the city and the harbour emerged. Between the years 1382-1398 the small Byzantine fortification located near the harbour was upgraded to a more substantial castle.

By the 18th century the castle started losing importance and was abandoned. In the first half of the 18th century, famous explorer, Abbot Giovanni Mariti, recorded that the castle was in a semi-ruined state; yet there was still garrison protecting it. The castle was subject to German occupation during World War I. The occupation lasted from 1914-1918 and the castle was used as a German military outpost. At the end of the war the castle was retaken by the British and was converted into a prison where gallows were installed to execute prisoners. The last execution took place in 1948. During the Cypriot civil war the castle was held by Greek Cypriots and was used as a war prison.

In its present state of conservation the castle consists of a complex of buildings constructed during different chronological periods. The two-storey building on the north side was constructed during the Ottoman period, as is indicated by its architectural style and a Turkish inscription above the entrance, whereas the east and south wings belong to earlier phases. The British Administration used the western chamber of the ground floor in the east for the execution of prisoners. The gallows which must had been constructed in the room, were in use until 1948.

Today the Castle houses a small museum consisting of three rooms situated on the upper floor of the main building, directly above the entrance. Antiquities from Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments of Cyprus are exhibited in the western room. Photographs of Byzantine wall paintings dated from 11th-16th centuries A.D. are exhibited in the central room. In the large eastern room representative examples of medieval glazed pottery, metal cooking utensils and guns as well as helmets and swords.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Address

Kamil Kenan, Larnaca, Cyprus
See all sites in Larnaca

Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Cyprus

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of the Savior on Blood

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.

The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.

In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.