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.

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Kamil Kenan, Larnaca, Cyprus
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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Cyprus

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