The oldest record of the Limassol Castle dates back to 1228 when Fredrik II of Germany and his supporters sent to prison the hostages seized by Ibeline, the king regent of Cyprus. This Castle was likely to be an ancient Byzantine Castle or the one that took its place over the early Frankish period. According to Stephen Lusignan, Guy de Lusignan had the original Castle built in 1193. This original fort, if it really existed, has not yet been localized by the archaeologists. It is more likely to have been given up to the knights for administration purposes on behalf of the crown in 1308. A marble podium of a small basilica dating back to the Early Christian times and the floor of a Middle Byzantine monument (10th – 11th century) has survived. The eastern side of an arched basement composed of three parts has a big apse on the floor with an approximately 12-metre diameter which could be considered part of the first Latin cathedral of the town.
In 1373 the Genoeses burned the town after having conquered the castle. At this attack serious damage must have been caused to the monument. According to the visitors the town had almost no inhabitants at the late 14th century. A small recovery was observed over the latest decade and the early 15th century at the Latin Bishop’s See of Limassol which apparently used a rebuilt old Middle Byzantine Temple, Zik-Zak street behind the today’s Kepir Mosque, while at the same time the Castle was being repaired. It is often featured that it was a place of resistance against the Genoeses in 1402 and 1408. In 1413 the resistance against the attacks of the Mamluks, who were eventually not able to conquer it, was a fact indeed. Serious damage caused then and maybe a little later, owing to the earthquakes, which were not dealt with efficiently, made it easy to be conquered in 1425 by the Egyptians during their second raid conducted on the town.
According to some information a stronger earthquake affected seriously the monument. When in 1518 Saige visited the town, the Castle was still maintained in a strong position. The most probable is what happened in the case of the Zik-Zak street temple during this period; repairs to a great extent and reconstruction works took place. The gothic arcs that can be observed in the ground western hall. Also some openings with arch hewed doorframes are likely to be seen at the sidewalks of the first floor and above the today’s entrance.
In 1538 the Turks landed at Limassol and conquered the Castle. Bragadino, the Venetian Governor of Cyprus decided to have the Castle demolished in order to prevent any further use of it or its being conquered by the Turks to be used as a fort. Boustronios blamed the Governor for this act of his, stating that the expenses for the demolition of the castle went beyond the costs for having it repaired. The demolition works took place through several phases and their completion was achieved owing to the earthquakes occurred in 1567-1568.
Following the complete conquest of the island (1576) by the Ottomans, the ruins of the old castle or parts of it were incorporated into the new fort built by the Ottomans in 1590. A 2-metre thick wall and the specially tailored ground floor cells used as a prison until 1950, have been two particularly important features of it.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.