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:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.