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:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.