Castles in Cyprus

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From the incredible Paphos Castle and the eye-opening Castle of Forty Columns to the astonishing Kolossi Fortress, the ancient and medieval castles of Cyprus are absolutely mind-blowing places to discover. While first-time visitors may just want to hit the highlights, for those who wish to delve deeper into Cypriot castles other unique sites to explore shouldn't be missed, such as such as Kyrenia Castle, Akaki Castle and Gastria Castle. To begin your journey exploring the fortifications of Cyprus you can view our editor’s selection of top picks below as well as checking out a host of other locations which you definitely won’t want to miss.

What are the best Castles in Cyprus?

1. Paphos Castle

Paphos Castle was originally a Frankish fortification constructed in the mid-thirteenth century. At this time, the island needed a new form of defence, its previous fortification - Saranda Kolones – having been devastated by an earthquake. The remains of Saranda Kolones can be seen in nearby Nea Paphos. However, the Paphos Castle which can be seen today actually dates back to the sixteenth century. Having been captured and altered by the Genoese in the fourteenth century, it later came under the control of the Venetians. Yet, not wanting it to fall into enemy hands, the Venetians actually destroyed Paphos Castle in anticipation of the invasion of the Ottomans, which occurred in 1570. The Ottomans rebuilt Paphos Castle and this is the site which can be seen at Paphos Harbour today. Visitors can see the dungeons used by the Ottomans during their occupation of the area, the battlements of Paphos Castle, the place where Ottoman soldiers lived and what was once a mosque. When the British took over Paphos Castle in 1878, they used it as a storage facility for salt until 1935, when it became a national monument.

2. Castle of Forty Columns - Nea Pafos

Nea Pafos is an archaeological site near Paphos Harbour in Cyprus housing the remains of what was once the capital of the island. Founded in the fourth century BC by Nikokles, the last king of nearby Palaipafos, Nea Pafos then went from strength to strength, particularly under the Ptolemaic kingdom from the third century BC. One of the main remnants of the earliest stages of Nea Paphos – albeit with changes made to it over the centuries - is its ancient theatre, probably built around the time that the city was founded. This was in use until the fifth century AD. Also of interest is the Castle of Forty Columns, a Byzantine fortification known locally as “Saranda Kolones”. Constructed in the seventh century AD, this castle is known – and named after - the many granite columns which still remain there today.

3. Kolossi Castle

Kolossi Castle was originally a thirteenth century Frankish fortification near Limassol in Cyprus. Constructed by the Knights Hospitallers in 1210, Kolossi Castle almost exclusively remained in their possession until it was destroyed by Mameluke raids in 1525/6. The only interruption occurred between 1306 and 1313, when it was taken over by the Knights Templar. The current Kolossi Castle was built in 1454 under the orders of Louis de Magnac. His coat of arms can be seen on the wall of the structure.

4. Kyrenia Castle

Kyrenia Castle, at the east end of the old harbour in Kyrenia, is a 16th-century castle built by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification. Within its walls lies a twelfth-century chapel showing reused late Roman capitals, and the Shipwreck Museum.

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5. Akaki Castle

Akaki Castle, also known as the Tower of the Franks is a castle in Cyprus. It served as a retreat for the kings of Cyprus.

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6. Othello Castle

Othello Castle, also known as Othello's Tower, is a castle in Famagusta, Cyprus. It was built by the Lusignans in the 14th century, and was later modified by the Venetians. The castle was named after a Venetian governor in 1506. Shakespeare's play Othello which is believed to be written in 1603 might have taken its name from this castle.

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7. Gastria Castle

Gastria Castle is a ruined castle in Northern Cyprus. It is first mentioned in 1210 as a Knights Templar fortress. It was dismantled in 1279 by Hugh III of Cyprus. It passed into the possession of the Knights Hospitaller in 1308, falling into obscurity afterwards.

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8. Sigouri Castle

Sigouri Castle was a medieval castle in Cyprus of which there are no remains. Its location facilitated as a stopover for troops from Nicosia, the medieval capital, on their way to the coastal harbours of either Famagusta or Aliki. Since Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, its geographical location lies within territory administered by the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, which is currently an unrecognised state. The castle was built in 1391 as a frontier fortress, after the Genoese conquest of Famagusta. It fell into disuse after the Venetian take over of the island.

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9. Kantara Castle

Kantara Castle is a castle in north Cyprus. The exact date of its construction remains unknown, the most plausible theory being the Byzantine period. It combines Byzantine and Frankish architectural elements, became derelict in 1525 and was dismantled in 1560. It gave its name to the nearby Kantara monastery.

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10. Buffavento Castle

Buffavento Castle is a castle in Northern Cyprus. The exact date of its construction remains unknown, the most plausible theory being the Byzantine period. It combines Byzantine and Frankish architectural elements. It fell into disuse in the 14th century.

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Full list of Castles in Cyprus

It’s obviously tempting to focus solely on the top ten Castles in Cyprus. But we suggest not rushing straight to the ‘big’ sites like Paphos Castle or the Castle of Forty Columns in Nea Pafos and instead experiencing the charms of the lesser-known locations such as the Kyrenia Gate. These lesser-known Cypriot Castles can in fact be the most intriguing to discover and contain a number of secret gems for your bucket list.

Famagusta Gate

The Famagusta Gate is a gate in the Nicosia walls, Cyprus. It is the chief gate of the city. This construction, in the Venetian style has been copied from the famous Lazaretto Gate of Candia designed by Michael Sammicheli at the beginning of the 16th century, and consists of a vaulted passage through the earthwork rampart of the city with a carefully executed spherical dome, eleven metres in diameter, in its centre.

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Kyrenia Gate

The Kyrenia Gate is a gate in the Nicosia walls, in North Nicosia, Northern Cyprus. The gate was built in 1567 by Venetians, as a part of the new city walls. It was restored by the Ottomans in 1821, and a lookout was added to the gate for a probable Greek revolt. Now, the gate is used as a tourism information office by the Nicosia Turkish Municipality.

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Saint Hilarion Castle

The Saint Hilarion Castle lies on the Kyrenia mountain range, in Cyprus. This location provided the castle with command of the pass road from Kyrenia to Nicosia. It is the best preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the others being Kantara and Buffavento.

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Our database of Castles in Cyprus is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Cypriot Castles, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.