“ The oldest report on the existence of the Castle of Limassol dates back to 1228 when Frederick the Second 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. „
The current Limassol Castle was structurally rebuilt by the Turks in the 19th Century. I visited the Castle in May 2009. Limassol, in case you've never heard of it, is in southern Cyprus and is the second largest city of the island.
HOW OLD IS IT?
The original castle was apparently built around the 13th century and it is said that Richard I the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre here and crowned her Queen of England in 1191 after refusing to marriage his childhood betrothed supposedly as she was seduced by his own father. Why do I mention this particular marriage took place at Limassol Castle? Maybe you can check out the address of the Castle at the end of my review to see if you can guess how important this marriage was considered...
The Cyprus Medieval Museum is housed inside Limassol Castle and has been since 1987. Visitors to the castle are not permitted to take photos anywhere inside the castle although we took a few at the entrance and around the grounds prior to entering and on leaving. They are quite clear about this rule when you make payment to enter which was 3 Euros 40 cents when I visited. I thought it was a very reasonable entry price until we left the castle an hour or later when I realised they would hardly be able to get away with charging more than that amount. I have to admit that I was expecting something on a much grander scale when I turned up, having visited castles in the UK which always seemed so much larger and take hours to explore properly. Still the entry price wasn't something I begrudged; it's just that it wasn't as great a bargain I thought it was before I went in.
It was interesting to note as we walked around the castle that modifications had been made by the different rulers of Cyprus including the Venetians, Turkish and British. These were all detailed within the Castle although I'd add that some of it was somewhat vague concerning actual dates whereas some of the dates were quite specific.
I don't feel it's necessary to include too much more about the specifics of what is housed inside the Castle or about its history but if you'd really like more detail to help you decide if you think it's worth a visit or you just enjoy reading about historical places please see http://www.limassolmunicipal.com.cy/castle/eng/index.html and click the links on the left of the screen to read about "The Castle of Limassol" or "The Cyprus Medieval Musuem" - when in the Museum section you can choose from links to:
* Cyprus in early Christian times
* Cyprus in the middle Byzantine period
* Middle age Franksih period Venetian period
* Ottoman period
The exhibits within the various rooms inside the Castle/Museum include:
* Suits of armour
* Bronze pots
* Sacred tools
* Decorative ornaments
To be perfectly honest, many of the display items housed in the museum were just not interesting enough to me personally to hold my attention for more than a few seconds but I will admit that in some of the rooms I felt very in awe of the gravestones and it was highly atmospheric. For example, I stood as if glued to the spot in one room for a good ten minutes, reluctant to leave although there was nothing housed there aside from a gravestone. It's difficult to explain the eerie feeling I had when visiting some of the rooms, I can't put my finger on it but they just made me feel very emotional and captivated.
I wouldn't say Limassol Castle was in any way a disappointment but it was rather strange to visit a castle and be in and out of there within an hour or so having seen every possible part of it and taking my time to do so. One thing I thought was amusing during my visit was that having been told we can't take photos, (for whatever reason, I felt that was fair enough) it was rather odd seeing cables everywhere with plug sockets - this looked quite out of place in this place so full of atmosphere of a long gone era. It almost spoilt the effect, so to speak, of soaking up the history of a place and reading on the walls in the various rooms and corridors details of what you saw before you.
There is no disabled access with the castle so this should be noted prior to visiting. Some of the stairways within the castle are quite steep and I was somewhat nervous climbing down a set of stairs which had no handrails on either side. For this reason I would advise caution if taking children to see this attraction.
As an aside I thought I'd mention that, although the weather outside was extremely warm, inside the castle it was a very comfortable temperature. I saw no signs of air conditioning but whatever they have in place to keep it temperature controlled seems to work perfectly.
Outside the castle we had a look around within the grounds, again these were not very big but amongst other things contained a reconstruction of an olive press from the Byzantine period.
WOULD I VISIT AGAIN?
If I happen to be in Limassol again and in the Castle area I might feel the urge to pop into the Castle to soak up some atmosphere. The real attraction for me that day was the beautiful seafront area within 10 minute walk from the Castle which I would happily visit again. I wouldn't say it's worth a trip to the area just to see the Castle but to wander around the quaint shops nearby selling souvenir items and the seafront; it's a good day trip if you have run out of other attractions to see in Cyprus.
Considering the price we paid it was worth the visit. I'd say 75% of the items on display were not of appeal to me personally but that's probably just me lacking in cultural appreciation! The 25% that I did enjoy seeing made it more than worthwhile for me, so I'm happy to give Limassol Castle a decent 4 out of 5 stars.
WHERE IS IT?
Limassol Castle is situated at Richard and Berengaria Street, Limassol, Cyprus. It is very easy to reach the castle as most bus routes which run from one end of Limassol to the other will pass through the area and of course, all taxi drivers will know how to take you there.
p.s. did you note the name of the street where the castle is situated?
The oldest report on the existence of the Castle of Limassol dates back to 1228 when Frederick the Second 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.