Kolossi Castle – the Knights’ fortress and its unique course in time.
The castle of Kolossi is a medieval fortress on the south-west coast of Cyprus, a few kilometres west of the city of Limassol. It is situated in the heart of a rich and fertile valley at the mouth of Kouris River. The castle held great strategic importance protecting the area of Kolossi which contained large plantations of sugarcane, olive tree, cereal, carob tree as well as vineyards. This is the reason of the several conflicts that occurred between the noble Franks during their rule in Cyprus.
Built originally by the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1210, Kolossi Castle served as the seat of the supreme military commandment of the island. The area’s name, Kolossi, most likely comes from the feudal lord of the area, Gerunus de Colos. In 1306, the castle briefly came into the possession of the Knights Templars who supported Amalrique of Tyre, the usurper of the throne. After the abolition of the Knights Templars in 1313, the castle of Kolossi returned to the possession of the Knights of St John but was destroyed during the raids of the Egyptian Mameluke tribes in 1426. Over the castle’s remains, the commander Louis de Magnac from the Knights of St John built the existing castle. The coat of arms that can be seen together with the emblems of the Kingdom of Cyprus on the external east side of the castle shows that all the fortifications belonged to the King of Cyprus and no one else had the right to own these towers.
The Kolossi Medieval Castle is one of the most important existing works of fortification that survive today in Cyprus as it was often reported by the travellers in the Middle Ages. It is an impressive square building comprised of three floors, with walls as thick as 1.5 metres and a height of 21 metres. The basement is divided into three parts that might have been served as storage spaces. Central to the east wing, there is a stone-built stairway that leads to the second level which was possibly a kitchen. The third level was divided into two large rooms that were the “houses” of the Commanders.
To the south of the castle there is a courtyard surrounded by walls and ruins of an auxiliary building that probably served as a stable or storage room. On the northwest corner of the building there was an entrance protected by a circular tower. To the east of the castle are the remains of a factory that used to produce sugar from the local sugarcanes. The factory was a long, narrow, stone-made, arch-covered hall. The facilities, which date back to the 14th century, consisted of three main areas and other auxiliary areas. An inscription found on the external south side reveals that the building was repaired in 1591, when Pasha Murat was the governor of Cyprus. To the north of the hall lie the ruins of a water mill and a water tower.
Moreover, the famous sweet Cypriot wine Commandaria was highly produced and exported in the area, the “Vin de Commanderie”. Commandaria is one of the oldest named wines in the world that kept the same name for more than eight centuries. The surrounding land was and still is the only area that the Commandaria grapes from which the rare wine is produced are cultivated. No other place in Cyprus can produce wine that is as sweet as commandaria.
The castle is open daily between 8:15-19:45 from 16/4-15/9, and from 16/9-15/4 between 8:15-17:15.